John plans solo trek to the South Pole

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A MAN is conquering his depression by planning to trek single-handed to the South Pole.

John Dennis, from Victoria Road, Bishop’s Waltham, is preparing to take on the epic 37-day 730-mile journey across Antarctica to raise awareness for two charities that help people with mental health conditions.

)''John Dennis (39) from Bishop's Waltham, will be trekking the South Pole in December 2014 raising money and awareness for two charities Combat Stress and Young Minds. ''Picture: Sarah Standing (141221-5163) PPP-140424-162106001

)''John Dennis (39) from Bishop's Waltham, will be trekking the South Pole in December 2014 raising money and awareness for two charities Combat Stress and Young Minds. ''Picture: Sarah Standing (141221-5163) PPP-140424-162106001

Inspired by his own experiences of mental heath issues, the 39-year-old hopes to bring in thousands of pounds for Combat Stress, a charity that helps ex-service personnel, and Young Minds, which helps children and young people.

Mr Dennis, a design consultant, said: ‘It’s one of the most extreme things you can do as it’s the harshest, driest continent on Earth.

‘There’s nothing easy about it but good things don’t come to those who just sit in an armchair.’

Mr Dennis, a father-of-two, said he had caught glimpses of what life is like for military personnel after spending time working in Afghanistan.

He also said he felt Young Minds could have helped him when he was younger, as he suffered emotionally when his father committed suicide when he was just 17 years old.

Due to the undiagnosed trauma from his father’s death, Mr Dennis was eventually diagnosed with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder last August.

He had begun to feel unwell in May and said he was ‘dragged to the doctors’ by his worried wife, Heidi.

He said it was a relief to be diagnosed and to be given medication to help him sleep.

Mr Dennis said that while he was in recovery he came upon the idea of the trek, after wanting to do something similar when he was younger.

He said: ‘It was a huge shock for my wife but once she got over the shock, she realised I was serious and now she is all for it. I’m so lucky, she’s been my rock.’

Mr Dennis is currently in training and will be spending time in a specialist unit at the University of Portsmouth to prepare for the cold.

He hopes to set off in November and to be on the ice by December.

The trek should take around 37 days and will be the equivalent of walking 28 back-to-back marathons.

Mr Dennis still needs sponsors. For more information go to expedition-d2e.org