Man seeks companions to tackle charity expedition across frozen lake

A father will battle fierce winds and temperatures as low as minus 20C (minus 4F) on an epic expedition across the deepest lake in the world.

Greg Bower, from Kent, is taking on a challenge few have ever completed in modern times: crossing the frozen Lake Baikal in Siberia.

Over 11 days he and his experienced expedition leader, Mike Laird, will trek 200 miles across the ice and back again – and he is looking for more companions.

Mr Bower is undertaking the extreme endeavour in a bid to raise £50,000 for Ronald McDonald House Charities UK after they provided him and his wife Mel with a place to stay when their daughter Ellie was rushed to hospital soon after birth.

Ellie was born suffering from perinatal asphyxia, a condition in which a baby’s brain does not receive enough oxygen before, during, or after birth, and which can lead to cardiorespiratory or brain damage.

Greg Bower and his family
Greg Bower with his wife Mel and his children Ellie, nine, and Jack, four (Greg Bower/PA)

She was treated in at Brighton’s Royal Sussex County Hospital, where her body was “frozen” – cooled to a very low temperature – in order to give her a chance to fight off the illness.

After her treatment, Ellie had to spend additional time in the baby unit for scans and tests, but happily having met all her developmental milestones she was given the all-clear at the age of two.

At the time in 2012, Mr and Mrs Bower lived in Surrey. Ronald McDonald House Brighton provided a room for them, with Mrs Bower also recovering from lifesaving surgery after giving birth.

Mr Bower said: “As Ellie was frozen after being born, the cold helping to give her body time and space to heal, it seems fitting that I undertake this challenge in one of the coldest places on Earth.

“I wanted to give back to the charity as we were so incredibly grateful for the support we received from Ronald McDonald House Charities UK.

“For me, the bigger the challenge, the more money I hope to raise.”

Mr Bower works as a service delivery manger for digital forensics company Forensic Analytics, and his bosses are meeting all the costs of his trip including specialist training.

Mike Laird
Mike Laird will accompany Greg Bower on his expedition (Greg Bower/PA)

The date for the Russian lake adventure is set for February, and he will be accompanied by Mr Laird, from Edinburgh, who starred in Castaway 2000.

Mr Laird has skied all the way to the North Pole, spent time in the Bering Strait and traversed the entire 400-mile length of Lake Baikal, solo, in 2019.

Mr Bower added: “I would love to achieve my goal alongside 10 others who may be looking to raise money for their own charities of choice, or just simply fancy the challenge.

“I think together we could forge a team spirit that will see us through, and also raise potentially hundreds of thousands of pounds in total for our individual charities.

“Mike is an experienced expedition lead and under his guidance we will be in very safe hands, I would encourage anyone interested in this opportunity of a lifetime to get in touch, we would love to welcome you to the team.”

Mr Bower’s donation page for his challenge, along with details for anyone wanting to join him, can be found here:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/siberian-lake-challenge