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Squaddies prepare for Everest challenge at Leeds Beckett University

A team of British soldiers are being put through their paces by sport scientists at Leeds Beckett University as they prepare to attempt to climb the North Face of Everest.

The north face of Everest

A team of six regular and reserves serving soldiers, along with their team medic, will depart from the UK in April to attempt the feat.

As part of their preparations for the conditions that they will face, they are taking part in a research study led by Leeds Beckett PhD student, Mark Cooke, and supervised by Dr John O'Hara, Reader in Sport and Exercise Physiology, and Visiting Professor Lt. Col. David Woods.

The University experts are putting the team through a pre-acclimation protocol, allowing the expedition team to experience and acclimatise to the physiological challenges of climbing at a high altitude.

The aim of the research is to enhance the likelihood of the team reaching the top of Mount Everest.

"At high altitude, pulmonary diffusion and oxygen transportation are limited, meaning the body is in a state of oxygen deficiency.

"The body tries to compensate for this, and through acclimatisation, this situation can be improved.

"However, at extreme altitudes such as on Mount Everest, the body cannot completely compensate, which makes such a challenge very hard and potentially life threatening.

"Therefore, we hope that this training prior to the expedition will help them acclimatise more effectively whilst on the mountain and enhance their performance.

" In conjunction with outdoor activity specialists Carnegie Great Outdoors, we have a strong history of working with military expeditions in preparing for such challenges and feel strongly that this research will assist them in summiting Mount Everest."

– Dr John O'Hara, Leeds Beckett University

During the training, the Army team are spending prolonged periods of time each day in the University's environmental chamber, which simulates high altitude conditions through the manipulation of the fraction of inspired oxygen at sea level.

The scientists will be testing the team both before and after the training to measure effectiveness of the pre-acclimation protocol, as well as assessing the effectiveness of the training on the expedition.

Reports defence chiefs tried to cover up costs of forces attending funeral of Jimmy Savile

It is reported that the Ministry of Defence tried to cover up how much tax payers' money was used to have members of the armed forces attend the funeral of disgraced TV presenter Jimmy Savile.

Reports defence chiefs tried to cover up costs of forces attending funeral of Jimmy Savile Credit: Press Association

Fifteen troops were sent to attend the funeral in November 2011 at a cost of £1,647.11, but when a Freedom of Information request was submitted to the Ministry of Defence to find out the cost, officials said there was "no information".

An internal investigation revealed that officials had breached the Freedom of Information Act by refusing to disclose the details.

The Royal Marines regularly support high profile public events. On this occasion the criminal activity of Mr Savile, subsequently uncovered as part of Operation Yewtree, was unknown and the Royal Marines acted with the best intentions at the time.

– Ministry of Defence spokesperson


  1. Central

More pictures from the Lincoln anti-drones protest

Protesters before the march began at South Park in Lincoln Credit: ITV News Central

Around 400 people have marched from link to RAF Waddington against a new fleet of armed drones being based in the UK for the first time.

The drones, which were previously operated from a United States Air Force base in Nevada, are used to support ground troops in Afghanistan.

Marchers arrived from Peterborough Credit: ITV News Central
Credit: ITV News Central
  1. Central

Hundreds start drone protest march to RAF Waddington

Crowds of peace campaigners gather in Lincoln for start of anti-drone protest march Credit: ITV Central

Hundreds of peace campaigners have started marching from Lincoln to RAF Waddington, in protest of a new fleet of armed drones being based in the UK for the first time.

Protesters preparing their banners before the march takes place Credit: ITV Central

The RAF began remotely operating its Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles earlier this week from the airbase in Lincolnshire.

Previously operated from a United States Air Force base in Nevada, the aircraft are used to support coalition ground forces in Afghanistan.

Banners are laid out at South Park in Lincoln before the march takes place Credit: ITV Central

Members of the Stop The War Coalition, CND, The Drone Campaign Network and War on Want are estimated to walk the four mile route in around two hours.

It's expected to take the protesters two hours to walk the four mile route from Lincoln to RAF WAddington. Credit: ITV Central
  1. Central

Route of armed drone protest march in Lincoln

The protest march will start at South Park in Lincoln Credit: ITV Central

Hundreds of protesters are due to start marching from Lincoln to RAF Waddington against the use of armed drone aircraft.

It's the first time the Ministry of Defence has based the spy planes in the UK, which will be deployed over Afghanistan.

Today's march will start at South Park, down the A15 Cross O'Cliff hill and down Grantham Road to a Peace camp set up outside the airbase.


  1. Central

Police tweet details about today's Drone protest march

Lincolnshire Police will be live tweeting details of road closures during today's protest march over armed drone planes being based at RAF Waddington.

Hundreds are expected to walk from South Park in Lincoln to the base. It's the first time the RAF has based the crewless aircraft in the UK.

  1. Central

Surveillance drones flown for first time from UK

The new aircraft, known as 13 Squadron, which were officially "stood up" in October, started flying missions over Afghanistan this week from their base in Lincolnshire.

The drones will be used in Afghanistan Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

The hi-tech Reaper drones are primarily used to gather intelligence on enemy activity on the ground, but they also carry 500lb bombs and Hellfire missiles for precision strikes on insurgents.

An MoD spokesman said they had been carrying out missions including intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, but would not comment on exactly what individual missions had been flown in the past week by drones piloted from the UK.

  1. National

War protester: 'Now is the time to ban killer drones'

Ahead of a planned protest outside an RAF base today against the UK's use of armed drones in Afghanistan, War on Want senior campaigns officer Rafeef Ziadah said:

Drones, controlled far away from conflict zones, ease politicians' decisions to launch military strikes and order extrajudicial assassinations, without democratic oversight or accountability to the public.

"Now is the time to ban killer drones - before it is too late.

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