A FORMER England rugby ace has completed a mammoth challenge to raise money for a charity close to his heart.

Will Greenwood, of Hurst Green, reached the North Pole on Friday morning with his eight team-mates as part of the Borne Arctic Challenge 2018.

Borne, a charity that Will and his wife Caro are patrons of, specialises in medical research which aims to identify the causes of premature birth to save lives, prevent disability and create lifelong health for mothers and babies.

Will and Caro first became involved with Borne after they lost their first child Freddie, who was born prematurely at 22 weeks, living only for 45 minutes.

In a video filmed for the charity the couple described how eternally grateful they were for the work of Mark Johnson, the founder of Borne.

Will said: “Through his research and his incredible brain he will be able to support others by doing his research away from the delivery theatres and away from the families who are either having an amazingly happy day, or a tragic day where they have to come to terms with the fact that they’re leaving hospital without a child.

“Supporting Borne gives more people Mark Johnson and for me that is a very, very special treat for families.”

After the death of Freddie, Caro found out she has a condition where the cervix shortens too soon into pregnancy and brings on labour. Most women do not know they are at risk until they lose a baby.

The Borne Arctic Challenge began on April 14 in Longyearbyen on the Archipelago of Svalbard, a remote Norwegian village situated above the Arctic Circle.

After a couple of days training, Will and his eight fellow team-mates were ready to begin the challenge, where they had to walk up to eight hours a day.

The aim of the challenge was to raise £750,000 towards new research into the maternal immune system, which it’s hoped could lead to the first medical breakthrough in 50 years. Will said he was ‘battered but proud’ after completing the challenge.