Ed Stafford Visits Wilmington Grammar School Ed Stafford, the first person in history to walk the length the Amazon River in South America from the source to the sea, came to Wilmington Grammar School for Boys on Wednesday 6th July to give an inspirational talk to our Sixth Form students. Ed’s 4,300 mile journey was the longest jungle expedition ever recorded and took 860 days to complete. Ed completed the expedition on the 9th August 2010 and his story was shared around the world. Ed Stafford was invited to speak to Year 12 students by Mrs A Regan the Sixth Form Student Manager. Ed spoke about overcoming obstacles and explained that when he first decided to trek the Amazon he was knocked back by almost everyone he approached for funding, as they all thought he was undeniably insane! He was told he would never be able to complete the trek; however he carried on his fight for funding, with the challenge of being the first man known to take on such a pursuit, driving him forward. His persistence paid off and he finally gained sponsorship to complete the expedition. Through planning the route he would take, Ed had estimated that by walking 11 miles per day he would be able to complete the trek in 11 months. The trek eventually took him 860 days to complete. Ed started his trek on 2nd April 2008 with his friend Luke Collyer, but as their differences mounted and arguments erupted, Luke made the decision to leave the trek after just three months. Ed was forced to enlist the help of local guides to help him navigate the route and gain permission through some of the more challenging terrain. Some guides walked with him for a day or two, others for longer. Their local knowledge and more importantly the ability to speak the local dialect enabled Ed to negotiate permission to trek through the “red zone” of Peru. The red zone is home to terrorists, drug runners and cocaine manufacturing plants; permission to enter them is strictly controlled by drug barons. There was a very real risk to Ed’s personal safety whilst in the red zone and he found it difficult to find guides who were prepared to accompany him. Most guides were only prepared to walk with him from one town to the border of another, being careful not to stray into the border of the next town. Whilst walking through Ashinenka communities in Peru, Ed met a local man called Gadiel ‘Cho’ Rivera. Cho agreed to accompany Ed to the next district only but ended up accompanying Ed for the rest of the trek! – some 20 months. During the credit crunch of 2009 Ed received an email informing him that funding for his expedition had run out. He felt as he was so far into his trip, giving up, because of a cash flow problem, was not an option. Therefore Ed and Cho carried on their trek with Ed having to use his personal finances. Meanwhile in the UK, a member of his family set up a Paypal account and a page on Facebook asking for donations. Until the money started to come through, Ed and Cho were forced to ration their food until eventually they had nothing left to eat. They were miles from the nearest town and although Ed had adopted a non-hunting policy during the trek, when an unsuspecting tortoise came their way they took this opportunity to feed themselves Ed reported that the tortoise was surprisingly delicious! During this time, they also lived on a diet of red belly piranhas to keep them going. The dangers were great, but the pressures connected with continuing the expedition were greater as Ed’s insurance for the trek elapsed, funding ran out and his GPS stopped working. Against the odds though Ed and Cho continued and on the 9th August 2010 they reached the Atlantic ocean and Ed’s place in the record books was cemented. Students and staff thoroughly enjoyed the intriguing talk from Ed and WGSB are looking forward to welcoming him back when his next top secret expedition is revealed!