Jan Meek - Polar Maiden 2018 Organiser - Expedition to the South Pole
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Jan Meek

Jan Meek
Age 73


Polar Maidens’ expedition organiser, Jan Meek, is currently a motivational speaker. She’s also a loving grandmother, mother and wife.  


Jan Meek provides motivational presentations to schools, charities and non-commercial organisations and businesses. She is also the Polar Maidens’ expedition founder and organiser.


In Jan’s early career she was a continuity girl for TV and film. She had an office next door to Roger Moore’s dressing room whilst he was filming ‘The Saint’!


She later worked for five years in Saudi Arabia with the United States Geological Survey, then returned to the UK where she ran several businesses (including a children’s boutique and a wedding venue). Finding the time in between a busy career to become the first female Chair of Chipping Norton Chamber of Commerce, Town Mayor and non-executive director of Heart of England TEC. Throughout the various jobs Jan has had, she’s developed the skills to speak to large audiences. 


In the 90’s after the tragic death of her husband, Jan found a passion for adventure and this became her way of life. In 1994, she cycled around China. In 1998 she rowed 3505 miles across the Atlantic with her son in a 23ft rowing boat. 2007 found her racing 403 miles to the North Magnetic Pole (as part of Sir David Hempleman-Adams’ expedition) and in 2008 she trekked to the Geographic Pole. These adventures earned her Guinness World Records including:


  • First mother and son team to row any ocean (1998)
  • Oldest woman to row an ocean in a mixed pair (1998)
  • First mother and son team to reach a pole (2007)


In 2014 Jan trekked to the Everest Base Camp to gain altitude experience of 17,700 feet in preparation for her planned trek of taking four women to the South Pole. She will be the only woman to have undertaken this so another potential Guinness World Record is on the cards.


The first challenge Jan faced was when she was aged just four and a half. This was when she was sent to boarding school which made her stand on her own feet from a tender age. Throughout her life she’s moved a total of 54 times. This resulted in her frequently changing schools as a child and continuously creating new networks as an adult.


One huge challenge Jan has dealt with in her life was the death of her husband at the age of 47. The way she looks at it is: “It was the end of one life but the beginning of my life for adventure.”  

Q&A with Jan Meek

What’s your motivation for being a Polar Maiden?

Having made it to the two North Poles, I became fascinated by all things Arctic and Antarctic. The next logical adventure just had to be the South Pole. The idea of then sharing this adventure with other ‘ordinary’ women, from different cultures and ages has evolved over time.


What have you found the most challenging with your training?

Training and keeping fit has become a part of my everyday life and being older it is essential for me to keep up my fitness. For this trip, being the organiser as well, has meant that finding the time to train, rather than the actual training has been the main challenge.  I need some more hours in the day!


What three home comforts will you miss during your time at the South Pole?

A comfortable bed, a hot shower and just turning on a tap for water. We will have to melt snow for our water. I had to pump sea water through a desalinating pump when on the ocean.

What are you most looking forward to during the expedition?

Experiencing first hand this wild and distant continent and challenging myself to show ‘age is just a number’. Seeing the beauty and overcoming the hardship, while sharing it with the team I have gathered round me and grown to love and admire.


Is there anything you are worried about pre, during and post the trek?

Pre the trek – getting an illness or injury that might prevent me going.

During the trek – making sure that everyone in the team, despite the hardship and extreme conditions, will both endure and enjoy the journey.

Post the trek – no worries on this, have found from past experience you get swept along with the excitement of sharing your adventure and then deciding ‘what’s next?’.


How do you think you will maintain your drive to complete the expedition?

On all of my adventures, I have found the hard part is raising funds, getting fit and organising the actual trip. Once you actually begin, the adrenaline takes over. Also, we are such a great team I know we will all support each other and spur each along.

Jan’s Gallery

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