Jo Vellino

After university Jo, 25, took part in the ‘Teachfirst’ programme, spending 2 years teaching Psychology and Geography in an inner-city London Secondary School. One of her favourite roles was setting up the Duke of Edinburgh Award at the school, training students and organizing expeditions for both the Bronze and Silver Award. Jo continues to do this even after deciding to leave teaching to work in ‘the city’. She is currently working in graduate recruitment and living in her hometown of Tonbridge in Kent. In the long-term, Jo plans to emigrate to the sunny climes of Australia. An awesome skier and self-confessed adrenaline-junkie, Jo is excited about using her new-found power-kiting skills to cross Greenland… fast.

Why are you doing this?
I have watched with envy and admiration at the kind of ventures that Felicity and other notable females have completed over the past few years and have always thought, “Why can’t I do something like that?” I relish any kind of physical challenge and love the opportunity of doing something ‘out of the ordinary’. I am so excited to be involved in a project that will stand as a British first; of experiencing this starkly beautiful country; and learning truly what it is like to push myself both physically and mentally to the absolute extreme.

What are you most looking forward to about the expedition?
I am so excited about all the things that I am going to learn over the coming months in preparation for the expedition. We have such great support from experts and specialists in associated fields, whether it be the kiting, physical training, first aid or even the sponsorship side of things, I feel very privileged to be learning from their experiences. And I just can’t wait to get fully into the kiting… I know that I am absolutely going to love it!

What are you most dreading about the expedition?
I guess the idea that in some way I won’t be prepared or that I will let the team down. I know that I just have to do everything possible over the coming months to prepare myself physically and mentally and only then will I be content. I am also daunted by the isolation of the expedition, not in a physical or geographical sense, but mentally. Not really being able to talk to the other girls as we go along and being alone with my thoughts for such long periods of time will be a nightmare for me. I know that I am going to have to be mentally very strong to keep focused and drive myself along in those dark hours.

What motivates/ inspires you?
People. Those that have both the foresight and courage to dare to be different and to be proud of being so. People that both make and take opportunities, whether it be for the benefit of their own personal experience or that of others. Those that never take the ‘easy option’. People who, despite various challenges, still pursue dreams or ambitions and show a gritted determination to succeed. And people who often do whatever they can, even the every day little things, to make life in some way better for other people.

Who would you take on for the 5th team member?
Undoubtedly my sister, Cath. We are so competitive with each other that I know we would keep each other going and we know each other so well that we can just sense how each other are feeling. I know we would also potentially drive each other mad (understatement!) but at the same time I can’t think of anyone else who I would rather share the experience with.

How will you prepare mentally?
For me, it will be a case of putting in a lot of long hours of physical training, in order to give myself absolute confidence in my own ability. I know that I can be my own worst enemy, so on all of my long training walks/runs I will need to just get used to being with my own thoughts. Either that or just making sure I fill my iPod with lots of hugely motivating (but distracting) songs that I can sing along to!

What will you take with you for luck?
A photo or two… My family and my mates (all the girls from school!)