FREEZING temperatures and giant blisters were not enough to stop Veronica Shaw achieving her dream of reaching the South Pole.
The 47-year-old mother-of-five, of Canal Road, Trowbridge, arrived back in the UK on Friday after her epic journey to complete explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton's unfinished expedition.
The trip got off to a bad start when she and the other members of the team went down with food poisoning and their plane was delayed by bad weather.
But on Christmas Eve the team arrived on the Polar Plateau to start the journey, which only about 200 people have completed since Shackleton's failed attempt.
Mrs Shaw said: "It was very cold, about -35 degrees C, and there was just a vast white space ahead. The only sound was if there was a bit of wind or the sound of skis and there were no smells, so it was very strange.
"Sleeping was a respite. We put tents up each night and put the stoves on.
It took about 45 minutes just to boil enough water for a hot drink."
To cope with the cold Mrs Shaw had to wear two layers of thermals, five pairs of gloves and two balaclavas as well as outer clothes, fur trimmed hoods, goggles and masks.
One of the major risks is frostbite and as the team prepared to start their journey several RAF men were brought back to the Patriot Hills base and had to have fingers amputated.
Mrs Shaw said: "We walked for 10 days and I got huge blisters on both my feet. I even thought about pulling out but I'd been asked to deliver a letter for World of Postage for Zenetta Rothschild, a pupil at Stonar School in Atworth.
"The school now has a link to the base at the South Pole so they can communicate with them.
"It was the letter and thinking about my family that kept me going and I decided I had to carry on." Morale was heightened slightly when the team caught a glimpse of the South Pole on the horizon, but it was another eight hours before they arrived on New Year's Day.
"By the time we got to the Pole it was -47 degrees C. My feet hurt and I was very cold so I was pretty miserable," said Mrs Shaw.
They had a tour of the Amundsen-Scott base, where 250 people live and work before flying back to the Patriot Hills base, where their flight back to Chile was delayed by five days.
Since her return Mrs Shaw has been trying to readjust to normal life.
She said: "It was lovely to get back home and my husband and children were really pleased to have me back.
"I'd sum the trip up as enjoyment and endurance. It was an extreme challenge that took me beyond myself. I was completely exhausted by the end but the feedback I've had is great.
"One mum said she'd never done anything like it but I'd inspired her into doing the Inca Trail. Another mum is going back to university after hearing about what I've done, which is really encouraging."
Mrs Shaw has raised about £2,500 for ClicSargent from the trip while the team has raised about £10,000 for Breast Cancer Research.