British man dies during Greenland expedition

greenlandA British comedy promoter and “Arctic virgin” lost his life on Sunday, shortly after he and two friends began a 644kms trek across Greenland’s ice cap. The other two men on the expedition are recovering from shock and frostbite in hospital.

Family members of Philip Goodeve-Docker confirmed his death on his Facebook page, which now contains many tributes to the man whose late grandfather, Patrick Pirie-Gordon, inspired him to undertake the risky expedition across Greenland’s Arctic landscape.

Prior to his death two years ago, Pirie-Gordon had been treasurer of both the Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) and the Royal Geographical Society. Pirie-Gordon was also honorary vice president of the latter organisation, which provides funds for polar exploration.

Goodeve-Docker said on his JustGiving fundraising webpage that his grandfather was intensely passionate about both organisations. Goodeve-Docker also said, “It gave me added incentive to say yes to the expedition and, because of their fantastic work in nursing and helping those in need at home, to do my part for QNI.”

As of 1 May, visitors to the fundraising webpage have donated over £6,000 to the QNI. On the JustGiving fundraising webpage, Goodeve-Docker listed deep crevasses, polar bears, harsh winds, and bitterly cold temperatures among the dangers he and his two teammates might encounter on their “frankly nutty adventure.”

Goodeve-Docker, a comedy promoter who ran an agency called Purple Cactus, prepared for his expedition by dragging tyres close to his Ealing home. Goodeve-Docker’s teammates, expedition leader Roan Hackney  and  Andy Norman from Berkshire, are both recovering from frostbite and shock in hospital. Hackney was the only one of the three with previous Arctic expedition experience.

Only two days into the planned 35 day expedition, a rare Greenlandic snowstorm called a Piteraq blew away the men’s tent. Although they called for help on Friday, rescuers could not reach them until Saturday morning, by which time Goodeve-Docker was already dead.

“One of the men said they thought Goodeve-Docker had probably died during the night. The other men are OK and are on their way back to the UK,” Greenland police chief inspector Paul Pitersen said in a Guardian interview. “They were very unlucky. They were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Tributes and donations continue to pour in on both Goodeve-Docker’s JustGiving fundraising webpage and his Facebook page, where his family said, “We wanted to let everyone know that on Sunday morning we had a phone call to confirm that Philip sadly died.”

“To our son, brother and friend, we are so glad that you were on your adventure and expedition that you had wanted to do for so long. You will be unbelievably missed and your memory cherished. xx”