An elite para-skier and former soldier from Devon is poised to become the first disabled person to ski solo and unsupported to the South Pole.

Jonny Huntington, who lives in Kingsbridge, will embark on the expedition to Antarctica in November. He will cover 911 kilometres of icy tundra in about 40 days, dragging all his supplies in a sledge weighing 90 kilos.

To give an idea of the scale of the challenge, fewer people have skied solo to the South Pole than have been to space (51 compared to about 650 people). However, no-one with a disability has reportedly ever attempted to do the former.

Mr Huntington suffered a devastating stroke in 2014 while working out in the gym, just eight weeks after commissioning into the British Army, which left him paralysed from the neck down on the left side of his body.

After years of rehab he was able to walk again, although he was left with restricted movement on the whole of his affected side.

During his recovery he became a member of the Armed Forces Para-Snowsport Team (AFPST), which fuelled his love of cross-country skiing.

Last year, he completed an ultra-marathon from Manchester to London in preparation for the upcoming expedition, and on Tuesday (April 9) he completed the final stretch of a gruelling 20-day solo training session through Sweden.

Speaking exclusively to this paper, he said the blizzard conditions were so fierce at times that he felt like he was “inside a ping-pong ball”.

He said: “I feel that I could continue, which is pretty much the point of this. It’s been the perfect training ground. We’ve had everything from bright sunshine to howling gales and what you might expect when you’re in Antarctica.”

Explaining the reason for undertaking such a demanding expedition, he said it was “really important to push oneself”, regardless of one’s circumstances.

“It’s a big personal goal and the most challenging thing I’ve ever done, but at the same time I can use this to encourage other people to push themselves and try to overcome their own issues,” he said.