As we prepare to leave the continent after a tumultuous year, it falls to me to write the final plea. Although we have failed in our objective to cross Antarctica, it will have escaped nobody’s notice that our other, more important objective was to draw attention to the work of Seeing is Believing. This brilliant charity transforms lives, by helping to treat or prevent avoidable blindness all over the world. To my mind it is one of the very best (and cheapest) ways in which you can help your fellow inhabitants of this beautiful planet.

Ran in Bangladesh

Sir Ranulph Fiennes witnesses Seeing is Believing at work in Bangladesh

The good news is that with your help we’ve raised $2 million. Over $20,000 has come from direct online donations from our facebook and website followers, and for that a huge thank you from the entire Coldest Journey team, both here on the ice and back home in the UK. Many folks I know personally (you know who you are!) have made extraordinarily generous donations, some in lieu of birthday presents and the like, and to them I’d like to add my personal thanks. And the people who’ve got involved in the ‘Challenge Yourself’ initiative have been inspirations to us all; they’ve raised about $200,000 (!), and their challenges have, I hope, helped to change their own lives as well as those of sightless people thousands of miles away.

You can probably see where this is going, and I make no apology for one final tug on the heartstrings. Remember that every pound, dollar, rand, or euro we raise is doubled by Standard Chartered Bank, so if you’ve enjoyed following the expedition, and have thought about donating, the time is now! £20 buys a cataract operation. If you have an annual ‘charity budget’, how about combining your planned donations for the next year or two? It’s all worth twice as much if you do it now. Carpe diem, as they say…

Joanna in Bangladesh

Joanna Lumley sees how the charity is giving help where it is needed most

If you’ve decided not to donate, I hope that we’ve at least been able to entertain and maybe even inform you over the last 11 months. If you’d like to hear more, there will be an online press conference after we return to the UK in a couple of weeks; stay tuned for more news on that.

In the meantime, our sincerest thanks once more to all our supporters. I wish we could have brought you with us, just to experience one day of this journey for real. Although, culinary genius or not, I’m not sure Richie would have coped with the extra several thousand mouths to feed!

Feeling slightly emotional as our time here draws to a close, so I’ll stop wittering now and sign off there. Cheers, thanks again, and hugs to all. Rob out.