JAMES Abbott will be keeping a cool head - and everything else - when he takes part in the world's most arduous polar race.

The 29-year-old teacher at Abberley Hall School, near Great Witley, is one of a three-strong team aiming to set a new record during the Polar Challenge, in April.

Mr Abbott and his team-mates, Stuart Nenson and Zu Zurafalet, both from London, have just returned from training in Austria for the 32-mile event, in which they will be competing against 19 other teams.

The aim of the ski-trek challenge is to reach the Magnetic North Pole in the quickest time. Last year's winners completed the task in 21 days.

Mr Abbott's Bearhuggers' team will have to contend with temperatures that plummet to minus 70C, hauling sledges that weigh up to 150lbs - while avoiding the world's largest polar bear population.

It will be a far cry from his everyday duties at Abberley Hall, where he has taught design technology for six years.

"I'm a bit of a crazy man for challenges and I can't say no," said Mr Abbott, who lives at Wyre Piddle, near Pershore.

There is another aspect to the Bearhuggers' participation in the race, as the team is keen to raise awareness of climate change issues.

"It is our mission to be responsible throughout our preparation and during the event to calculate the carbon emissions we will produce," said Mr Abbott.

"We want to demonstrate how easy it is to be responsible for your carbon emissions and encourage individuals to challenge the way they go about their lives."

He is no novice when it comes to taking part in expeditions in Canada and has had experience of endurance tasks.

Mr Abbott leaves England for Resolute in Canada on April 11 for the event, which will be televised on April 22.

The team's progress can be monitored by logging onto www.bearhuggers.co.uk