INSPIRATIONAL and a role model is what Cotswold man Kevin Sheppard hopes he will be to children across the country after returning from a gruelling race to the North Pole.

Kevin left for the North Pole in April to compete in the annual Polar Challenge in a bid to raise £30,000 for Gloucestershire children’s charity Winston’s Wish.

He chose the charity, which helps young people re-adjust to life after the death of a parent or sibling, after suffering his own family tragedy when his elder brother Andrew was killed in a motorbike accident when Kevin was aged just 13.

It took Kevin, a buyer for Cirencester medical engineering firm Corin, 625hours to complete the Polar Challenge, which only 42 people worldwide are chosen to compete in. But he had spent 18months preparing for the challenge.

During the challenge the 39-year-old experienced temperatures of –45C and biting 35mph winds that caused cuts to his face but due to global warming he said the climate was fairly mild.

At one point during the trip Kevin and his Team Sheppard teammates Jo Maddocks and Claire Stringer were caught up in a blizzard, which was the worst to hit the area for two years. It created a complete 'white out' which made travelling even more hazardous.

"Our GPS wouldn’t work and we couldn’t differentiate between the ground and the sky and there were ice rubbles, large boulders in the landscape, which we had to avoid too," he said.

During the challenge the teams of three had certain time-scales in which to reach destinations. Team Sheppard succeeded in reaching the finish line in time, a moment that Kevin said he would never forget.

"As I reached the magnetic North Pole and my GPS said ‘000’ I just felt euphoric and so privileged to be stood there."

For Kevin completing the journey was not only a physical feat but also an "emotional achievement".

"I really want to be an inspiration to young people and be a role model for bereaved children," he said.

"I am overwhelmed with the experience and hope what I have done makes a huge difference to Winston's Wish."

Since returning Kevin has been approached by broadcasters who want to share his inspiring journey.

And, despite being back from his 400mile-trek for barely a week, the former soldier is already preparing to abseil Cheltenham’s 161-foot Eagle Tower on Saturday to raise more money for the charity.

He will team up with Winston's Wish co-founder Julie Stokes, who invited him to the event after seeing his dedication to the charity.

Kevin hopes all his hard work over the past 18months and the work that he will continue to do will help bring more children closer to their dreams.

His future goal is to turn Team Sheppard into an inspirational educational organisation that will make a difference to children’s lives by helping them to believe in themselves.

"My brother Andrew was with me every step of the way and I know if he was around today he’d be immensely proud of my achievements."

Kevin hopes others will join his campaign ‘Team Sheppard’ by following him on his website