Jan Meek is a remarkable woman whose life would make an amazing book or film, if only she had time to write it!
Jan Meek started her career in the film industry, spending 10 years on the sets of Hollywood films and TV series, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Roger Moore and Sammi Davis Jnr among others. After raising a family and working in the Middle East, she owned and ran a number of restaurants and hotels in Oxfordshire and even became the first female chair of the local Chamber of Commerce.
Following the untimely death of her husband in the 90s, she went trekking around China on her own visiting places far from the tourist trail. The trip, at a time when lone female travelers were unheard of in China, whetted her appetite for adventure and became a foretaste of things to come.
In 1997 her son Daniel asked her to join him for the first ever ocean rowing race. At the time, only 22 people had ever rowed an ocean with six having died trying, yet Jan didn’t let these statistics, or the fact that she had never set foot in a rowing boat in her life, put her off. She seized the moment and the intrepid pair spent 101 days at sea in their tiny wooden rowing boat, crossing over 3000 nautical miles and setting a World Record as the first mother and son team to row any ocean.
In 2007, again with her son Daniel, Jan successfully completed the toughest race in the world – on foot. Jan, Daniel and Richard (a friend of Dan’s) covered 350 nautical miles from Resolute Bay to the Magnetic North Pole, hauling all their necessary equipment on sledges. On arriving at the North Pole, Jan and Daniel became the first mother and son to reach any Pole by foot – during the 24-day trek, they survived Polar Bears, temperatures as low as -68oC, the worst ice conditions for years, miles of slush and open water – and a near-catastrophic tent fire which almost brought their adventure to a disastrous end! In fact, Guinness World Records were so impressed by Jan and Daniel’s achievement, printing of the 2008 Guinness Book of Records was delayed so it could include the intrepid pair.