2:00pm Monday 27th May 2013
By Barry Nelson
A TINY knitted mouse dressed by a North-East art student is the seventh member of Sir Ranulph Fiennes latest polar treak.
Mary Mouse, which is currently part of a 2,000 mile expedition know as The Coldest Journey is protected from temperatures of up to -70C by a miniature coat and scarf created by Cleveland College of Art & Design student Sarah Hargreaves.
The 15cm tall mouse, made as a mascot for the journey, was handed over to Sir Ranulph and the expedition team members at a ceremony in London by pupils from St Mary's RC School, Newton Aycliffe, where Sarah's mum Diane Hargreaves is a Year 5 teacher.
"I became involved with the Coldest Journey almost two years ago when I created and trialled some teaching resources in school," said Diane. "One of the books I used mentioned a mascot called Ponko used by Herbert Pointing, the photographer on Scott's ill fated expedition of 1921-1913, which is now in the Maritime Museum London.
"We'd made some links with the team so I suggested that our school provide a similar mascot for this journey and asked one of our pupils' grandmothers if she could knit a mouse which the children named Mary, after the school."
Taking the small mouse home Diane asked her daughter Sarah, a costume design and interpretation student at CCAD, if she could make some suitable clothing for Mary for her trip.
"It was a little bit fiddly," said Sarah, 19, of Stockton-on-Tees. "It reminded me of when I used to make clothes for my dolls when I was younger.
"As well as making the tiny blue felt coat, embroidered with St Mary's school logo on the back, I also made Mary a tartan scarf and a tiny pair of skis from ice lolly sticks.
"Even though the clothes were for just for a 5in mouse I still used all of the techniques that I'd learnt on my course, just as I would with any garment, measuring, making the toile first then the actual coat itself."
The Coldest Journey, which is due to be completed in September 2013, is aiming to raise $10m for Seeing is Believing, an international charity tackling blindness.
There will be a documentary and a book made following the expedition and it is hoped that Mary Mouse will also find a home with Ponko in the British Maritime Museum.
Followers of the The Coldest Journey can also log on to Mary Mouse's blog @The Coldest Journey.org which is regularly updated by the expedition team "It's really exciting to be part of something so historic," added Sarah. "We are always encouraged by the tutors here at CCAD to do our own projects and it is incredible to think that my work is being seen by millions of people on line and may also be seen by many more in years to come."
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