THE talents of a creative art student kept warm the cuddly companion of an intrepid explorer in icy temperatures.
Mary Mouse, the seventh member of Sir Ranulph Fiennes’ 2,000 mile expedition The Coldest Journey, was protected from temperatures of up to -70C by a miniature coat and scarf created by Cleveland College of Art and Design student Sarah Hargreaves.
The 5inch-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 is a teacher.
Diane became involved with The Coldest Journey around two years ago through teaching resources.
One of the books she used, Ponko and the South Pole, mentioned a mascot used by Herbert Pointing, the photographer of Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s ill-fated expedition of 1912-13, which is now in the Maritime Museum London.
After making links with the team, Diane suggested that her school provide a similar mascot for this journey and asked a pupil’s grandmother to knit a mouse, named Mary, after the school.
Then Diane asked her daughter Sarah, who studies costume and interpretation at the Hartlepool campus of Cleveland College of Art and Design, if she could make some suitable clothing for the trip.
Sarah, 19, said; “I’d never been asked to make a costume for a knitted mouse before and it was a little bit fiddly.
“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 5inch mouse I still used all of the techniques that I’d learned 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 end in September, aims to raise $10m for Seeing is Believing, an international charity tackling blindness.
There will be a documentary and a book made afterwards and it is hoped that if Mary Mouse does not get lost in the vast wilderness of Antarctica, she will also find a home with Ponko in the British Maritime Museum.
Sarah, from Stockton, added: “It’s really exciting to be part of something so historic.
“We are always encouraged by the tutors to do our own projects and it is incredible to think that my work is being seen by millions of people online and may also be seen by many more in years to come.”
Sarah and her fellow costume design and interpretation students are holding an exhibition at the college from June 7-29.