Craig Mathieson, September 2014
With all the selection weekends completed, the extremely difficult task of choosing the lucky ‘10’ young adults that will go on the Polar Academy’s expedition to Greenland next April had to be done.
If truth be told, everyone who went through the selection process deserved to go; however, we had to sit down and make some difficult decisions. When we were finished, my guides and I were all in agreement that we had chosen a team who would not only grow over the next few months of training into confident individuals, but would be an inspiration to their peers once they returned from the ice.
On Sunday 13th July, I invited the selected participants and their parents over to my house for a meeting. At this point, nobody knew if they were successful or not, so emotions were running high as I asked them one at a time to come into my front room for a chat. There was also the added pressure of a television film crew who have been documenting the Polar Academy for the past few months.
The reactions from both the participants and the parents were incredible as I told them that they had been selected for the first ever Polar Academy expedition to Greenland. There were tears of joy from everyone, especially the parents. It means so much to them all, a true life-changing opportunity, a chance to break the mould and achieve something beyond their dreams.
Therefore, I’m very proud to announce that the first ever Polar Academy Team is: Carla Brawley, Sara Dunn, Morgan Healy, Jack Inglis, Colin Myles, Paul Shuttleworth, Holly Stewart, Jodie Thorburn, Mateusz Trojnar, and Rhiannon Walker.
The day wasn’t done yet: I still had to give the news to the unsuccessful candidates. I had been thinking of how to do this for many weeks previously, as I still wanted everyone to be involved with the Polar Academy. Therefore, along with the Active School Co-ordinators in North Lanarkshire, we devised a plan. We would find further funding to send them back to Glenmore Lodge to complete the ‘Polar Academy Leadership Course’.
This course has been designed to give everyone the level of knowledge to be able to go into primary schools and teach basic outdoor skills, such as navigation and camping.
Therefore, we now have two teams: the Expedition Team who are training hard for a man-hauling expedition to Greenland next April, and the Leadership Team. This team will be training alongside the Expedition Team and will be called upon to join the expedition if there is an injury to a member of the team. They will also be conducting a lecture tour of primary schools within their community, inspiring the younger generation in outdoor skills and geography.
In October, everyone returns to Glenmore Lodge for what will be an intensive week of training. Many of the sessions will be for both teams; however, the Expedition Team will spend a couple of nights out in the Cairngorms to experience a taste of expedition life.
In other news, I’m not long back from a trip up to East Greenland, getting the logistics firmed up for next year’s expedition. All our dehydrated food and sledges were shipped up a few weeks ago, so it was great to see that everything had arrived safely. I also caught up with my contacts in the hospital and police, as well as local hunters and outfitters, to let them all know what we are planning to do and what support I would like them to provide.