The Polar Academy - sights firmly set on first expedition

3 August 2014

So much has happened since my last post, much of which is detailed on our Facebook page - The Polar Academy. After some intense selection weekends at the Glenmore Lodge, we now have the '10' expedition members for next April's expedition to East Greenland. The final selection was extremely difficult as all the participants and their parents gave 100%; however, safety and financial restrictions means we can only take 10 - I wish we could take everyone. Selection Weekend Selection weekend Nicola and Joanne - 2 inspirational Active School Coordinators who are part of The Polar Academy. The Expedition team will now begin their training to ensure that over the coming months they become a well-honed and disciplined group, confident in their abilities and focussed on all our objectives. In October, the team will return to the Glenmore Lodge for a week long polar expedition course with Nigel Williams, Head of Training at the Lodge and myself. I guarantee you that when they return from Greenland next year; they will have a tale to tell that will inspire a generation. These #true# role-models will demonstrate that anything in life is possible with the right self-belief and drive to achieve. For starters, they will give inspirational talks to a minimum of 24,000 youths in their local community, thereafter the sky is the limit, and there will be no stopping them. On the funding side of matters, we are getting there. I feel extremely privileged and proud to be involved with such inspirational and forward thinking sponsors and supporters. The list continues to grow; however, the following really need a mention:-
Bergans of Norway - This company quite simply provides the absolute best Polar clothing and equipment on the planet. For me personally, to be associated with such a company, who have been kitting out polar expeditions since Amundsen and Scott, is a real privilege.
Tiso - I owe much of my success in the world of Polar expeditions to this company but to especially to their CEO, Chris Tiso. Over the years Chris has become a good friend who has always been there for me. As a true explorer himself, he fully understands the aims of the Polar Academy.
Craneware Plc - Another company with a great vision who has grasped the importance of the Polar Academy and what it means to inspire the youth of today.
Cornhill Building Services - A close family company with hearts of gold who really helped get the Polar Academy off the ground.
Baillie Gifford - The financial support from this company has been outstanding.
If you think you or your company would like to make the vision of the Polar Academy happen then please feel free to get in touch. Over the next couple of months you will be introduced to the first Polar Academy expedition team and see their progression. It fills me with pride to be involved with the Polar Academy, the '10' are already an inspiration to their peers, their community, their families and to me.


Tour of the Isles

3 April 2014

Now back from a few days speaking about The Polar Academy to the good people from the Isle of Lewis, Harris and Benbecula. All the schools kids I spoke we're great, I would love to have a group from the Outer Hebrides go on a Polar Academy expedition one day - they could return and inspire every kid on the Islands. I've attached a picture of a young lad who would be an ideal candidate - he was helping me out at the Hebridean Science Festival last Saturday - and trying out my latest Bergans of Norway kit.

Polar Academy Update - Team Selection

24 March 2014

It's been a really busy few weeks. Firstly, I had a great time up at the Glenmore Lodge ( putting the final touches to the Selection Course Weekend, the first of which is happening on 3/4 May. Not only will the Lodge's head of training, Nigel Williams, be will running the course, he will also be part of the leadership team which goes to Greenland next year. Another additions to the leadership team is Dr Mike Wild, a very experienced expedition doctor and Jess Ridgeway, again directly from the Glenmore Lodge staff. I am so pleased to be have such a strong and experienced leadership team. As for the selection of the youths, the first 10 have been selected from Coltness High School in North Lanarkshire. Coltness is a fantastic school with a true leader at the helm, the Head Teacher, Nancy Wilson. The second group of 10 youths will be selected this time tomorrow from St Aidans High School, again in North Lanarkshire. Behind the scenes the fundraising continues. The Polar Academy 180 degree initiative is really going down well - this is where we ask for businesses/individuals to donate a minimum amount of £1,000 per year for a 3 year period. By being part of the '180' makes this truly once in life time expedition happen for these kids. Remember, it's not just the 10 who get to go on the expedition who benefits, on their return they will embark on a lecture tour, inspiring 24,000 of their peers, giving them the message that they can achieve anything they put their minds to. However, if you want to donate smaller amounts, then please just get in touch by email or give me a call - see contact page. Alternatively, if you would like to volunteer to help out, again please just get in touch.

Many thanks.


STV News

A big leap forward with the Polar Academy this week by gaining charitable status (SC044605). I've also attached a recent TV news interview -

It's all good.


Fundraising & Sponsorship Lecture - 27th February in Edinburgh

I am very pleased to announce that I will be holding a fundraising lecture at Artillery House in Edinburgh on the 27th of February for my Polar Academy. This venue is truly fantastic and I'm very pleased that my good friend Lt.Col James Cook of the 105th Regiment Royal Artillery will be attending on the night. I will put out more details soon; however, it will also be an opportunity for the corporate world to get involved in the Polar Academy through sponsorship. Places will need to be limited so if you wish to come along and be involved in the Polar Academy then please send me an email -

Many thanks.


The Polar Academy - Update

Hi, since my last post I've been completely flat out establishing the Polar Academy and I'm happy to report everything is moving in the right direction. The reaction from schools, both from pupils and teaching staff, has really been quite overwhelming. I see so many 'invisible kids' who just go through the school system totally unnoticed. Their lack of confidence and self believe is never properly addressed as they never make a fuss. I've spoke to schools for over 10 years now and I often find that these kids are also victims of bullying - they are exactly the right kids to go on a Polar Expedition. Why? - the answer is simple, they have had to put up with years of grief and torment, their self esteem and confidence knocked daily. However, I have found that they also have the grit and determination to survive - because they've had to. It is these qualities which I look for in anyone who wishes to do an expedition. The kids who go on Polar Academy expeditions will therefore not be the sporting elite of society, they will be ordinary kids who, when given the opportunity to shine will inspire their peers, family and community to achieve anything in life.

It's all good.


National Library of Scotland Lecture

7 November 2013

Just back home after giving a lecture at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh. This is the first time I've spoke at this venue which was absolutely fantastic. Many thanks to Kenny Redpath and his team for looking after me so well and managing to fill the theatre with a great audience. I love speaking to the audience afterwards, mainly because you get to answer all the questions they are way too shy to ask during the lecture -

it's all good.

RSGS award me with the title 'Explorer in Residence'

13 October 2013

'Explorer in Residence'

A childhood dream came to fruition this week with the Royal Scottish Geographical Society awarding me the title of 'Explorer in Residence'. This is truly one of the greatest honours I have ever received in my life of exploration. This is the first time this title has been awarded by the RSGS in its 129 years of being in existence, making the title even more special. In all my expeditions, I have always had a strong educational element, tying in with schools across Scotland to improve their understanding of world geography as well as inspiring them to achieve their own aspirations one day. As Explorer in Residence, I will continue the pursuit of Polar exploration, world geography and scientific research. My own Polar Academy will of course be heavily involved with the RSGS, with all polar expeditions having a strong scientific element as well as inspiring all who are lucky enough to be involved. I cannot put into words just how proud I am to be Explorer in Residence and very much look forward to a long and positive partnership with the RSGS.


Polar Academy

Lots happening recently; however, the main news is that I've decided to concentrate full time on what I love to do - Expeditions and Speaking. Over the coming weeks, I will be setting up my 'Polar Academy', an initiative solely created to inspire and motivate young adults by the way of exploration. I'm currently in talks with potential supporters and I'm already overwhelmed by the positive reaction from all who hear my plans. Stand-by for exciting times ahead.

It's all good


The fantastic Corbie Inn and Health & Safety

A superb evening in the very packed Corbie Inn- the best real ale pub in Scotland. I gave a talk on both my North and South Pole expeditions which seemed to go down really well, plus we raised a wee bit of money for the new unit of Bo'ness Explorer Scouts. There were a lot of really good questions, most of them around a personal irritant of mine - how the interpretation of 'health & safety' rules is destroying the spirit of what being a kid and growing is all about. Of course it's extremely important to be safe with any kind of activity; however, from my experience it's more the fear of organisations running the risk of being sued that really stops them from doing anything, which of course is to the detriment of the kids. When I took a 16 year old to the North Pole, my number one concern, as on any expedition, was safety. I was able to demonstrate that with the correct training, team and attitude we could safely travel in what most people see as an extremely dangerous environment. When travelling over ice, sea or in the mountains I always feel safe; however, I can't say the same walking through the city center at night or in a meeting with H&S managers...

Take it easy, it's all good.