Ten aspiring explorers from unprivileged backgrounds to join Arctic expedition

Aspiring explorers from unprivileged backgrounds are to be given the opportunity to join a “life-changing” Arctic expedition to study the effects of climate change on the ocean.

Polar explorer Jim McNeill, from Princetown, Devon, who has been leading expeditions for more than 30 years, is selecting 10 people from inner-city areas across the UK to join the Ocean Warrior Project.

Departing in June, on board Europe’s largest three-masted wooden vessel, SV Linden, the #Resolute Expedition will embark on a 10,000 nautical mile voyage from Plymouth to High Arctic Canada to carry out research on the ocean.
McNeill, who grew up on a council estate in Barnet, North London, said he wants to encourage people “from all walks of life” to do something positive about climate change.

Jim McNeill is inviting 10 people from disadvantaged backgrounds to join him (PA Media)

He told the PA news agency: “I come from a very humble background and I always say if I can do it, anyone can do it, and someone gave me the chance when I was 16 to learn about the mountains and go climbing, so this is my way of giving back.
“We’ll hold a warrior selection, as we call it, which is a weekend where we make the time to look for nice people who wouldn’t really get the opportunity ordinarily to do something like this.

“They will come from all backgrounds, some may be unemployed, others on a gap year and some who are retired.

“It’s a fascinating process of developing them to be competent in these environments, then telling their stories, because it’s a fascinating thing to watch humans going through this, and engaging them in the biggest problem we’ve got, which is climate change.

“I’m not looking for any skills or previous experience whatsoever, because we will train them in everything that is necessary – this is a life-changing experience because the skills they will get are life skills.”

The 10, who will be picked before the end of February and personally funded by McNeill, will join experts and self-funded crew members on different legs of the journey.

They will be “intrinsically” involved during the expedition, carrying out evidence-gathering tasks and sailing the vessel.

McNeill went on: “It’s nothing like an adventure holiday or anything like that, it will be very difficult at times, it will be exhausting but incredibly rewarding when they see the coast of Greenland and Canada.

“It will be things like looking at Phytoplankton, which is a fantastic indicator of how the ocean is doing, little tiny organisms which are very affected by heat changes, salt changes, changes of density and so that’s definitely something we will be looking at.

“We will be looking for plastic pollution and anything and everything that’s practicable for us to do, we don’t pretend to be scientists but we’re orchestrated and directed by scientists.

“It’s extremely important for those who join us to listen and learn and engage in the biggest problem we’ve got.”

The initial leg of the trip, which will see SV Linden sail from the Svalbard Islands, between Norway and the North Pole, to Plymouth, will take place in June.

The first scientific section of the trip will depart from Plymouth to Iceland in July, and will be followed by legs to South Greenland, then on to West Greenland, Baffin Island, and to Resolute Bay, Canada, before the return journey.

The vessel is expected to arrive back in Plymouth on October 24.

To find out more information about Ocean Warrior Project, the #Resolute Expedition, its selection process, and how to join as a bursarial, self-funded or fundraised participant, visit https://www.warrior-ocean.com/ or https://www.ice-warrior.com/.