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Polar explorer takes Dundee children on a journey of Discovery

4 March 2014

Intrepid polar explorer Craig Mathieson will speak to primary school pupils in Dundee on Tuesday (March 4) from the ship of the very man who inspired him to lead Scotland’s first expedition to the South Pole.

As Explorer-in-Residence at the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, Craig has been invited to give this inspiring talk by the Dundee Academy of Sport – an initiative launched by Abertay University and Dundee & Angus College in January 2014.

Children from Ballumbie, Ardler, Craigowl and Sidlaw View Primary Schools will have their imaginations stretched to the limit as they gather on Captain Scott’s RSS Discovery to hear Craig read extracts from the diary he kept during his polar expedition.

They will also get the chance to try on the kit he wore on his expedition, as well as the older style of clothing that would have been worn by Captain Scott and his team.

It is hoped that hearing Craig speak about his polar expedition from the ship that took Captain Scott to the very same place, will inspire the children to think that they too, could one day achieve great things.

Speaking ahead of the event, Shelley Booth – Project Officer at the Dundee Academy of Sport – said:

“This is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate the cross-curricular work of the Dundee Academy of Sport, where we use sport as a context for learning.

“On Tuesday, we’ll be linking sport – polar exploration in this particular case - to subjects like geography and history, as Craig will be speaking about his own expedition to the South Pole and that of Captain Scott as well.

“He’ll also speak about the lives and culture of the Inuit who live in the areas he’s been to, and about the animals he encountered in these cold conditions as well. So there’ll be plenty to stimulate the children’s imaginations.

“The day will have an overarching theme of Health and Wellbeing, which perfectly complements the new Curriculum for Excellence. I hope the messages and values that underpin Craig’s story will motivate and inspire these young people to follow their dreams and show real dedication and commitment to whatever they set their sights on achieving.

“By facilitating work like this, we feel that the Dundee Academy of Sport can enrich learning and add real value to the excellent work already being carried out by school teachers across Dundee to bring classroom-based learning to life.”

With many years’ experience in the military and as a mountaineer, Craig undertook his trek to the South Pole in 2004, hauling his 200lb sledge across the Antarctic continent and completing the 730 mile trip from the coast to the Pole in just 56 days – three days earlier than expected.

He then achieved another amazing feat in 2006, when he led an expedition to the Geographical North Pole that included in its team a previously inexperienced 16 year old school boy. This demonstrated that, with the right amount of training and determination, anyone can achieve whatever goal they set themselves.

An accountant by trade, Craig has spent the past 10 years spreading this message far and wide and, last year, set up the Polar Academy – an initiative he founded to inspire and motivate young people to challenge themselves and achieve great things by taking part in polar expeditions.

Speaking about his work and why he does it, Craig Mathieson said:

“My philosophy is that any goal is achievable as long as you have the correct attitude.

“I see so many ‘invisible kids’ who just go through the school system totally unnoticed. Lots of them are from very disadvantaged backgrounds, and their lack of confidence and self-belief is never properly addressed, as they never make a fuss, and they just don’t realise that they have it in them to achieve great things.

“I decided at the age of 12 that I was going to go to the South Pole, because that’s when I first heard about Captain Scott. If it hadn’t been for my headteacher lending me a book about Scott’s adventures, I might never have known about the types of adventures that it’s possible to have.

“So I just hope that hearing my story and finding out about all the amazing things that are possible in the world outside what they are faced with on a day-to-day basis, will inspire these children to broaden their horizons, challenge themselves and realise their goals - whatever these might be.”

In 2012, Craig was appointed Special Advisor in polar training to HM Forces and, in addition to his role as Explorer-in-Residence for the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, now runs his Polar Academy full-time.


The children from Craigowl and Sidlaw View Primary Schools will be attending the event on Wednesday, March 5.

For media enquiries please contact Kirsty Cameron T: 01382 308935 M: 07972172158 E:

Notes to Editors:

The Dundee Academy of Sport was launched in January 2014 by Abertay University and Dundee & Angus College.

The Academy intends to be Tayside’s leading provider of sports education and research, and aims to widen and increase school attainment levels by using sport as a means of engaging young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in their education.

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