Dwayne Fields and Phoebe Smith set up the foundation

Dwayne Fields and Phoebe Smith set up the foundation

Two adventurers are offering young people the trip of a lifetime, to Antarctica.

Dwayne Fields and Phoebe Smith have raised enough funds to enable 10 underprivileged 16-18 year olds to join an expedition ship to the Antarctic in 2022.

The pair, who set up the #WeTwo Foundation to enable the venture, are now looking for nominations for young people to take part in the voyage.

The two adventurers kick-started their fundraising in November 2019 by undertaking an Antarctic-style expedition in the UK, walking the length of mainland Britain with wheeled sleds, for 40 nights, battling atrocious weather, giving up Christmas and wild camping the entire way to raise money for their #WeTwo Foundation.

The pair formed Team #WeTwo several years ago after meeting at Countryfile Live where they were asked to take part in a panel discussing barriers to getting into the outdoors and having adventures.

Mr Fields said: “We realised there that, for different reasons, we had similar experiences with people telling us how we couldn’t/shouldn’t/wouldn’t be able to it.

“We decided that if we teamed up, rather than continue to try to change things individually, we would have a much wider reach.”

Ms Smith said: “Since then we’ve been working hard to change the face of adventure together and, using the tool of adventure, encourage the next generation from all walks of life to fall in love with the outdoors and look after our planet.

“For us it’s not about planting flags, it’s about planting seeds.”

The pair have used crowdfunding and also attracted sponsors to finance the venture, even though they were told they should lower their sights.

They said: “Despite the pandemic, thanks to the generosity of those who have given to our crowdfunding cause, as well as the sponsors and partners who have come onboard, we have raised enough to change the lives of 10 young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“The aim is to use responsible adventuring as a force for good.”

Ms Smith said: “We’ve been told by several organisations that, considering our backgrounds, we should ‘know our place’, and been advised to take the young people to Dartmoor for a weekend, but that is missing the point.”

“To them Antarctica is a place beyond their wildest dreams,” said Mr Fields, “the ultimate stage for adventure and one that has, for the most part, been the domain of the privileged few – certainly not a place where people like them would ever be encouraged to aspire to go.

“We want to boost their confidence and show that we believe in them enough to take them somewhere they never thought they’d go. We want them to fall in love with nature and wilderness and understand the relationship between what we do here in the UK and how it affects Antarctica, and vice versa, so that they will fight to protect it.”

“Finally, we want them to see other career paths that they may never have considered before,” Ms Smith said. “Onboard will be biologists, ornithologists, geologists, mountain guides and people that they will never have had the confidence or opportunity to chat with before.”

WeTwo cold-weather training in Andorra. Photo: Phoebe Smith

WeTwo cold-weather training in Andorra. Photo: Phoebe Smith

The young people who are selected for the expedition will have to commit to ‘paying forward’, not in cash but by taking part in activities to improve their local area.

This will include rewilding projects; removing plastics from saplings; helping clean rivers, beaches and green spaces; they will also share with others, through talks and social media, the incredible nature and environment that’s on their doorstep, becoming local ambassadors for the environment.

The pair said the entire team with be planting enough trees to ensure that their trip to Antarctica will be 100 per cent carbon-neutral and, in time, carbon negative.

They said there are even more measures being taken to ensure it’s as green as can be.

“The ship we have secured places on is Hurtigruten’s MS Fridtjof Nansen, one of the world’s first hybrid expedition vessels, meaning the carbon footprint is the lowest it can be – 20 per cent less carbon is produced than in usual ships,” they said.

“They also have a heat recovery system so that waste heat from engine cooling water is used to keep everyone warm.

“We’ve also teamed up with Craghoppers who, as well as sponsoring four places on the trip, will be kitting out the entire team. They are committed to sustainability and are ensuring that all of the kit we use is made from recycled materials and is responsibly sourced.”

Once onboard the team will be assisting with a number of citizen science projects including seabird distribution with the Antarctic Site Inventory, tracking individual whales and leopard seals and studying phytoplankton to better understand how they respond to water temperature changes in the polar regions, providing a key to help mitigate future environmental impacts.

Ms Smith said: “Raising the money was challenging, especially during a pandemic, but perhaps even more challenging is going to be finding the young people to take with us. That’s why we’re appealing to the public to help us out.”

The adventurers during their sled-walk across Britain

The adventurers during their sled-walk across Britain

The team has launched a nomination form on their website where teachers, social workers, parents, guardians and friends from across Britain can nominate a young person from a disadvantaged background to take part.

“We are looking for people who are driven, passionate, and who want to make a difference, not just in their own lives but for the communities in which they live,” said Mr Fields.

They said two of the young people will definitely be Scouts. The Vasey Family Trust has donated enough to support two places so that the trip that Shackleton attempted to make, 100 years ago this year, in which he pledged to take two Scouts with him but sadly never completed, will finally be realised.

“We are so very grateful to all our supporters – it’s because of them we can make this ambitious plan come to fruition,” said Ms Smith. “We are determined that this inaugural trip to Antarctica, will be the first #WeTwo Foundation journey of many.”

Anyone wishing to nominate a young person can visit the Team WeTwo site and complete the pop-up form.

The two adventurers are also looking for further funding to provide even more places. Any potential sponsors can contact them via the website or donate on a justgiving page.

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