Young girl speaks out about her life-changing trip to the Arctic with other pupils from Bathgate Academy
A 15-YEAR-OLD girl has spoken about the extraordinary trip she embarked on with her peers to the Arctic.
Alex Cochrane and nine other pupils from Bathgate Academy now have incredible stories to share with friends after spending two weeks exploring the wilderness of Greenland with adventurer Craig Matheison.
The lucky pupils were chosen from a group of about 300 youngsters to take part in this trip of a lifetime.
Alex described the trip as “extraordinary”, “magical” and “surreal.”
She said: “The scenery in Greenland was jaw-droppingly beautiful. We skied up to a huge ice cave and when camping one night we watched the Northern Lights over us.”
They spent nine months in locations around Scotland doing intense training sessions to prepare them for the Arctic which they took on in April this year.
“The whole experience of being part of The Polar Academy has massively boosted my self-confidence and self-esteem.
"I previously found it quite hard to talk to people I didn’t know, but working for months as part of a close-knit team has shown me I can do things I previously thought impossible.
The pupils had to ski their way through the expedition pulling a 45 kg sledge behind them, set up camp and cook food themselves come rain or shine.
Craig, by his own admission, chose children he calls “the invisibles”; neither the high achievers nor the disputers, but those who often pass through school without the opportunity to really shine.
“They all did an absolutely amazing job,” he said, “every single one of them just shon, and that’s what this expedition was all about, it’s about finding that determination in these kids that think they don’t have it, and bringing it to the forefront.”
The journey of the pupils from their training right through to the expedition will be showing on BBC Scotland in a four-part series starting on Wednesday 8pm until 8.30pm.
A PARENT has said how “life changing” the Bathgate Academy trip to Greenland was for her daughter.
Alex Cochrane’s mother Fiona said: “Alex is a different girl.
“With every month, we saw her confidence grow. She has found herself in situations in training or in Greenland where it was up to her to overcome the different challenges that are all part of the experience and she has excelled.
"That inner self confidence has also made her happier and more comfortable engaging with others and taking on public talks that she would never have been comfortable doing before.”
She praised the Polar Academy for its achievement in inspiring youngsters.
She said: “I have only the highest regard for the work of Craig Mathieson, his team and the growing number of individuals and businesses getting behind the charity. I’ve seen for myself how it positively impacts on young people like my own daughter.
"It also has a wonderful effect on the whole family as we all felt as though we were a part of Alex’s journey.Quite simply, if given the chance you should do it.”