Iona Somerville is a 20-year-old from Edinburgh. She studied at Gracemount High School and has recently completed her HND Sports Therapy course at Edinburgh College. Iona is now part of a unique team of five, including paralympian, gold medalist and adventurer Karen Darke. The teams expedition will create a new pole in Antartica in January 2022, called the Pole of Possibility.

Iona’s journey started when she was studying at Gracemount High School in Edinburgh, Scotland. She was shy, not confident in herself, didn’t believe she could achieve anything, and felt invisible in school. Iona’s guidance teacher selected her to attend a meeting hosted by Craig Mathieson, founder of The Polar Academy, in April 2014.

The Polar Academy identifies ‘invisible’ 14-17 years old secondary school children, crushed by a lack of self-esteem and gives them the chance to redefine their physical and mental limits. Participants are put through a rigorous ten-month training programme before being immersed in the wilds of Greenland, navigating through some of the world’s remotest terrain for ten days. On the return to Scotland, each pupil shares their experiences with their peer groups, speaking to more than 20,000 school children in their region.

From this meeting and selection weekend, Iona was selected to join the expedition team for The Polar Academy. In 2016 Iona and the team completed the expedition in Greenland. This experience changed not only Iona’s life but her families too. Through exploration she achieved something that the majority of her peers had never experienced, she wanted to  use her story to inspire others. That if a normal 14-year-old girl shy girl can complete an expedition in Greenland, anyone can achieve anything if they put their mind to it and push past their limits.

On 22nd May 2017, Iona attended the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, United Kingdom. At the end of the concert there was a terrorist attack where a bomb went off, killing 22 people and injuring hundreds of others. Iona suffered psychological as a result of this incident.  However the mental resilience and experience gained from The Polar Academy helped her get through this trauma and made her look at the future.

Iona is now part of a unique team of five, including Karen Darke MBE (founder of Quest 79 & Pole of Possibility) that will create a new pole in Antartica in January 2022. The Pole of Possibility. The team will ski and haul sleds from the Antarctic adventure base at the Union Glacier to 79 degrees latitude and longitude. The Pole of Possibility is in partnership with The Polar Academy, embodying the value of inspiration through exploration. To find our more about this expedition please go to https://www.quest79.com/the-pole-of-possibility/.