Oban students benefit from expedition fund on Arctic club’s 50th year 

SAMS student Tormod Doherty says the Arctic is amazing for skiing.

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Two students at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) have been helped by the Scottish Arctic Club’s expedition fund, as the organisation celebrates its 50th year.

The students, who are currently in Norway, study marine science and were given financial support to help with their Arctic adventure.

The Scottish Arctic Club’s expedition fund has been ongoing for 30 years and runs annually for students who are bound for the direction of the North Pole.

Scottish students, under 30, who decide to study in the Arctic are eligible for financial help from the expedition fund, which is given to a selected number of applicants each year. This year 14 students applied for grants.

Dunbeg-based SAMS, in partnership with the University of the Highlands and Islands, offers unique opportunities to study abroad, including the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS), Norway. SAMS specialises in marine science, making it the perfect place for students who have Arctic ambitions.

SAMS student Tormod Doherty.

Tormod Doherty, who took up both opportunities, says the lifestyle is extraordinary. ‘I have really fallen in love with the Arctic, there’s so much to do up here. I am a keen skier and mountaineer so this place is the best playground I could ask for.

‘I study on the Arctic island of Spitsbergen, which is part of the Svalbard archipelago. This is an amazing time to be living up here as I am witnessing the return of the sun after the first two months of my stay were in complete darkness.’

The expedition fund, which has been in place for 30 years, has helped Tormod, and several others like him, to live and study in places such as the incredible Svalbard. Money is raised for the fund by raffles, auctions and donations from club members.

Svalbard is typically an expensive place to live, making extra financial support invaluable, particularly to students.

Tormod explained: ‘The Scottish Arctic Club has really helped with financial support, as the cost of living up here is very expensive due to the importation costs, and nothing really grows this far north.’

Fellow SAMS student Ashton McDonald also benefited from the expedition grant, and is looking forward to being able to put the Arctic club’s funds to use. Ashton said: ‘The next few weeks we will finally be able to leave the town and go on excursions. I can’t wait to finally get to work.’

Sue Fenton, treasurer and secretary of the Scottish Arctic Club, explained: ‘Awards are made to young people for artistic endeavours, exploration, research or mountaineering in the Arctic.

‘Apart from Ashton and Tormod’s funding, awards were made to a Glasgow University expedition studying seabirds, a glacier traverse in south-west Greenland, a two-person fat bike trip this spring in western Greenland, and an artist-in-residence in north-west Greenland, among a number of other expeditions.’

Sue reflects the success of the fund, by reiterating the importance of educating and inspiring people about polar expeditions: ‘We do this to encourage a new generation of Arctic travellers.’