On Friday 30th June, fourteen students aged 14 to 18, from three Derbyshire schools within the Bolsover district – Frederick GentShirebrook Academy and Stubbin Wood – set off to South Africa on the adventure of a lifetime!

The students are all involved in I-Venture, a unique programme offering opportunities for young people, who might not otherwise have a chance to participate in these kind of life-changing experiences.

The team will spend 12 days under canvas (no hotels in sight) and travel (mostly on foot) to a variety of locations to undertake an international citizenship programme that will include delivering first aid training to a school and orphanage, carrying out a giraffe population study, and learning about other cultures and local conservation.

The students had initially applied and attended a team selection day and undertook a series of challenges back in February 2020, to earn a conditional offer on this intensive programme culminating in the expedition (originally planned for October 2021 but postponed due to COVID-19).

The students and their families were tasked with fundraising £2000 each for the expedition. At a time of uncertainty and restrictions in place due to COVID-19, the team could only meet online and had to come up with alternative ways of fundraising such as sponsored cycles and runs, online quizzes and so much more!  The team finally met in person in December 2021 at a bowling event and had their first residential in June 2022 at the Pinecones in Shirebrook.

Claire Bergmann, Projects Officer at Direct Education Business Partnership (DEBP) who co-ordinates I-Venture said, “It’s been a long-time coming and lots of hard work and resilience from all involved.  All the students going to South Africa thoroughly deserve their place and we look forward to hearing about their experiences when they return.”

Chris Woollard, Headteacher of Frederick Gent School added:

‘It has been a privilege to watch students from Frederick Gent School apply themselves with such dedication. Everyone who has worked on this project experienced the success of their application, the hard work of their fundraising, as well as the disappointment in the postponement of the trip itself. All of these experiences will now enhance their journey itself in the hope of helping to improve the life experiences of people and nature in another country. I am proud of the role that Frederick Gent School students and staff played in making this adventure possible’.

I-Venture is a true partnership effort between The Bolsover PartnershipBolsover District Council, DEBP Raising Aspirations Project, Africa Wild Trails, and the schools.  The expedition phase is expertly overseen and delivered by Africa Wild Trails, whose knowledge and commitment to South Africa will ensure an immersive and real experience is had by all.

Everyone across The Two Counties Trust wishes the I-venture the best of luck in their journey. It truly is the trip of a lifetime.