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Adventurous university alliance with polar explorer honoured alongside big brand names

News | 22 April, 2021

Cardiff Metropolitan University


Cardiff Met has earned national recognition in the recent UK Sponsorship Awards for its work with extreme adventurer and former Wales International rugby player, Richard Parks.

The university was highly commended in the Education and Learning Sponsorship category for its One Cardiff Met alliance with Richard Parks in the lead up to his British record-breaking solo expedition to Antarctica in January 2020.

The university’s entry was beaten in its category by Aldi’s ‘Get Set to Eat Fresh with Aldi and Team GB’ which has reached 1.6 million young people in the UK and is being used in the lead up to the Paris 2024 Summer Olympic Games.

Other winners on the night include household names such as Channel 4, DHL and Specsavers.
Cardiff Met’s entry explained to the judges how the institution sought to replace several localised partnerships with a more meaningful ‘One Cardiff Met’ sponsorship.

The first sponsorship of this kind was launched in 2018 with a three-year partnership with extreme athlete, Richard Parks, in an expedition to ski solo, unsupported and unassisted from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole.

Richard worked closely with staff and students from across all five Cardiff Met schools in the 12 months leading up to his first expedition in December 2018 and his second attempt in December 2019. Highlights of this work include:

  • Students produced individual design concepts for Richard’s expedition sled, eventually selecting a final design and carrying out an extensive process of design development, which included wind tunnel testing.
  • A wellbeing app for young people was developed and launched in 2019. The ‘iValue U’ Wellbeing App is available to download from the Apple App Store and was developed by Welsh primary pupils.
  • Students engaged with Richard by supporting the launch event of his expedition by preparing and serving drinks and canapés.
  • The ZerotoFive Food Industry Centre worked closely with Richard and students from the School to devise a food plan which met his nutritional needs throughout the expeditions.
  • Cardiff School of Technologies’ robot Nao accompanied Richard to Antarctica on his first attempt.

On 15 January 2020, Richard Parks conquered the southernmost continent of the globe – Antarctica – claiming two world records and a new British record. He battled extreme weather and dwindling supplies across 1150km (715 miles) of some of the most inhospitable terrain on the planet.

Richard achieved this in under a month - 28 days, 21 hours and 59 minutes, beating his previous record of 29 days, 19 hours and 24 minutes - solo, unassisted and unsupported on skis, thanks to innovations our students had painstakingly developed with him.

Richard Parks said: "Innovation and growth often come during our greatest challenges. Putting students at the core of a solo and unsupported speed expedition to the South Pole was ambitious. When the time called, we had very little margin for error as I was entrusting my life in the outputs of the project and also, the students and staff had to place their trust in me.

"The excellence, agility and compassion of the Cardiff Met staff enabled the students to fully embrace the real life, real time demands asked of them. It was inspirational seeing the students grow and deliver throughout the collaboration. Ideas need courageous people to say yes! It's awesome that Cardiff Met has been recognised by UK Sponsorship Awards."

Deputy Director of Marketing and External Relations, Ben Hughes commented: "We are delighted to have been highly commended in the Education and Learning Sponsorship category in the UK Sponsorship Awards for the incredible work that has taken place between Richard Parks and our students and staff.

"Richard’s polar expedition presented us with a wealth of unique opportunities to galvanise our One Cardiff Met mindset. We were able to bring together a wide range of skills to help Richard solve complex problems and devote his absolute best to his record-breaking quest."