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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 May, 2005, 15:32 GMT 16:32 UK
Pole adventurer in academy call
Craig Mathieson at the South Pole
Craig Mathieson pictured at the South Pole
Scotland is being urged to establish a 'polar academy' to encourage young people to fulfil their ambitions.

The idea was put to MSPs by Craig Mathieson, the Scot who reached the South Pole in record time in December last year.

The adventurer offered to take parties of school children to the North Pole to boost their confidence.

Mr Mathieson believes they will come back as "unstoppable Scots" and will inspire others to achieve their goals.

Since he set a new record of 56 days to reach the South Pole in December last year, Mr Mathieson has been touring Scotland telling school children about his adventures.

Lack confidence

The 35-year-old, from Bo'ness in West Lothian, completed the 730-mile Antarctic expedition three days early.

He made most of the trek alone after his companion Fiona Taylor, 35, was forced to pull out with frostbite.

He told MSPs on Thursday that children have plenty of dreams but they often lack the confidence and ambition to turn them into reality.

Mr Mathieson is recommending a polar academy be set up for pupils who have a special need for confidence boosting.

Craig Mathieson
They'll come back little unstoppable Scots
Craig Mathieson
Polar explorer

He proposes that youngsters begin with a week in an outdoor centre in Scotland learning about polar exploration and then go on to spend a week in Greenland with the Inuit people.

Finally they would be flown to a point 30 miles from the North Pole and would ski under supervision to the most northerly point on Earth.

Speaking to BBC Scotland, he said: "I've been going to schools and asking pupils what they want to be, what jobs they would like to do - there are some fantastic dreams out there.

"But when I ask them if they think they will actually achieve those dreams, the answer is a resounding no.

"There is very little self-confidence and self-belief in children across Scotland at the moment."

When asked what he thought youngsters would gain from a trip to the North Pole, he added: "They'll come back little unstoppable Scots."

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29 Dec 04 |  Scotland
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30 Jan 04 |  Scotland

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