‘Resilience is created through adversity’, says Phil Quirk, the leader of an Arctic expedition, as the group head off for training.
Twelve islanders are intending to raise £50,000 altogether, for local charity Isle Listen by completing a 110km hike in Arctic Sweden.
The expedition, which takes place over seven days in March, and training camp, which is taking place this week, is organised by Omnia Mind, a resilience training consultancy in the island.
Phil Quirk, the chief executive officer of Omnia Mind and leader of the expedition, is from the island, and was in the Royal Air Force before setting Omnia Mind up last year.
Phil explained how the idea for the expedition came about: ‘So every year, myself and Matt Larsson-Clifford, an outdoors coach who lives in Sweden, and who was in the RAF with me, work with UK International Search Rescue. They are a specialist fire brigade, who are at the very top of their game.
‘We provide their cold-weather training every other year. Matt does all of the technical stuff, or the survival stuff, how to live in that environment and I do the mindset, the resilience stuff and we bring it together into one package.
‘We were on that last year, and we said wouldn’t it be great to do something that was a new model of how you can do expeditions for charity but also make a viable and sustainable business model out of it.’
‘However, the real goal of Exhibition Limitless is to demonstrate how resilient people are when they’re given the right training and the right support.
‘So we want to create a revolution of resilience where we start to undo the world of comfort that we’ve got and actually say to people, if you’re prepared to be uncomfortable for a little bit, you change your level of what you perceive you can and can’t do. Your resilience goes up, your mindset goes up.
‘So we want to bring 12 people back from the Arctic that will have a completely different perspective on what they can individually and collectively achieve.’
Each participant is funded either by their employer, or a proxy sponsor, which pays for the flights and accommodation.
The individuals pay for their own kit, and all of the money raised goes to Isle Listen.
Phil said: ‘There were two criteria that we wanted.
‘The first one was that we didn’t want to disadvantage people that couldn’t afford to go on the expedition who could get the most benefit, so we were wrestling with how do we circumnavigate that problem to begin with, and the next one was that we wanted all of the money to go to charity.’
He added: ‘I think the wonderful thing about the Isle of Man, when you have an island that has a certain amount of self-governance, you can affect change and you can do things differently.
‘We can be very dynamic, we should be able to say, let’s lead, and let’s see what we can do.
‘I think we have gone past the awareness stage of mental health and we’re more at the stage of what can we do.
‘One of the things we can do differently is supporting people so they can be resilient, the unfortunate truth about that is the best way to become resilient is just to embrace adversity.
‘That’s another conversation where our young people perhaps have lived a life of too much comfort, and we need to unpick that and say, let’s create adversity, under conditions with support and education.
‘There are already people doing amazing things with schools in and around that subject, so we are already I think leading the way.’
Sian Coleman, who runs her own Wellness studio, will be embarking on the expedition.
She said: ‘I love stepping out of my comfort zone, like what Phil was saying. I know resilience is not built in comfortable places, so I always like to seek out those opportunities.’
She added: ‘I’m feeling really excited, but definitely a bit apprehensive, which isn’t usually like me.
‘I think it’s being in a group of people that I don’t really know so well, going to a location that I’ve never been, doing something that I’ve never done, and also just being in a really cold temperature that I’ve never experienced.’
Martin Hall, a business-leader and podcaster, who will also be on the expedition said: ‘I just think when you look at businesses in the Isle of Man, the opportunities to support locals, whether it’s individuals within their business or an impact on someone on the Isle of Man, is such a powerful statement to make.
‘That’s kind of what I suppose inspired me to go. I’d like to be part of this and I’d like to think I could play a tiny small part in getting people to believe this concept of resilience-building works.’
In the training, the expedition leaders will cut a hole in the ice, and every participant will jump into the ice water.
He added: ‘I am most nervous to go into the ice water.’
Following the training, there will be a series of fundraising events for Isle Listen ahead of the expedition in March.