The Thomas Arno Award

The highlight of my summer

In August 2021 eleven Haberdasher students went to explore a part of the very beautiful, wild and at times remote Scottish Highlands. They took part in a unique canoe and camping expedition, spending three nights in the wild. This is the story of their trip.

Up until spring 2021 we continued to have hope that the trip to South Africa could go ahead as planned. This is the annual trip organised by the Wilderness Foundation and funded by the Company. It gives a group of students from across all Haberdasher schools the chance to experience the wilderness of South Africa and take part in conservation activities. 

Due to the pandemic it sadly it became clear that an overseas trip was off the table. Rather than stand down the trip entirely, the Wilderness Foundation staff suggested an alternate option: Scotland.  

Eleven students out of the original group of fifteen chose to join the trip. Based at Glen Nevis, their trip was bookended with a night at the local youth hostel, with four days of canoeing across Loch Shiel. In their own words, here is their story.



  • Being part of such a lovely group with amazing leaders, whilst canoeing in a stunning area and with great food, there wasn’t much I didn’t enjoy.
  • The canoeing of the length of Loch Sheil over 3 days was something I will never forget and was my highlight of this summer so far.
  • The leaders were excellent. They were insightful and intelligent, as well as very easy to get along with. They treated us like adults and gave us responsibility. 
  • Being able to meet new people through the volunteering and conservation work we did, as well as the sense of accomplishment after climbing Ben Nevis. It was lovely to have so many compliments whilst litter picking at Ben Nevis.
  • Knowing that we had made an actual, and noticeable difference, was an important part of the trip for me.
  • The trip gave me a newfound appreciation for Scotland and the importance of protecting and rewilding rural areas.
  • The trip has made me more aware of the Leave No Trace principles, and of the importance of protecting wilderness.
  • I would say that I am now more aware of my surroundings in an environmental way and have also learned that taking time out (rather than being the usual go go go person I normally am) and having a bit of inward reflection a really useful and important thing. 
  • There are so few real wild places left in the UK that more people need to realise the importance of keeping these places wild.
  • We need to protect our wilderness: both for future humans to be able to enjoy the wilderness as we did, but also for its own sake, to ensure that the wild remains wild as it naturally should.
  • We need to protect our wilderness: because it’s amazing and as a species we have been pretty brutal towards it so we now have a moral obligation to protect what is left. 
  • And from a parent: When my son came back he had clearly been lit up by the whole experience. The fact that he wanted to go back up to Scotland and spent a lot of time outside in the following days showed how much he enjoyed it. He has always been very self-aware but I think the trip has encouraged this further Thank you all for the great time he had! 


Though an overseas trip in 2022 remains uncertain, the option of funding an expedition to Scotland would clearly be of benefit to our students. 

Thanks to Freeman Clemmie Broom for her contribution to the interviewing process for this programme. 

Read more about this trip on the Wilderness Fouondation website, here: