By Pippa Cole
Two St Mary’s College students will be jetting off to the Amazon Rainforest this June, having won the Npower Future Leaders Challenge.Sam Shuttleworth and Finlay Milner, who are both second-year Engineers, received the price alongside joint winners from the University of East Anglia and the University of Bristol.
Their trip to the Amazon will involve joining the Kaxinawá tribe in the jungle, living with the Huni Kui people in the Brazilian side of the rainforest, and installing renewable technology such as solar energy panels and a solar water pump.
They have also secured a summer internship with Npower as part of their prize.
The competition asked both students and employees to run a project promoting sustainability in their local communities, and asked them to film their progress for the final submission ahead of the final on the 4th of December.
Sam and Finlay travelled the North East publicising their campaign ‘Student Grub’, which aimed to encourage eating insects as part of a sustainable and healthy diet.
The campaign involved offering various treats, such as grasshopper kebabs and chocolate covered crickets, to members of the public.
To get their message across to their local community, they have visited Joseph Swan School in Gateshead, been promoting on campus in Durham, visited Npower’s office in Rainton, and appeared on BBC Radio North East.
Sam and Finlay described the schoolchildren’s reactions as “interesting”, and told Palatinate that the feedback they received was positive.
The competition reached its climax on the 4th of December, when competitors met at Regent House in Rainton for the final.
Prior to the announcement of the winner, a number of prominent figures from the energy industry spoke, including Darren Messem from the Carbon Trust, who gave an insight into sustainability and how reducing waste, water and carbon can help to ensure the future of our environment.
Lord Selborne, Chairman of the Science and Technology Committee in Parliament then announced the winners of the competition, and presented Sam and Finlay with their trophy.
When asked how they felt about winning, Sam and Finlay told Palatinate “we thought we were in with a good chance”, but that overall they were “pretty surprised to win”, given the strength of the other teams.
The other winning campaign from the University of East Anglia, called ‘Go with the Flow’, asked students at the university to urinate in the shower in order to save water.
The project attracted national press and the video that they produced to accompany the campaign quickly went viral.
Meanwhile, Bristol University’s team set up a pop-up swap shop to sell on used clothes, which has now become a permanent shop.
Sam and Finlay hope that “in later years, the campaign could provide an idea for setting up a business.”
For now though, they’re focusing on their studies as second-year Engineers.
Looking forward to their prize trip to the Amazon Rainforest, Finlay told Palatinate “I have never been to that part of the world and I think it’s going to be fantastic!”
Photograph: Venus Loi