Hackney’s serial adventurer Dwayne Fields, the first black Briton to reach the North Pole, will tomorrow begin his latest journey in which he plans to roller-ski and walk 1,300km from the northernmost to the southernmost point of Great Britain.
The trip begins at Dunnet Head Lighthouse, 2 miles north of John O’Groats at the top of the Scottish mainland, and finishes at Lizard Point in Cornwall, the most southerly spot on the British mainland.
In 2010, Fields became the first black Briton in history to reach the South Pole, and was awarded The Freedom of the City of London by the Lord Mayor.
At the age of six, Jamaican-born Fields moved to London. Growing up on a Stoke Newington estate, Fields’ young adulthood was wrapped up in gang culture, and he soon became a victim of knife crime.
After staring down the barrel of a gun, Fields turned his life around; he rediscovered his love of adventure and began inspiring young people to explore the world around them.
Speaking to Eastlondonlines Fields said: “There is no doubt that living in Hackney had an impact on my career as an adventurer.”
“I knew I loved the outdoors and wanted to spend as much time outside as I could, but I didn’t have the courage to let everyone around me know that I eventually wanted to go on a wild adventure instead of working a 9-5, which was what was expected. I guess I wasn’t brave enough to go against the status quo.”
In the absence of a male role model, Fields admits that he takes “some responsibility” for realising his dream, and is now dedicated to helping others to achieve theirs.
Reflecting on his career thus far, Fields told Eastlondonlines that nothing compared to “the moment a young person achieves something they never thought they could, all because you’ve put things in place to help and support them”.
“This [provides a] different sense of pride”, he said, in comparison to things “like walking to the North Pole”. These achievements obviously “took a lot of resilience and self belief to make happen, but the actual act of ‘one foot in front of the other’ felt very natural to me”.
To young adults who are growing up in similar circumstances to Fields, he has this to say: “In the words of Henry Thoreau: ‘Go confidently in the direction of your dreams and live the life you imagined’. My attempts to fit in and be part of someone else’s idea of normal, left me feeling out of place and disheartened for much of my teens and early twenties and it was very much avoidable”.
Speaking to Emma Barnett on BBC Radio 5 Live earlier this week, Fields said: “I want these young people to see that it doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, and what you look like. If you set yourself a goal and you are resilient and show a little perseverance you will achieve it”.
In November 2020, Fields and fellow adventurer Phoebe Smith will undertake an unprecedent Antartica expedition.
The ‘Penguins to Pole’ expedition will see the pair walk from Beckner Island’s colony of emperor penguins to the South Pole; uniquely, the venture will be unsupported and unassisted.
The expedition hopes to raise awareness on the impact climate change is having on wildlife.