Five wildlife and media students from the University of Cumbria are setting off on the expedition of a lifetime on Tuesday 1 May.
After months of meticulous planning, Paul Mitchell, Daniel Sencier, Ashley Howe, Robert Brumfitt and Ryan Deal will leave on the 2,400-mile trip to the Carpathian Mountains in Romania to make a wildlife documentary.
Paul (34), from Carlisle, explains: “We all need to do an expedition as part of our course and we hatched this idea to travel to Romania some time ago.
“We are going to make a documentary for the Transylvanian Wildlife Project, a team of dedicated conservationists who are committed to preserving one of the last true wilderness areas of Europe and protecting the wildlife in the virgin forests of the eastern Carpathian Mountains.”
“They have kindly offered us accommodation while we complete the filming, as well as the services of an experienced tracker. There are lynx, brown bear, wolf, deer and wild boar in the forests, so the tracker’s expertise will be extremely useful if we are to make the most of our time there.”
The students have partially funded the expedition themselves, but are extremely grateful for donations from a number of individual sponsors. As well as help from the University of Cumbria and the Prostate Cancer Charity, the trip has really been made possible by the offer of a Land Rover Discovery by Richard Hopkins, of Scrapheap Challenge fame, who runs a 4×4 driving school in Chepstow, South Wales.
The aim of the trip is not merely to hone their media techniques however. The group also hope to raise funds for prostate cancer charities and raise awareness of the importance of identifying it at an early stage. One of the group, Daniel Sencier (60) from Penrith, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in June 2010, just before beginning his degree course. He says:
“After I was diagnosed I wasn’t sure whether to start my studies or not – but I’m so glad I did. Even though I had to have surgery and eight weeks off, I still successfully completed my first year. The support I received from everyone – family, friends, lecturers and fellow students – was phenomenal and I feel much more optimistic about the future now.”
“We’re all really looking forward to the trip. It’s going to be an epic adventure and I’m sure we’ll all gain from it. Having the opportunity to raise the profile of two causes close to my heart, wildlife conservation and the early detection of prostate cancer, is really the icing on the cake.”
Senior lecturer Fiona Stoddart will be there to see them off and comments: “The students have been planning this expedition since the first year of their course. They have put a great deal of time and effort into creating expedition partnerships which will offer them different wildlife filming and community-based opportunities.
“I’m very much looking forward to seeing their film and photographic work when they return and also hearing their stories. Whilst there is a serious side to the trip they have planned, I think they will have a lot of fun as well.”
Anyone wishing to donate can do so via a link on Daniel’s blog at www.danielsencier.blogspot.com where the team will also be posting their news as the expedition progresses.