"SCHOOL was never exactly enjoyable," says Coltness Academy pupil Holly Stewart, adding that she tends to sit alone at lunchtime.

In spite of gaining five As in her Highers, she said: "I never felt I could do anything."

Holly's mum Jacqueline says: "When Craig described the person he was looking for for the Polar Academy, I thought, that's Holly. He talked about people who were invisible, reserved, didn't mix well, had no ambition. Even Holly said, that's me."

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Even so, Holly, who is 17 in September, was "amazed" when she was picked for the selection weekend and then for the final expedition.

Mathieson says: "Holly was a definite with every- one at the end of the selection weekend, because she thought she couldn't do anything, but her determination was incredible."

Holly is now looking forward to Greenland and feels more confident and ambitious, making plans to do zoology or marine biology at university.

She said: "Before, I didn't think anyone noticed me at all and I felt that because of that, I didn't really mean much or have to do anything in my life. But now I feel a huge sense of responsibility. I don't want to let anyone down. I don't want to let myself down most of all."