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Alex secures dream Australian trip thanks to Travel Award success

Alex Hartemink, the 2023-2024 Albert Johnston Travel Award winner

Sixth Form student Alex Hartemink was “ecstatic” after being chosen as the winner of this year’s Albert Johnston Travel Award.

Her presentation ‘Deep Down Under: The Effect Of Climate Change On Marine Ecosystems’ thoroughly impressed the judging panel who praised the planning that went into the application and the obvious enthusiasm she had for the project.

Alex, who went on the Biology expedition to Honduras during the summer and will now head to Australia, has contacted the University of Queensland and has volunteered to work alongside their PhD students at the Marine Biology Station on Heron Island to chart the bleaching on the surrounding coral reefs and to monitor the effects of thermal stress on manta ray migration.

Students on the Biology trip to Honduras pose for a photo before going on a trek

The keen snorkeler, who qualified as a PADI diver at 12 years of age, is applying for medicine at university and has arranged to visit Professor Warrick Bruce of the Sydney Orthosports Medical Clinic where she will compare the Australian medical system and model of healthcare delivery to the UK’s NHS.

Students on the Biology trip to Honduras enjoyed spending time at Chepa's Beach

Speaking about her success, Alex said: “I was ecstatic when I found out I had won the Albert Johnston award to go to Australia as it had been a dream of mine to see one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Great Barrier Reef. I am so grateful for the opportunity to experience the natural and cultural beauty in the pursuit of my interest in marine conservation and cultural exploration in the Aboriginal Red centre areas.

“I was excited to meet the panel and express my passion for natural exploration and individual travel to scuba dive and surf whilst learning from researchers the details of such a beautiful country. Observing the work researchers do on coral gardening, turtle nesting and manta ray migration tracking will be so rewarding to see for myself and I am forever grateful for such a unique opportunity.”

This year’s judging panel was Old Stopfordian Oliver Hopwood (OS 2003), Head of Sixth Form David Stone, SGS Archivist Stuart Helm (OS 1964), Bursar Joanne Clague, former Governor Chris Muscutt and Award organiser and Psychology Teacher Hannah Larkin.

Reflecting on the panel’s decision, Mrs Larkin said: “Alex did a fantastic job planning and presenting her proposed trip to the panel. Her enthusiasm for diving and her interest in the fragile ecosystem of the Great Barrier Reef was apparent.

“Again, the standard of applications was incredibly high and every student did an amazing job and impressed the panel. I would like to thank the panel for coming in and making the difficult decision.”