Inspirational Midhurst Rother College student Erin is off to the North Pole

Erin finds out her amazing results with mum Nicola Purdy, brother Ethan and headteacher Stuart Edwards  PICTURE BY JANET GIBBS
Erin finds out her amazing results with mum Nicola Purdy, brother Ethan and headteacher Stuart Edwards PICTURE BY JANET GIBBS

Inspirational Midhurst Rother College head girl Erin Collins is celebrating not only a stunning set of A level results, but also news that she has been selected for a ground breaking expedition to the North Pole next year.

These are amazing achievements for any 18 year old, but all the more astounding as Erin underwent major surgery to have a stoma fitted just eight weeks before her first exam - the latest of nearly 30 operations she has undergone since she was born with the rare bowel condition, Hirschsprung’s disease.

She gained an A* grade in English Literature, B in geography and A in Latin.

Originally opting to study English Literature at Durham University she has changed her mind since gaining a place on the Ice Warrior Arctic Pole of Inaccessibility expedition.

She will now be studying for a degree in geography and will be leaving her Durham studies next February for a year to join the ground breaking trip to the edge of the world.

She is one of the youngest of a 28 strong team selected to take part in the Ice Warrior expedition to the Pole of Inaccessibility, the most remote point of the Arctic, never reached before and on the way they will be collecting climate data.

“This is a rare opportunity,” said Erin, “the team is made up of people from all walks of life, but the point is we will all be amateurs. I have spoken to my doctor and have been told I can do this. The whole point of my going is to inspire other young people and show you can do anything you want. There is not much support out there for young people with a stoma and I want to change that. Nothing is ever going to stop me doing what I want to do.”

Erin has had 28 operations in her 18 years and was in hospital for four months during her year 8 studies at Midhurst Rother College.

For the last two years she had been on morphine to ease the pain and had been in and out of hospital: “I needed the stoma operation,” said Erin, “and I went in to St Richards at the end of April for a month coming out at the end of May. My first A level exam for a month later.”

Following on from her exam success Erin now has the daunting task of raising £20,000 for the expedition in the next six months.

£12,000 of it will be her contribution to the cost of the expedition and in addition she must raise another £8,000 for her specialised kit and other expenses.

She has set up a justgiving page and will also be approaching local businesses in the hope of gaining corporate sponsorship. She will also be returning to Midhurst Rother College next month before she leaves for Durham to talk about the expedition.

Her mother Nicola Purdy and brother Ethan were with her when she picked up her results on Thursday: “I can’t put into words how enormously proud I am of her,” she said, “her whole life has been difficult, right from the start, but you would never know it - she never stops smiling. She is my inspiration.”

MRC headteacher Stuart Edwards told the Observer: “Erin is a fabulous student and a brilliant ambassador for this school.”

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