Dwayne Fields: 'I want the next Attenborough to be a black person'

First black Briton to reach North Pole urges inner-city youths to get out to the countryside

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The Independent Online

A man from Hackney who turned his life around after narrowly surviving a street shooting is set to become the first black Briton to walk to the South Pole.

Dwayne Fields will begin a 58-day, 1,150km trek to the most hostile environment on earth in November

He is already the first black British man to have reached the North Pole, and hopes his exploits will encourage more inner-city teenagers to explore the British countryside.

The 29-year-old's achievements stand out because the field of polar exploration is dominated by "middle-aged white guys. They're normally quite well-to-do people so I'm trying to break the mould," says Fields.

"Inner city people feel it's not for them, but it's because you don't see it. I want to say that you can do it. Even the ramblers, when I go out in Dartmoor, I see no young people and I've never actually seen a black person in the countryside."

Fields, who arrived in Britain from Jamaica at the age of six, says it's foolish for young people in the less well off areas of London to believe that "everyone's going to be a rapper or a musician," so he does talks in schools to suggest that there is more than one career choice.

"I want the next David Attenborough to be a black person," he says.

He now works part-time at a bank, but just over a decade ago Fields was stabbed in Tottenham. "The knife hit my belt, so it didn't go in as far as it could have done," he says cheerfully. And in 2004, he almost lost his life.  After scaring off a youth he suspected of stealing his brother's moped, the boy came back with a gun.

"He stood seven or eight feet away from me and pointed the gun straight at me. I said 'I don't think it needs to go that far'. He looked at me, and he looked sad, but really maddened. He pulled the trigger. I swore I saw the bullet come out, and I was sure it must have hit me. But as his friends pulled him away I realised it hadn't gone off. It was from that day that I decided to do something."

That something was an expedition to the North Pole, which he reached in 2010. But at three times the distance, and hauling a great deal more luggage, the South Pole is a much bigger ask.

Fields is aiming to raise £100,000 for the expedition: £60,000 to cover costs, and an additional £40,000 to split between Help for Heroes and the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust.