National Geographic Explorer, Adventurer and Television Presenter, Dr Niall McCann, joins BRIT
We are delighted that Niall has joined our BRIT Ambassador family.
Niall is a National Geographic Explorer focusing on anti-poaching and the illegal wildlife trade, with ongoing projects in Africa and Latin America. Niall is a seasoned explorer and adventurer who has rowed across the Atlantic Ocean, skied across Greenland and cycled over the Himalayas. He is also an award-winning wildlife TV presenter with shows on the BBC, PBS, Nat Geo Wild, Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel, most recently with a strong focus on human-wildlife conflict.
“As a former student at Cardiff University, and through my experiences as a biologist, explorer, adventurer and speaker, I am aware that the number of students and young adults struggling with mental health challenges has risen in recent years.
“On the 9th October 2020, Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Mental Health, Wellbeing and Welsh Language published a statement on behalf of the Welsh Government. In that statement, the Minister said;
“The pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on particular groups in society, particularly those on a low income, people with an existing mental health condition; children and young adults and people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities. There is no single response to these issues – they require multifaceted and multi-agency approaches, developed through collaboration across sectors, across government departs and across services. Preventing and supporting the mental health and wellbeing needs of the population is not something the NHS can – or should – do alone.”
The British Inspiration Trust (BRIT) Vision is to support young adult and student mental health throughout the UK. BRIT have evolved to become a collaborative charity and are striving to unite the charity, education and sport sectors through their BRIT Challenges. In Wales, BRIT have partnered or developed special relationships with Universities Wales (through Universities UK), ColegauCymru/Colleges Wales, Sport Wales, and many of our Welsh universities and colleges, to deliver an annual BRIT Challenge that is having a positive UK-wide impact on young adult mental health and fitness.
The BRIT 2021 Challenge is an inspiring feel-good fundraiser that is enabling students and young adults of all abilities to take part wherever they are (at home or on campus) and feel connected and part of a team. I hope every Welsh university, college and students’ union enters teams in the BRIT 2021 Challenge and encourages their students and staff to participate. Many of the best adventures happen close to home and this is a great opportunity for students and staff in Wales to explore the outdoors and add the distance they cover to their team’s 2,021 mile target.
I am delighted to be joining the BRIT Ambassador family to support and improve young adult mental health and hope fellow Explorers and Adventurers will join me as BRIT Ambassadors and champion the BRIT Challenge. Along with Olympians, Paralympians and sports personalities, together we can encourage our chosen universities and colleges to take on the BRIT 2021 Challenge and support the mental health and fitness of students and young adults throughout the UK.
I would be thrilled to encourage students and staff at Cardiff University as they complete their 2,021 miles and fundraising targets. I wish every student and staff member at Cardiff the very best of luck with their BRIT Challenge.”
Niall's grandfather won the Founder's Medal from the Royal Geographical Society in 1952 for Arctic exploration. Introduced to adventures from an early age, Niall has followed in his grandfather's footsteps.
Since the age of 18 Niall has undertaken challenging expeditions all over the world, including rowing the Atlantic Ocean, skiing across Greenland, cycling over the Himalayas & canoeing the Yukon River;
Ocean - In 2007, Niall and his friend James Burge rowed across the Atlantic Ocean, making the crossing in 63 days.
Polar - Niall has been on two major expeditions to the Arctic, including skiing across Greenland from East to West in 2009.
Mountain - Niall has been on multiple rock climbing, big-walling and mountaineering expeditions, and twice cycled over the Himalayas.
Jungle - Niall has spent well over two years on expeditions in remote jungle environments in Latin America, Asia and Africa.
Desert - Niall has spent many months working in sub-Saharan Africa, including 3 months living in the Namib Desert.
Tired of the seeming-futility of endangered species research, Niall decided to dedicate his career to stopping the destruction of our natural heritage. Since 2012 Niall has worked on the front line of conservation in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Niall has conducted remote-area biological research all over the world. Specialising in endangered species research, he graduated with a PhD in Conservation Biology from Cardiff University in 2015.
Niall is the Conservation Director for National Park Rescue, a direct-action conservation organisation protecting some of the most threatened national parks in Africa, and is co-Chair of the global EndPandemics Alliance.
Niall's adventures have been covered in the media for many years. He presented the award-winning documentary Lost in the Amazon, and two seasons of the multi award-winning Biggest and Baddest. He is also a dynamic motivational speaker with a diverse catalogue of achievements. To find out more about Niall, please visit his website.