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Jessica goes wild for Durrell month-long sport challenge

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A JERSEY scientist has completed a 31-day challenge to raise money for the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and to encourage more people in Jersey to connect with the natural world.

Jessica Pinel rock climbing near Grosnez Castle. Picture: Patryk Kucza

Every day throughout July, Jessica Pinel (25) undertook an outdoor activity with a different sports-focused company or group across the Island and posted the highlights of each challenge online.

Her ‘Rewild the People’ campaign formed part of Durrell’s ‘Rewild Our World’ which aims to reconnect people with the outdoors and to restore damaged ecosystems around the globe.

From freediving to bush craft, Miss Pinel has tried a variety of experiences to show people that there are many outdoor activities to take part in across the Island – and in the process raised more than £1,100 for the trust.

Miss Pinel was joined by 419 people during her challenge.

‘It was absolutely incredible to see the smiles on the general public’s faces when they tried a sport for the first time,’ she said.

She added that conditions during the month ‘were surprisingly perfect for the project’.

However, blazing sunshine and low winds actually forced her to abort her kite-surfing challenge in favour of trying out some rowing.

Meanwhile, the open-water swimming challenge had to be rescheduled due to choppy waters on the day and is now due to take place at 10 am on Sunday 19 August at St Catherine’s slip. Miss Pinel is urging Islanders to take part in the swim.

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The campaign gave Miss Pinel the oportunity to try scuba diving – something which she had wanted to do since she was a young child. ‘This was definitely up there as one of the top ten best days of my life,’ she said. ‘I was lucky to see lots of wildlife including fish, sea slugs and jellyfish and to share the experience with the amazing ocean culture life team.’

Her challenges culminated in a competitive obstacle course last week during which she was joined by many of those who had been following her campaign throughout July.

Miss Pinel has continued to promote outdoor Island events since the end of her challenge and has said that she wants to work with Durrell and the Jersey National Park again in the future.

‘Ideally, I would eventually like to see health, wellbeing and the great outdoors as a compulsory part of education,’ she said. ‘Then there will no longer be a need for rewilding.’

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