Kiko Matthews

Kiko’s love for the environment started as a young child ‘forced’ to play in the garden as entertainment instead of a TV. She went on to study Molecular Biology at university and graduated in 2004 from Newcastle (UK) with a first-class honours.

After driving to Cape Town from UK with her friend and a team, to raise awareness of, and money for, spinal injuries, Kiko became a secondary science teacher with Biology as her major. She worked with the kids on the sustainability group and also got selected to go to Greece, with Earthwatch (.org), to study dolphins and their decline due to habit destruction.

During her time as a teacher, she became severely ill and nearly died of a pituitary tumour and disease called Cushings. She had a myriad of symptons affecting physical and mental aspects of her brain and body. After spending a month in hospital and some time in intensive care, she left to return to her teaching career. 18 months later, Kiko decided to leave teaching in a classroom and in search of some adventures and a passion. It was in Uganda on the Nile, where she stumbled across Standup paddleboarding. When she returned to the UK she wanted to use her skills as a teacher and passion for SUP and the environment, to give back and help others. She set up a charity and company, with the aim to empower with education and inspire through adventure.

Kiko believes that being outdoors and engaging with the environment is the way to help people understand and connect to it. To feel confident and happy in themselves, through being out in nature, using adventure and challenge to overcome problems and develop resilience. Also, to understand how everything is inter-connected and making people aware of what we are destroying. The belief that if you can be outside enjoying what the Earth has to offer, then you are more likely to help look after it.

After two years of running the Charity and business, she had a mad idea to solo row across the Atlantic. She had never rowed or been to see before and the aim was to break the record. However, mid-way through her training it became apparent that her tumour and illness had returned, 8 years after her previous operation. With the record attempt looking unlikely, Kiko was determined not to let this get in the way, and 6 months after brain surgery she set off from Gran Canarias, 3000miles across the Atlantic to Barbados.

49 days later, Kiko rowed into the record books taking 7 days off the female unsupported solo record. She raised over £100k for Kings College Hospital, critical unit, one of the best in the UK, and who saved her life in 2009 and again in 2017. Realising the importance of community, her love for the environment and her ability to inspire, Kiko is planning to cycle the coast of the UK, 7200km, facilitating and joining a community beach clean every day (76 total). The hope for this is to not only clean the plastic off the beach, but also to develop the community, a passion for the outdoors, an awareness of the plastic issue and also to educate on how the individual can really make a difference.

I am passionate about education, science and innovation and being on the Education Board of such an innovative project is hugely exciting. Finding engaging ways to connect people, young and old, combining this with the science on the boats and the surrounding environment of the boats, is the most important thing I believe we can offer individuals.

David Jones

David Jones is a conservationist, speaker, writer, underwater cameraman and ocean advocate. After a successful military career he retired to pursue business and environmental interests. He has worked in the area of ocean plastic pollution since 2009 when he joined The Plastic Oceans Foundation where he was chief adviser on education, science, sustainability and business issues.  He has spoken at many key events and academic institutions around the world and has covered a variety of subjects to do with ocean sustainability and plastic pollution. He is currently CEO of the UK charity Just One Ocean and is also a researcher at the University of Portsmouth investigating the impacts of microplastics in coastal environments. As well as two degrees in Business and Industry he also has an MSc is Coastal and Marine Resource Management and is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.