STANWELL School were delighted to welcome former pupil Emily Penn who gave an inspirational talk to Year 12 on environmental issues and the unusual turn her life took after leaving school which saw her travelling the world.

Emily left sixth form in 2005 to study architecture at the University of Cambridge but her life took a very different course after graduating.

Emily had decided to travel to China without flying to research her dissertation when she was offered a job in Australia. She saw this as an opportunity to good to miss and again decided to travel aeroplane-free.

Emily caught a ride on the record-breaking Earthrace, a powerboat run on biofuel.

During this voyage she became aware of the degrading state of the oceans and the impact pollution is having on islands in the South Pacific.

As Operations Manager Emily spent a year running the onboard campaign to promote the use of alternative fuels. Sailing 25,000 miles, presenting to schools, engaging politicians and connecting with the public in 120 cities around the world.

During her talk to the Stanwell students she made them aware of the problems caused by the quantity of non-biodegradable plastics spread across the ocean. She also spoke with passion on the educational programme she has implemented motivating people in affected island communities.

Emily organised one of the largest clean-up campaigns ever instigated in the islands of Tonga, motivating 3000 people (nearly 70 per cent of the total population) to collect 56 tonnes of rubbish in a single day.

she plans to establish a sustainable, zero-waste system in a line of islands in the South Pacific through her organisation Pangaea.

Aged 23, Emily also became the first woman to earn the title of Yachtmaster of the Year, awarded by HRH Princess Royal in recognition of Emily's skills and expertise as a skipper.

With a background in architecture Emily has a passion for art and has many sketches and paintings from her travels which she is planning to show in exhibitions.

Emily gave a fascinating and inspirational talk to Year 12, which not only raised their awareness of environmental issues, but also showed them what an unusual and unexpected course your life can take.