Toby Phelps, Llanteg, Wales, UK

Tobias (Toby) Phelps is a 20-year-old university student in his second year of a Zoology degree at Exeter University, England. His passion for wildlife — birds in particular — drives much of his extracurricular and academic activities.  In his academic studies, Toby would like to complete a Masters and possibly a PhD on the study of seabirds. Outside of school, Toby was the youngest birder ever invited to be a keynote speaker at the Pembrokeshire (Wales) Bird Conference, and he has carried this passion through to community service, volunteering at International Wildlife Consultants LTD, a falcon breeding program. As part of his award program as recipient of the prestigious Duke of Edinburgh award, Toby did a four-day residential course at the Skokholm Island Bird Observatory, where he monitored young seabirds.

A dedicated student, Toby obtained an A+ on this Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Core Certificate while taking advanced biology, chemistry, and geography. A tennis player and coach, Toby has also exercised his passion for the outdoors through surfing and kayaking.   As a volunteer for the Wave Project in the County Of Cornwall, Toby participates in a group funded by the National Health Service (NHS) to provide surfing lessons to young people with mental health issues. Of this experience, Toby said, “I felt very privileged to work with these young people to see them developing their surfing skills and helping them feel more confident, improving their outlook on life and giving them a sense of fun. The participants were young people who other services had been unable to reach. The evaluation of the project has shown that this experience has helped them to feel more accepted, positive and comfortable with their lives.”

One of Toby’s teachers who has known him since the age of 11 said that “even as a young boy, he stood out in his class as mature and reliable.”

Toby credits his family and his metabolic team with helping him keep a positive outlook: ” As I am becoming more independent there are times when I find it difficult as I cannot be spontaneous like my friends, particularly when it comes to eating out and travelling. Having said that, being at university has opened my eyes and I have met many people with medical conditions far more challenging than PKU. This helps me to simply count my blessings, stay positive and just get on with it. “