Last night I was lucky enough to be invited to a fantastic evening at The Royal Geographical Society titled “An Evening of Endeavour II”. The event, organised with military precision by the Light Dragoons, brought together some of Britain’s most amazing adventurers and explorers. For someone who is about to set off on his own adventure it was a truly inspirational evening and an evening that 100% validated my decision to attempt the run from Vancouver to Buenos Aires.
The line-up was extemporary and included some of my personal favourites:
- Guy Disney – Afghanistan veteran, twice Polar Explorer, Light Dragoon
- Robin Hanbury-Tenison – One of the greatest explorers of the 20th and 21st centuries
- James Kayll – Afghanistan veteran, twice Ocean Rower, Light Dragoon
- Sean Conway – Adventurer extraordinaire, long distance swimmer
- Andy Torbet – Extreme diver, kayaker and mountaineer who transitioned from life as a bomb disposal paratrooper to being a television presenter
- Alastair Humphreys – Long Distance Explorer, Author, Motivational Speaker and inventor of Micro Adventures
- Ewen Cameron – A former Light Dragoon who recently rode over the Andes by horse and mule
Each and every one of the above talked eloquently and passionately about what they had achieved and why they had set off on their adventures. Four speakers stood out to me – and having to narrow it down to four was difficult!
I have long been a fan of Sean Conway and loved his recent swimming adventure that saw him swim from Lands’ End to John O’Groats. Being able to listen to him speak about the obstacles that he had to overcome and the sheer determination it took to complete his challenge was truly awesome. Sean has so much passion about what he does and that comes through in his frank and amusing speaking style that instantly made the audience fall in love with him. Standing on the stage with his wild red beard and Forrest Gump running hat, he entertained us with his stories of jelly fish, whirlpool, buying a yacht on ebay (while in the pub) and swimming in freezing conditions. What inspires me about Sean is that he comes up with an idea and then 100% sticks to his plan, not letting any adversity get in his way – this was a theme that ran throughout the night.
Alastair Humphreys is another adventurer that I have been following for quite a while now. You often see “adventurer” and “motivational speaker” written side by side and Alastair is a perfect example of that. His tales of his 3 year cycle round the world was filled with the same passion and excitement as his amble round the M25 or an evening camping trip. Alastair is a big believer in the micro adventure by which he encourages us to use our free time, no matter how short, to get out and experience life. He pushed the audience to use the 16 hours between 5 and 9 to its fullest and gave an example of leaving the office on a weekday, camping in the country and returning to work the next day. Alastair had a very simple message, we don’t all have to trek all over the world to be explorers and adventurers… we can do that at home over a few hours. A great message!
Robin Hanbury-Tension is exactly how you would picture a great explorer. He stood on the stage in his tweed suit and white hair regaling us with amazing adventures through South America, trips to Buckingham palace, being cut off from society and hover crafting through the amazon. His closing point struck a cord and made me think. While he applauded all adventurers for what they achieve he remarked that the real success of a great adventure or exploration is the legacy that it leaves.
The last speaker was Guy Disney, Light Dragoon who lost a leg in combat while in Afghanistan. He gave us a moving overview of his truly remarkable trip to the South Pole – “Walking With The Wounded expedition”. Anyone attempting to achieve what this team achieved would be regarded as an incredible achievement but to do it in their circumstances was truly inspiring. Guy gave a very frank account of the challenges they faced and sheer determination that led to their success. When the competition was abandoned a new story of comradery began. It was a lesson to us all that no matter what happens in life with determination and courage, everything is achievable.
This was one of the most enjoyable evenings I have had for some time. Whatever our inspirations we can all achieve them, it just takes the courage to put the plan into motion. Alastair made the valid point that while everyone is entitled to their opinions they remain that – THEIR opinions and we shouldn’t let them affect our plans.
Thank you to the Light Dragoons, the Royal Geographical Society and all the speakers.
The evening was for The LD Colonels Appeal – http://www.ldcolonelsappeal.com/