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Championing British Exploring Society’s Leaders – By James Dyer

Jun 19

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19 June 2018 15:41  RssIcon

James Dyer, Les Morgan Leader of the Year Award 2017 winner

In early March this year British Exploring Society’s CEO, Honor, approached me to “have a word”! Firstly I thought I was in trouble and was in the process of racking my brain to find what it was I had done, when it transpired she had some good news…. phew!



A few months earlier I had been included on the nominations for the 2018 Les Morgan Leader of the Year Award, and Honor was about to inform me that I was the Winner! What Great news. I didn’t quite know what to say initially.

It was the second time I had been nominated so I had convinced myself that I was forever to be the bridesmaid, and not the bride. Hearing that I had won was great, but the hardest part was having to record my acceptance speech and thank you’s, as I wasn’t going to be at the Award ceremony due to being off leading a mountaineering trip in Morocco.

Not being the most technically minded person I managed to pull together something to display in the 3 minute slot I had been given, not realising quite how big the screen was going to be until someone sent me a film of the showing.

So what does winning this award mean?

Initially it was a bit embarrassing, particularly winning from a group of nominees as strong as the shortlist was, but in the outdoor and expedition world there aren’t a large number of awards that recognise leadership, so I realised that winning was actually something special. It is great that British Exploring Society and Les Morgan’s Family continue to support this important award.

Educational expeditions differ from other types of expeditions, they have a strong educational and developmental approach, focussed on learning and developing the participants, and therefore rely on leaders to create and develop learning opportunities.



Leaders on these expeditions are the lynch pin for the success of the participants. On a British Exploring Society expedition they work intensely for up to 6 weeks in the field, volunteering their professional time, building and developing relationships with young people, increasing understanding, developing core competences and individual awareness and skills, coaching them through reviews and reflection, enabling them to draw lessons from their success and failures, all of which means they have to invest themselves fully into the expedition and its aims.

I have been involved in British Exploring Society since 2011, firstly in charge of Operations, and now as an Advisor on Training and Leadership, along the way I have been Chief Leader on 2 Amazon expeditions and worked alongside some amazing and committed leaders. I recognise the importance of the characteristics and attributes that these leaders bring to the Society, their expedition teams and to the outcomes that the young people leave the expedition with.

Attributes such as having an educational mind set, resilience, good judgement and decision making, having strong values that direct their behaviour, thoughts and actions, great senses of humour (albeit sometimes a bit strange and warped!), reflective approaches, high levels of emotional intelligence, all underpinned by great technical skill and stacks of expedition experience.

British Exploring Society Leaders exemplify what great leaders should be, they deliver truly exceptional expeditions, focused on youth development, in remote and wild environments, they are modest and generous, humble and occasionally a bit excitable!

Receiving the Les Morgan Leader of the Year Award means that I can stand up and champion these amazing colleagues, that return year on year to volunteer their time to make British Exploring Society’s expeditions happen, as a Chief Leader this helps make your job much easier. They follow a tradition that British Exploring Society has upheld for over 86 years and exemplify the core attributes of the best leaders who have come before us, including Les Morgan himself. 

Click here to find out more about British Exploring Society's Leader of the Year Awards 

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