2021 Overseas Programmes Update

By Honor Wilson-Fletcher MBE,
British Exploring Society CEO

We want to create access to wilderness for those who need it and might benefit most from it. We have tried wherever we can to adapt the way we work during the pandemic to provide those opportunities.

We embrace an inevitable tension in doing so – between what we can reliably guarantee to provide in a period of enormous uncertainty, and what we know from decades of experience can deliver the most lasting, transformative benefit.

As Easter and the first, very welcome, lifting of restrictions in England approaches, we have been continuing to observe how our own, and our potential host countries this summer, have been approaching COVID management. We monitor factors including the rate of vaccinations and COVID-safe travel arrangements. These factors have recently combined to produce a much more downbeat prediction for the likely success of our international programmes this year.

With our trustees, we have therefore made the incredibly difficult decision to cancel our overseas programmes for 2021.

With the goodwill and support of our community and volunteer professional Leaders, we will now shift all our resource to designing and preparing 3 further expeditions – still for a diverse and inclusive group of young people – for delivery in the UK this Summer. This will bring our total number of UK expeditions for 2021 up to 5.

We cannot avoid the bitter disappointment that the cancellation of our overseas programmes will cause to the young people and volunteer Leaders we work with and are hugely saddened to have to share this news with them.

We have made each programme decision based on the best advice and information available to us over the course of the year, and it could still be the case that any of the destinations we have been planning to explore do become available for travel this summer – but at this stage, we assess that this likelihood is too uncertain to proceed. We have judged that it is better to provide certainty and support our Young Explorers with their decision-making now.

We will be encouraging any young person unable to join us overseas to participate on one of our adventures in the UK. We continue to work with a wide range of dedicated referral partners to reach out to young people and will open our additional 2021 UK expeditions for recruitment as soon as we can.


I joined British Exploring Society as CEO in February 2016. Previously I was CEO for 6 years at the Aldridge Foundation where I helped establish 12 state schools in some of the most deprived parts of England.

By Honor Wilson-Fletcher MBE,
British Exploring Society CEO