3 Simple Wishes From 3 Wise Men

By Honor Wilson-Fletcher MBE,
British Exploring Society CEO

You can achieve anything you want – never fear failure – there is a place for everyone on expedition.

We’re in November. As far as every supermarket is concerned we’re on a straight run to Christmas. I wanted to celebrate with you 3 important appointments at British Exploring Society. They bring a wealth of knowledge and share characteristics which are important to us: determination, resilience, optimism and generosity. They have all achieved success because they didn’t allow failure to get in the way, and they are now sharing their skills with us to make a positive impact for young people who can benefit most.

Marvin Rees is our new President, Ian Maginnis is our new Chair, and Rahul Moodgal is Chair of our Development Board.

Marvin Rees

Marvin Rees grew up in the most deprived wards in Bristol. He says he was not the most committed student and faced considerable challenges growing up. Marvin joined British Exploring Society as a Young Explorer in Svalbard, which “changed his life”. An increasingly glittering academic career here and in the USA followed. In May 2016 he was elected Mayor of Bristol and became the first ever directly elected Mayor of Black African-Caribbean descent of a European City. Marvin is determined to improve opportunities for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, and to provide more chances for young people and families to get outdoors. He will focus on this in his role as our President. He wants every young person to learn what he learned: never to be stopped by a fear of failure.

Ian Maginnis

Ian Maginnis is an engineer and strategist who has built a successful career helping turn organisations around. He spends much of his time now assessing Duke of Edinburgh Awards and as a World Challenge Leader. Having spent five years on the Board of the YHA, Ian’s goal with us is to continue to help broaden access to those from disadvantaged and challenging backgrounds, as well as significantly increasing the number of Young People we work with. He is motivated by “…the fact that BES’s expeditions are truly open to all, and that diversity and inclusion is central to what we do, not just an ‘add on’.

Rahul Moodgal

Rahul Moodgal is an academic, and business strategist as well as a passionate and committed charitable fundraiser. He has worked and lived in Russia, Japan, and Mongolia. He believes that humans can achieve anything and that education, specifically outdoor education, allows us to flourish and become more open-minded. Accessibility to opportunities, particularly for the most disadvantaged, is very important to Rahul. Teaching at University made Rahul interested in young people and how they react to the world around them, and in understanding more about what inspires them. Rahul first joined us as a Patron before being appointed as Chair of the Development Board. He wants to reinforce the message that young people can achieve anything they want, if they set their mind on it, and that there is a huge world out there, beyond anything they could ever imagine.

Our new appointees join us to help us prepare to celebrate 100 years of youth exploration, and to be in good shape for the decades which follow.

As readers will no doubt be aware – the ‘three wise men’ story is a bit of a muddle. To be honest – it could have been any number of individuals who arrived with gifts, and the journey certainly would have taken a long time. Marvin, Ian and Rahul are of course joining a wider group of ‘wise’ individuals at British Exploring Society – the rest of our Council and Development Board – who continue to provide wise counsel and skills to make our work possible.

Arrivals also indicate departures. With Ian’s arrival, we have to say goodbye to Doug Oppenheim who has been an indefatigable, unbelievably loyal and energetic trustee and Chair, who also started out as a Young Explorer. We will be thanking him properly at our Celebration evening in the New Year – but very much hope this is a change of role for him, rather than a departure. He has been an incredible supporter. Jon Gisby was Chair of the Development Board for only a short time – but we meant it when we said we’d miss him. We are immensely grateful for the work that our trustees do – often unsung, and always hard work. Thank you to you all.


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