Celebration Evening

By British Exploring Society,
charity update

Our annual Celebration Evening offers a chance to look back on the year and give our appreciation to all those who have helped deliver adventure and challenge and reaffirmed the capacity of our community to adapt and be hugely generous. A progressive year, 2020 has been exciting and uplifting. Establishing a new significance in our work, we have been awed by stories from the young people and Leaders we have worked with.

Normally we would play host to the evening from the glamorous Royal Geographical Society building, our Award winners and guests surrounded by the achievements of great geographers and explorers. But, like so many aspects of our lives, this year’s Celebration Evening was adapted to take place virtually online with the grateful support of production company ‘Planned to Perfection’. Streaming live from a green-screen basecamp (with 150 miles separating them), CEO Honor Wilson-Fletcher was joined by our host for the evening, Ben Saunders: record-breaking polar explorer who led the first return journey to the south pole on foot via Shackleton and Scott’s route, endurance athlete, exceptional storyteller and Fellow of British Exploring Society.

“It was a great evening  – as always we were very impressed with the inspiring interviews with the Young Explorers, but the whole event was a tour de force. I’ve been to several large scale online events this year – but this was certainly one of the most ambitious.” – Eleanor Warwick, family of a British Exploring Society Member

Our Celebration Evening gives us the opportunity to mark a year of contribution and achievement. But it also brings so many members of our community together that it allows us to pause to reflect on our purpose, too. Throughout the event, we explored the past, present, and future of British Exploring Society:

Celebrating Dangoor Next Generation. Ten years ago, with the generous support of the Dangoor Family, British Exploring Society and youth charity Catch22 came together to create the Dangoor Next Generation Programme. Our short film about the programme celebrated some of the courageous young people who joined us on our first ever DNG expedition back in 2011. Read more about this programme’s anniversary here.

Our Members. Catching up with two of our Young Explorers from 2019, they shared their thoughts on how going on expedition has since helped them build stronger futures and cope with lockdown.

Welcome to Wildestan. We offered an interactive introduction to our newest destination, Wildestan, with audience participation greatly encouraged as Expert James demonstrated how to light a fire.

Our Young Adventurers. A panel of Young Adventurers aged 14-25 who have been taking part in Wildestan gamely joined us to share what they have learned from taking part in the weekly Adventures.

Our Leaders. We posed some questions to some of our fantastic Leaders, asking them to reflect on both their participation in Wildestan and their time with British Exploring Society more broadly over the years. They sent us their responses on video from destinations across the world…

Thinking about change. Speaking to trustees and partners who know us well, we discussed the changes made to meet the needs of young people right now and to consider the challenges they think we need to tackle to be in good shape for the next ten years.

“For me, the highlight of the evening was hearing from our Young Adventurers and Young Explorers. I loved listening to their individual stories. This is what it is all about: truly inspirational.” – Ian Maginnis, Chair, British Exploring Society Board of Trustees


Additionally, we typically announce the winners of our Awards during Celebration Evening but, due to programme changes in 2020, we were unable to offer our usual Explorer and Leader Awards. Instead, a new Award was created – the Wildestan Award – to recognise the special contribution of an individual to the richness of British Exploring Society’s virtual wilderness. It celebrates those who demonstrate and help others develop our four values – courage, challenge, community and self-belief – through their contribution to Wildestan.

The programme has developed a die-hard and committed cohort of young people who join us every week on a Tuesday night. At the end of our first season, we invited those young people to tell us which Adventure they had enjoyed the most – the Wildestan Expert who delivered that session was awarded our first-ever Wildestan Award. Our congratulations to the winner, Daniel Mazhindu.