at The Royal Geographical Society

Celebration Evening 2022

By Honor Wilson-Fletcher MBE,
British Exploring Society CEO

I am very proud to have had the chance to be part of six British Exploring Society Celebration Evenings. We’ve had to embrace difficult decisions, often seasoned with considerable frustration, particularly over the last three years. Our core values – challenge, courage, self-belief, and community – have been put to the test repeatedly. Pivot has become a by-word for adaptation during the pandemic and I must remind myself that it doesn’t just mean a change, but a shift around a fixed point. We’ve tried to stick to what we do best, delivering personal development, adventure and sharing knowledge, spending time developing trust with the help of our amazing Leaders and between young people. Whilst much has changed, much has remained constant. Our community – you – have worked so hard to keep us focused and to adapt with us and to help us learn and move forward. A massive thank you for your steadfast support for what we do.

We believe, and others tell us, that we’ve actively moved forward as an organisation because of the forced adaptations we made during the pandemic. It seems we’re in better shape. That’s not to say that the effort of being here hasn’t been tough and tiring, as well as very exciting. We see and feel huge rewards from working with and on behalf of amazing young people who might need to ask for more support; who may have to take smaller steps; who made more time and more contact with us in order to start their own adventure. These individual precious journeys come with more responsibility, complexity, and therefore more challenge for us all – and we learn how much more we still need to do every day.

This Celebration Evening was our first in-person get together since just before the first lockdown in March 2020, and it was our first to mark our 90th year too. The evening of celebration allowed us to enjoy and reflect on what you have achieved, what we have achieved together, and on the lasting magic that time in the wilderness with our amazing Leaders can still deliver.

A huge congratulations to our Award winners, including Young Explorer Sunny (Landmark Scottish Highlands 2021) who received The Les Morgan Memorial Award which is presented annually to a Young Explorer who has shown exceptional initiative or leadership in adverse circumstances on expedition.

We also announced the winners of our Leader of the Year Awards, which you can read more about here.

Watch the livestream video back to hear from a wide range of people in our community – from young people who took part on expedition programmes in 2021, our Leaders, Members from across the decades (including our President, Marvin Rees), and Young Explorers looking forward to going on expedition this year. You’ll also have the chance to listen to our Chair, Ian Maginnis, discuss how we aim to become more sustainable, diverse, and inclusive, and to David Dangoor, who has been supporting our Dangoor Next Generation programme for over ten years, share what it means to provide opportunities for young people to learn through exploration and the value of caring about each other.

We see this as a starting line for another journey – and perhaps our most important so far: our progression towards our 100th birthday. We have many more challenges and more peaks to climb before then, with your help. If we’re ambitious for the future, it’s because we’re surrounded by people who make it possible for us to aim high, who would expect nothing less of us, and who inspire us every day.



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