Our 90th Birthday

By Honor Wilson-Fletcher MBE,
British Exploring Society CEO

In 2022, British Exploring Society will be 90 years old.

As we anticipated our 90th birthday, and then our 100th, we thought it would help to have a simple, uniting message to glue all our thinking and planning together. Easier to agree on that than on the message itself, of course.

To start, we brought together the key ideas that are important to us to see if they would help us find that message.

As any explorer will tell you, it’s all in the planning. When we design an adventure, we learn and benefit from what has gone before and we use evidence to anticipate what might be ahead of us. We want to celebrate, draw out stories, and draw attention to our remarkable heritage – as well as learn from it.

At the same time, we want to keep our collective eyes on the horizon ahead. So the period between our 90th and 100th birthdays – a very big adventure for us – needed to be about planning forward, and our message had to reflect this. Our President Marvin Rees describes our work as having a ‘new significance’ right now – so if we could capture that, we wanted to.

Our work has always been about the same thing: enabling young people to recognise their own entirely individual potential. That’s obviously central and it remains our core purpose. We want you to FIND YOUR FIRE.

A very particular characteristic of our longevity is the opportunity to see how that potential can flower. Our Members stay in touch, share their stories, come back and contribute, making that an important part of the message too. Our heritage is literally built on those individual and amazing stories, generously shared.

And, finally, we are enthusiastically embracing change and we want to flag this. We’re approaching the end of a five-year plan, called Advance and Ascend, and looking forward to tackling holistic and critical issues relating to our sustainability – without ever losing our ambition and core values. This message needs to signal our organisational robustness.

The verbal bake-off triggered by this set of ingredients produced any number of potential results; some more successful than others. We settled on BUILDING STRONGER FUTURES because we think it celebrates the journey of each individual person we have the good fortune to work with and recognises that each pathway for each explorer is unique to them. It also firmly points forward and signals very clearly that our organisational development is a continuous work in progress.

We hope that it is also open enough to be an invitation for others (you, perhaps?) to join us on that journey, to help us improve and be courageous, to celebrate, learn, and challenge ourselves to new adventures as we head towards our 100th year in 2032.


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