on Zoom

President’s Address 2021

By British Exploring Society,


On Wednesday 27th October we are hosting our second annual President’s Address online.

This is an exclusive event for the British Exploring Society community. If you would like to join us for the evening but haven’t yet received an invitation, please email Amy-Leigh our Fundraising Officer at 

Marvin Rees, President of British Exploring Society, was born and brought up in the most deprived wards in Bristol.

Having joined us as a young man on expedition in Svalbard 1990, Marvin’s experience of life-defining learning through exploration was significant in his personal and professional development.

During his inaugural President’s Address, Marvin commented on the impact of awe in the wilderness in helping him to find his place in the world – or as he put it – finding his significance in the insignificance.

He went on to read Economic History and Politics and a Master’s degree in Political Theory and Government. He later undertook the Yale World Fellows global leadership programme.

When he was elected Mayor of Bristol in May 2016, he became the first ever Mayor of Black African-Caribbean descent of a European city. He describes becoming mayor as another expression of a deeper commitment to building a fairer, more inclusive world. He said in his inaugural President’s Address:

“As a Mayor, it’s so important for me to tap into the sources of resilience for individuals and for wider society. I’ve used a proverb in Bristol a lot and it says: we don’t despise our sufferings because sufferings produce perseverance, perseverance, character and character, hope. Finding perseverance was key to me to overcome a fear of failure that had paralyzed me for years. And not just overcoming alone but overcoming together.

But there’s a broader challenge in this which is about wider society, and again, as a city leader, I am frankly quite terrified about the levels of resilience in our society.”

Society is failing to ensure fair and sufficient access to the skills, behaviours and confidence young people need to tackle challenges and seize opportunities. Inequalities in access to these skills have become even more pronounced in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. This brings greater urgency to our vision: to provide more, and a more diverse community of, young people with access to the truly transformative impact of challenging learning and adventure in the wilderness.

In this year’s President’s Address, Marvin will further explore the concept of resilience and our path to it. He will ask us to consider and embrace the challenges ahead, inviting you to be part of the solution.

In the lead up to COP, Marvin’s reflections on building a sustainable future will challenge us to think more deeply as we move forwards.

We all have a critical role to play in our path to resilience. We look forward to exploring it more closely with you.