Who’s outdoors is it, anyway?

By British Exploring Society,

On Wednesday 5th October 2022 we are hosting our third annual President’s address.

For the first time, it will be both in-person and on-line. We are indebted to Ernst and Young in London for generously providing us the venue for this event.

This year’s address from Marvin is titled Identity, Britishness and belonging outdoors.

This is an exclusive event for our community of members and supporters. If you haven’t received information about how to participate in this event, please email Abigail our Membership Officer at

Marvin joined us as a Young Explorer to Svalbard in 1990. His subsequent career has been defined by his commitment to building a fairer and more inclusive world.

Here’s a flavour of what Marvin shared with us last year in his speech, A new significance; why fair access to the outdoors is now more important than ever.


‘My greatest ambition as British Exploring Society’s President is to ensure that more young people from a wider range of backgrounds go on to experience what I did.


On expedition I was, as Michelle Obama described some of her experiences, “a poppy seed in a bowl of rice”. I was told by my friends at home that black people don’t climb mountains and they don’t live in the snow. I grew up with a white mum as a brown baby. The statistics say I shouldn’t be the Mayor of Bristol. The difference for me was 6 things: I had a secure home, a loving family, some teachers who believed in me, my faith, boxing for self-esteem, structure and discipline, and I got the chance to get out of where I lived and experience awe.

Mental health is under phenomenal pressure amongst young people and children – COVID has made it worse.  The biggest determinant to success may not be talent, hard work, or ability, but your parental background. Still.  These are huge challenges. The price paid is not just by young people – it’s all of us. If we are not accessing talent – we hurt as a society. We undermine the skills and leadership we need, and we undermine our collective resilience as a country.

The determinants of life chance are so broad – we cannot make everything better – but we do know we can do something. We can help change the odds, and to help the young people we work with live lives of fullness, to reach their potential. To achieve an expanded vision, and sense of responsibility. To be inspired, to develop a sense of self, responsibility, agency, and a real voice. These key qualities help you begin your journey. I never lost the fear of failure, but I developed the ability to deal with that fear. It’s one of the secrets of my resilience, and part of my own journey.’

This year Marvin has helped us kick start our commission to challenge us to improve the diversity of our Leader community, and we recently hosted a two-day consultation with a generous group of champions from across the outdoor community to learn more about the stubborn barriers to a genuinely universal welcome to outdoor experiences.

This year’s President’s address is timely. It will be thought provoking, honest and engaging. We hope you will join us.

You can hear Marvin’s speech from last year in full, here.