125. Jeremy Fish and Lucy Constable Fernandez: The enduring impact of Raleigh International

White lady with green shirt on with a Raleigh International logo standing in front of a waterfall. head and shoulders photo of white man with short brown hear and a blue shirt on a boat with a background of sea, and mountains. Dive deep into the heart of Raleigh International in episode 125 of the Access to Inspiration podcast. Sue Stockdale talks to Managing Director Lucy Constable Fernandez and UK Alumni Society co-chair Jeremy Fish about the  transformative power of Raleigh expeditions, sharing personal experiences and insights into the organisation’s evolution from past to present.

Jeremy shares reflections from Raleigh expeditions in Indonesia and Guyana, emphasising the lasting impact on personal and professional development.

Lucy talks about how Raleigh International operates today outlining the mental health benefits of outdoor experiences, how the no-phones policy has been received, and together they discuss the role of Alumni Societies in continuing the impact of Raleigh expeditions globally.

About Jeremy Fish

Jeremy participated in Operation Raleigh as a venturer to Indonesia in 1987; and to Guyana in 1988 as a volunteer manager. He was also a Raleigh Board member for seven years including three as Vice Chair. In 2018 Jeremy was  founder of Raleigh UK Alumni society and is currently Co-chair. He has also been a businessman for 30+ years and is a passionate believer in providing young people with opportunities to develop their leadership skills.

Connect with Jeremy via LinkedIn and the Raleigh UK Alumni Society or via Email. 

About Lucy Constable Fernandez
Lucy is Managing Director of Raleigh International. Her career spans over ten years in marketing and communications within the not-for-profit sector. As a proud mother to a 12-year-old boy, Lucy understands the importance of nurturing the next generation of leaders. Lucy steers the strategic direction and leads the marketing, recruitment, and pre-departure teams. She also collaborates closely with Country Directors and Expedition Delivery teams to fulfil Raleigh’s mission of empowering young individuals worldwide.

Connect with Lucy via LinkedIn and Raleigh International via website : Instagram: Facebook : LinkedIn : YouTube 

Time Stamps

[01:10] Raleigh expedition transformative experiences.
[04:55] Raleigh experience on CV.
[08:28] Global citizenship.
[11:08] Diversity on expeditions.
[15:50] Impact of nature on youth.
[20:04] Adventure and mental health.
[23:51] Global Alumni Societies.
[28:09] Business leaders impacting young people.
[31:39] Opportunities for older people.
[35:43] Parenting and encouraging adventures.
[37:53] Life lessons from Raleigh.

Key Quotes

  • Raleigh really changed my life back in the late 1980s and gave me a bigger perspective on the world.”
  • “If somebody has Raleigh on their CV, I think they’re eminently more employable. It shows that they’ve got some get up and go. They’re a self-starter. They’ve got some initiative.”
  • “Raleigh is generally recognised as being a fantastic way of accelerating people’s development”
  • “You realise that you can do it. You never thought you could, but you get to the end of the day, it’s one foot in front of the other.”
  • “That’s how you learn, develop and grow from listening to other viewpoints.”
  • “If they’re missing home, actually sometimes having that constant contact makes it a lot worse and just getting stuck in is something that helps.”
  • “It encourages business leaders to think about their impact on the environment and also how they’re developing their young people”.
  • “Today’s young people are tomorrow’s managers and leaders of the future.”
  • “Raleigh is an experience that lives with you for your entire life. It’s something you draw upon as a resource in moments of weakness. It’s something you draw upon in times of celebration. And it’s something you reflect on and it will change your life.”

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Other episodes we recommend are:

119. Reanne Olivier: Empowering African Youth

101. Mike Robinson: Collaborating for climate solutions

40. Karen Espley: The accidental adventurer 

Jeremy Fish and Lucy Constable Fernandez Transcript

Sue: Welcome back listeners. In today’s Access to Inspiration podcast, episode 125, we’re diving deep into the heart of an organisation that has been making a positive impact since it was created back in 1978 as Operation Drake. Today, it’s known as Raleigh International, and I’m joined by two remarkable guests who bring unique perspectives on the transformative power of embarking on a Raleigh expedition. First up we have Lucy Constable Fernandez, Managing Director of Raleigh International, here to shed light on the modern landscape of expeditions and how they run today. And then we also have Jeremy Fish, co-chair of the UK Alumni Society, who embarked on an unforgettable Raleigh expedition to Indonesia in 1987. And then he went back in 1988 to Guyana as a project manager. Now, I also know firsthand how Raleigh can change your life, as I went to Kenya in 1988, and it really opened my eyes up to the wider world and the potential that we all have. So strap in and get ready to embark on a journey of discovery as we explore the evolution of Raleigh from past to present and the enduring impact it’s had on thousands of people. Welcome to the podcast Lucy and Jeremy.

Lucy: Hello, thanks for having me.

Jeremy: Hi Sue, nice to be here.

Sue: It’s great to have this conversation. And as I mentioned in the introduction, Raleigh really changed my life back in the late 1980s and gave me a bigger perspective on the world. And it’s really exciting to have both of you here to have this conversation and look at why Raleigh International is such an important organisation to shape the lives of young people and to make an impact in the world. Lucy, what is Raleigh International for those that haven’t heard of it before?

Raleigh expedition transformative experiences

Lucy: So Raleigh International is an organisation that create life enhancing journeys and as you mentioned, transformational experiences for young people specifically. If you’re age 17 to 24 and you want to push yourself out of your comfort zone, challenge yourself, disconnect from technology and make positive impact in the world, then that’s what Raleigh International does.

Sue: And Jeremy, you had an experience of that in the late 1980s in Indonesia, I understand?

Jeremy: Well, I went twice actually, so I went to Indonesia the first time on an island of Seram, which is just off the coast of Java, and then I went a second time to Guyana as a project leader.

Sue: Now, let’s think about your Indonesian expedition first. What appealed to you about going on a rally expedition?

Jeremy: At the time it was something different to do. As a young man, I was quite unsure about my future. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I wanted to find out more about the world. And I heard about Raleigh and I thought, you know what, that sounds like an experience that I’d like to partake in. And then the rest is history.

Sue: Well, to clarify, although the rest is history, this required a little bit of effort, doesn’t it? It did, yeah.

Jeremy:  At the time, you had to go through quite a gruelling selection process, which Raleigh doesn’t have those these days, but my selection process was up in Dunkeld, and I had a weekend of being put through the paces. And having got through that, the next challenge was then to raise some money to attend the expedition, and that took me the best part of six months. And back in the 1980s, I had to raise the sum of £3,000. And in those days, that was quite a lot of money. So that was a real test actually, but I think it was an important part of the challenge.

Lucy: Yeah, definitely. Just to add to that, we don’t quite do the selection process that Jeremy went through. I have heard some stories about those. I’m not sure we’d get away with all of the activities they made you do, Jeremy. We have more of an online application process currently. So we require young people to fill in an application online that’s what motivates them to join a rally expedition? Why do they want to do it? What will they get out of it? We’ll make sure we’re speaking to the young person, make sure they understand what’s involved. So that’s our process. And there is the fundraising element of it as well. Not everyone fundraise, but we try to encourage it as much as possible. Whereas for you, Jeremy, I believe it was part of it that you had to fundraise to go, didn’t you?

Jeremy:  It was, yeah, that’s right.

Sue: Jeremy, you are a business owner, a business leader yourself. So putting your leadership hat on for a moment, if you were looking at somebody who came to you as an employee and had rally experience on their CV, I suppose, what would that have given them that you believe that would make them employable or appealing to a potential employer?

Raleigh experience on CV

Jeremy: Well, you’re right, Sue, I do employ quite a few people and If somebody comes across my desk with Raleigh on their CV, I think they’re eminently more employable. It shows that they’ve got some get up and go. They’re a self-starter. They’ve got some initiative. They’ve probably got a more global view of the world. They’ve had to work in teams. They’ve probably had to work in some quite testing and difficult circumstances from time to time. They’ve probably got some leadership as well.

Sue: And what did you get out of the expedition then, Jeremy? Having spent three months in Indonesia and Seram when you came home. Had it changed you as a person?

Jeremy: It did. Well, it didn’t at the time. It doesn’t change you when you immediately get back as a young person. But actually, I got my first job thanks to Raleigh, a local rotary club very kindly sponsored me a few pounds. And they said, when you get back, would you give us a slideshow of your trip? So I did that. And as I was giving the presentation, there was a a man in the audience, and he said, I need someone like you. Will you come and work for us? So I got my first job, thanks to Raleigh. And yeah, Raleigh changed me sort of in my later years, I think, or I started to become aware of the change and Raleigh’s importance to my personal development and the opportunities it helped create. as my career started to grow and flourish and I attended lots of interviews where people said, oh, you’re on Raleigh, were you? My daughter or my son’s been on Raleigh and what a fantastic experience.

It’s not only a conversation piece, but actually people do know about Raleigh and Raleigh is generally recognised as being a fantastic way of accelerating people’s development and it does set them aside from others. It gives them life skills that they’re not going to learn in a classroom or a university or anything else. It’s going to give them practical skills and as a businessman I want to employ people that are practical people. That’s what business is at the end of the day. It’s not academic. Business is about doing things Generally speaking, Raleigh people have a better rounded set of skills than others and it had that effect on me all throughout my life and I gradually became more and more aware of it in my later years.

Sue: So it’s been of great benefit to you and you see the benefit in other young people. Lucy, all three of us on the call of course know what Raleigh is but for our listener that maybe hasn’t come across it before, what actually happens then when a young person participates in an expedition?

Global citizenship

Lucy: So we have expeditions in two countries currently, Costa Rica and South Africa, and there are different phases to the expedition. So you start, you get on a plane by yourself, which for a lot of young people is their first challenge, really. They’ve never done anything like that. You just have the confidence to get on a plane by themselves and go across the world. You’re picked up at the airport. You go through an induction and training process with the full-time team in that country, in what we call field base. and then you meet people from all over the world with different beliefs, backgrounds, cultures and you are put into different groups and you go on three different projects. So you will take part in an environmental project. and a community project and then an adventure leadership phase as well. So the idea behind the projects is that you’re not just actively doing that volunteering work but you’re also learning as you go as well.

The expedition doesn’t end when you go home, you carry on and use the skills that you’ve learnt and it’s this whole idea of global citizenship that we here thrown around so much. On the environmental phase, for example, we call them venturers, not volunteers, just to explain that. Work with local experts on conservation projects that support the protection of local wildlife and biodiversity. You’re learning about climate change and living sustainably. On community projects, you could be engaging in cultural exchange sessions, integrating within the community, working side-by-side local communities on rural development initiatives that support poverty alleviation and access to improve education, for example. So it’s very broad and I think that’s what makes Raleigh so special as well. You’re not just going and doing one thing, it’s a whole range of different activities. And perhaps the most challenging of them all is the adventure phase. and currently that can be up to a 250 kilometre trek and when we say that we usually get a gasp after.

You can’t possibly make people do 250 kilometres trek across volcanoes and through rainforests but actually that challenge, that pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, the difficulty bonds you together as a group and is where you learn that leadership skills and team working and You realise that you can do it. You never thought you could, but you get to the end of the day, one foot in front of the other. And a lot of our Venturers never could believe that they would do it. Some of them dread it. And they get to the end and they’re like, oh my gosh, I did that, I could do anything. And it’s such an amazing accomplishment and it gives them such confidence, which is so wonderful to see. Throughout the whole expedition, you see the growth in these young people from beginning to end. And you can really see it going through these situations together. It’s quite incredible.

Sue: Now, the three of us are all, of course, advocates for Raleigh, having been involved in it in different ways over the years. And for some young people today, they haven’t got the resources to be able to afford to participate in an expedition like that. It might just be a step too far. So is it really fully inclusive and open to people from all backgrounds?

Diversity on expeditions

Lucy: It is absolutely open to everyone. Obviously, the main barrier is that there is a financial commitment. So a lot of young people do fundraise to go on it. But we understand that for some young people, fundraising isn’t even an option. They don’t necessarily have that disposable income. If they’re working, the work, the money they get in from that work goes in towards their household. So we do recognise that and we try and support as much as possible. we’re really excited that actually we’ve been working with the Raleigh UK Alumni Society and the Scientific Exploration Society on the SES Raleigh Explorer Award. So this year we have fully funded seven young people from different backgrounds a chance to go on a 10-week expedition which is incredible because it won’t only change their lives it will hugely enhance the expedition for everyone. Diversity and inclusion is absolutely essential to a good expedition. The whole point is that people go and meet others, like-minded people, but from different backgrounds. And that’s how you learn, develop and grow from listening to other viewpoints. And you might not always agree, but you find out how to work it out. And that’s real life, you know. So we’re definitely committed to doing more and more so more people can join.

Jeremy: Well, I think it’s hugely exciting, this opportunity. And as you said, Lucy, it’s been funded by Raleigh Alumni, by the SES and members of the Raleigh UK Society. And it’s also being sponsored, which you didn’t add, by Raleigh International as well. So Raleigh International are making a substantial donation towards the cost of the expedition. We’ve got our seven people selected for this year and we’ve just been through the process. We had 100 applications for seven places, which was absolutely phenomenal. I’m very excited by it and I’m looking forward to continuing that next year and with a bit of luck raising a bit more money to see if we can send a few more young people on these expeditions. and I don’t know if I should add it now, but the details of the award are all on the Raleigh International website if anyone’s interested for the future.

Lucy: So we also try and encourage people to apply for grants externally from Raleigh. Jeremy mentioned that the Rotary were a great sponsor for him. There are lots of other places. Look to support young people. So what I would say is definitely don’t feel closed off. I can’t afford this. There are other organisations that are willing to support as well and we will support with the fundraising as much as we possibly can.

Sue: Now, in a previous episode, we were talking about outdoor education with Neil Wightwick, our guest. And one of the things that he was talking about was connecting with nature in the outdoors. And that’s such a powerful environment for learning. So Jeremy, I want to take you back to Indonesia and then in Guyana as a volunteer manager. I bet you had some interesting experiences while you were in those places. What stands out to you most of all from your experiences on Raleigh expeditions?

Impact of nature on youth

Jeremy:  That’s a very good question. Well, the Indonesia expedition was a scientific expedition and some of the memorable moments, we were on an island called Sawai. And I was lying on the beach one evening and I saw all these huge fruit bats fly overhead into the sunset. And they were like as big as herons, these things. absolutely huge and just literally hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of these things and I remember thinking thank goodness they’re not vampires so that’s one moment another moment is in Guyana there was a lot of trekking in that actually we probably did a trek probably not as long as some of the young people have to do today but we were trekking the jungle I just remember it incessantly pouring with rain and you were just drenched You didn’t mind because it was warm rain. And as soon as the rain stopped, you were almost glad that you were drenched because you could cool off a bit. I remember the mosquitoes as well.

You know, if you go on a Raleigh expedition, I’m afraid, sorry, you’ve got to just take the insect repellent. You’ve got to cover up and do what they tell you to do. It’s not all glamorous. It is testing at times. But I also remember walking through the forests on the way to the Rupanuni district and seeing monkeys in the trees. Another experience is in Indonesia, the salmon crested cockatoo. It’s endemic to the island of Seram. It’s a beautiful bird and at the time the locals were exporting these. They were smuggling them and they were selling them. And as a result of the rally expedition, the Salmoncrested Cockatoo was put on the CITES list of endangered species. So it had a positive impact. There are so many memories, so I could talk all day about them. And this is, what, over 30 years ago, and they still just seems like yesterday to me.

Sue: You’re painting us a vivid picture, it sounds amazing. Lucy, do young people today, do you hear reports of the sort of experiences that they have? And what are you hearing back in headquarters about the impact that being in nature is having on the young people?

Adventure and mental health

Lucy: Yeah, absolutely. The whole point of the expedition is that they are outside connecting in nature. They’re in rural communities, they’re in tents, in community centres. We don’t put them up in fancy hotels or anything like that. So the whole point is connecting. So the impact is huge. One of the things that we introduced last year was a no phones on project policy, which we introduced to have our venturers connect even more with nature. So they didn’t have that opportunity to see things through a camera lens, for example. So they were really in the moment and experience it.

Sue: So how do young people get in touch with their families if their parents are anxious?

Lucy: Yes, so whilst they’re on their project phase, so whilst they’re in the environmental project or the community project, they leave their phones behind at field base. However, if their parents wanted to get in touch, they can do it through us and we will pass the message on. They do get their phones back at what we call changeover. So the time between the projects when they’re at the field base, they are able to communicate back home. But you’re right, they won’t have that direct communication when they’re on project. Obviously, if anything urgent happens, we have all the processes in place so we can make that contact happen. But really, the experience is so much more enhanced when they aren’t able to contact that home the whole time. If they’re missing home, for example, actually sometimes having that constant contact makes it a lot worse and just getting stuck in is something that helps. And it’s a really good learning lesson for the parent as well, I think.

Sue: Well, I think you’re right there. It’s educating both parent and young person.

Lucy: And the feedback has been amazing. The improvement on mental health, anxiety, just building more friendships, things like that is quite amazing. And I think just being outside is such an amazing antidote to all of those things that not just young people experience.

Sue: The Access to Inspiration podcast is a free to listen to podcast, but it’s not free to make, but we think it’s worth it. So if you’re enjoying this episode, then why not buy me a coffee? Just click on the link you’ll find on the website against this episode. And then I can enjoy that coffee when I’m working on future episodes to bring you more inspiration. Now back to our guest. So you touched on mental health there, and that is one of the issues in society today. How does being on an expedition support somebody’s mental health? Because I’m also imagining that one has to be in a positive frame of mind enough to want to participate in an expedition in the first place.

Lucy: Yeah, an expedition isn’t a fix. It isn’t treatment or anything like that. You definitely have to be prepared to be uncomfortable, to be pushed out of your comfort zone. But I think for those people that are in a place where they think they can do that, or they’ve experienced something like that before. For example, they’ve been on the Duke of Edinburgh Award. It gives people a little insight about what they’re going to get themselves in for. I think providing an opportunity for young people to get away from the day-to-day pressures of life, from the exposure of social media, the pressure of what are you going to do next with your life? You have to go to university, you have to go with the rest and actually just to stop a disconnect from that completely is such a rare thing. People don’t get the opportunity to do that and to say actually I’m going to go away for three months and actually just focus on supporting other people, building friendships, learning and developing myself Just that in itself gives people the time and the space and put things into perspective. And I think that in itself can have such a positive impact on someone’s mental health.

Sue: Jeremy, how do you see things? You mentioned earlier the Alumni Society. I think you’re co-chair of that. Does mental health play out in the work that is happening there?

Jeremy: The Alumni Society is a collection of ex-Raleigh people that are trying to continue the adventure. And we’re a society, we get together three or four times a year. We go on weekend activities. So typically the philosophy behind the society is all around action, adventure and social. So action, we’re committed to volunteering and doing some community work and giving something back. and typically we’ve done conservation work, we’ve done some work up at a children’s hospice, we’ve worked with some of the national parks on clearing areas. There’s an adventure element, so we do a hike, we don’t do anything like a 100 mile hike. Hikes are quite tame in comparison, they’re normally about 10 to 12 miles, but they’re in interesting parts of the world, in the Yorkshire Dales or the Peak District or in Snowdonia. and then there’s a social element to it as well so we get together in the evening and we’ll do a barbecue or we’ll do a group cook and we’ll try different cuisines from around the world and we relive our rally experiences sometimes we sit around the campfire and toast marshmallows and do all that sort of stuff and it’s a lot of fun. And we encourage anyone that’s been involved with Raleigh to come and join us. And to answer your question, I think it’s great for people’s mental health. We do see quite a few alumni with mental health challenges as well.

And I think, as Lucy said, just getting out there, getting into the fresh air, getting some exercise, connecting with like-minded individuals and having that social interaction. It’s all a positive, healthy thing. It’s healthy for body, it’s healthy for mind. And I know, certainly from my personal experience, that every time I attend a Raleigh UK Society weekend, I’m usually coming back buzzing. I’m coming back with my batteries recharged. I’m coming back with a renewed love for Raleigh. And actually, I’m feeling energized. So yeah, it’s got to be good for people’s mental health. It’s certainly not the complete cure for it, but it’s a positive day out of potentially many dark days for people that are struggling. And the more positive days that you can have, it’s got to be good for you.

Sue: So that’s what’s happening in the UK. There are alumni societies in other parts of the world. And given we have a global listenership for the podcast, which of you would like to tell the listener about what else is happening in other countries?

Global Alumni Societies

Lucy: We have some amazing alumni societies and they’re each doing different but equally incredible things. For example, in Bermuda, we work very closely with them. They have their own development programme where they support young people from underserved backgrounds to get outside, get out into nature. And then at the end of their own programme, they go on a rally expedition. We have people in Hong Kong also doing the same thing. There’s 15 global societies so there are a lot of people doing incredible things. Some of them send people directly to Rally.

Jeremy: There’s a very strong society in Singapore and also Raleigh China is huge. Raleigh China’s sort of morphed into its own sort of almost separate organisation in parallel with Raleigh really but again that’s all sourced from Raleigh. I think there’s a society in Tanzania And all these Raleigh societies, they’re doing similar things. They’re all in sort of various stages of sort of maturity. Some of them are very, very well established, have got their own funding and even employ their own staff. Others, like the UK Society, are still relatively young. We’ve only been going sort of, what, six years now. So we’re still very heavily reliant on volunteers. So it’s great. And wherever you are in the, around the world, if you’ve, you know, been on a Raleigh expedition, go and join your Raleigh Alumni Society, whatever country you’re in, because it’s such a positive experience. One of the aims and objectives of Raleigh was to establish global leadership, and that’s exactly what it does. And if you’re involved in your Raleigh Society, you’re playing a very key role in that.

Sue: So there’s things happening around the world, which I’m really heartened to hear and gives me a sense that there’s really tens of thousands of people have been through the Raleigh experience over the decades since it started as Operation Drake many, many years ago. And then it moved into Operation Raleigh and of course, then Raleigh International. Now then it’s morphed again more recently and Lucy, I know that now Raleigh is a for-profit organisation and some people are a bit uncomfortable about that. So how do you respond to that reality?

Lucy: I would say that after decades of being a charity I completely understand why that would make some people uncomfortable. I had reservations myself when I found out Raleigh would be moving from charitable status to a limited company, particularly after working in the charity sector my whole career. and working for Rally when we were a charity. And I think ultimately it’s about two things. Does Raleigh continue to have the same vision and mission? Yes. Does Raleigh still make a positive impact? Yes. And I had many conversations with the people who sort of brought back Raleigh International And I felt confident that they knew the responsibility that came with acquiring a brand like Raleigh. It is a huge legacy. And like you said, there’s over 55,000 people across the globe that have taken part in Raleigh International. And we can’t take that for granted. Raleigh is its people at the end of the day. And for me, I thought the best way to keep Raleigh, was, I guess, from within. And I have a team of incredibly passionate people, over half of whom are alumni. and they’re committed to upholding its values, its culture and its legacy. And I think it’s really easy to connect. good with charity and bad for anything else. But the truth is, there are some credible organisations, not just Raleigh, doing great work with both those statuses. And really, sadly, Raleigh International Trust went into liquidation. But hopefully now, we’ll continue changing lives for decades to come, and working with alumni and learning from the past.

Sue: So given that it has to make a profit, it has to be a business, how do you measure the success of the organisation? Is it just purely profit or are there other ways that you’re measuring the impact and the success of the business?

Lucy: Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s twofold. Firstly, with the projects that we do. So I mentioned before we do community projects and environmental projects. We work in tandem with local communities and create partnerships. they work towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Before we set up a project, we make sure what are we trying to achieve with this project? Why are we here? We’re not just coming in, building a school, thank you very much, goodbye. That defeats the whole point of what we’re trying to do. So that’s the first thing. And the second thing for me is the impact we’re having actually on the young people. So we say they develop leadership, they develop their confidence, their team working skills. OK, but how? And how are we measuring that?

So, for example, we survey them at the beginning, we survey at the end, we measure that from beginning to end. So we’re actually talking to the venturers constantly to try and improve the programme, to try and make sure we’re delivering what we say we’re delivering through things like the day leadership scheme, for example. So this is something that we do to improve leadership with the young people. Each day, they take it in turns to be the leader for the day. So we will review things like that to make sure they’re actually getting the skills that they say we’re getting. So yes, of course, we’ve got to be financially stable. But the whole point of a rally expedition is that we’re serving communities, the environment, and ultimately the young person.

Sue: So now what you’re making me think about, Lucy, is about any business and how it can measure more than just profit. Jeremy as a business leader. Is there any learning that you can get from what Lucy’s talking about there with how Raleigh runs its business that is relevant for any business leader listening to this podcast? Are there lessons that can be taken that you don’t have to just be a charity to be doing good work?

Business leaders impacting young people

Jeremy: I think it’s a great question and it’s a very thought-provoking question Sue, but the answer is yes. What it does, it It encourages business leaders to think about their impact on the environment and also how they’re developing their young people, because today’s young people are tomorrow’s managers and leaders of the future. And when it comes to training, I’m always in sort of two minds about training. Certainly in my industry, and I work in construction-related industry, people learn by doing, seeing and doing. They don’t really learn by being in a classroom environment. If anything, people like to go on courses to get a free lunch and then they come back and they do their job exactly as the way they did before. Something like a Raleigh experience, which is experiential learning, that actually changes them or transforms them at the core. And I think that type of learning is very valuable in the business world.

So it does put more emphasis on that. And actually, in a previous role, I did send a couple of people on Raleigh expeditions as part of that experiential learning, and it did have a transformative effect on them as individuals. And the second element is actually the sustainable business. Funnily enough, my business is one of the worst polluting environments because we buy and we rent out construction machinery. And it’s all diesel based. So we are heavy CO2 polluters. But it does get you to think differently. We’re quite big into carbon offsetting, for example, which is not expensive at all. We’re into helping customers reduce their emissions by reducing their engine idle hours and all those sorts of things. So as a leader in my position, rallies have definitely affected me and I’d like to think it will affect other business leaders as well. It is not just about profit. Profit is important. You’ve got to generate profit first and foremost. But actually, the way I see it is that you’ve got to generate profits in a responsible way, while encouraging the next generation of young people to the top.

Sue: So given that we’ve been using the term young people so far in this conversation, that makes me think then, well, are there ways that older people can get involved in Raleigh? Or is it just for those 17 to 24 year olds?

Opportunities for older people

Lucy: There are, Sue, there are ways that over 25s can get involved. So we have a fantastic group of people, we call them our Venturer Managers, that come and support the running of the expedition. They support our operation teams in country. So if you’re a good planner and organiser, you can support the operations team as our logistics coordinator. If you’re passionate about supporting young people become leaders, you could be a great project coordinator. So we have several roles. Yeah, and I would encourage anyone who’s maybe thinking of having a career break or stuck in something, they maybe want to try something new and push themselves out of their comfort zone. We’re really looking for people who are willing to support us in our vision and mission and support young people become, as Jeremy said, the next generation of young leaders.

Sue: Well, I’m glad there’s opportunities for older people, if we put them into that category as well. So looking forwards, this whole series is on heritage and nature, and we’ve spoken about the nature element. We’ve spoken a little bit about the heritage of the Raleigh brand, but thinking about that ability to hand something on for others into the future, what state do you hope Raleigh will be in in 10 years time, Lucy, as the leader?

Lucy: I hope that Raleigh will be thriving, well-known, an organisation that people can trust and believe in. There was a time a few years ago now that people just knew, oh, Raleigh, this is what you do and you’re great. And that’s kind of where I want to get with Raleigh. Obviously, impact on the communities and environments we serve is incredibly important, but also on the individuals themselves. I hope that every single person that’s been on Raleigh in 10 years time can look back and say that experience changed me, that made me who I am. I got this job because of Raleigh. I had the confidence to go away from home and go to a different university or actually have been through a really hard time recently. But the coping mechanisms I learned on Raleigh helped me deal with that. It could be inspiration to set up your own business or a charity, as many ventures have done in the past. So I hope to see the network of incredible alumni grow and support each other. And I want those people to spread the word and tell everyone else about Raleigh too.

Sue: And you, Jeremy?

Jeremy: Well, the first thing I want to add is that obviously I’m not employed by Raleigh International, so I’m just an alumnus. But where I hope it will be, I hope that Raleigh will continue to provide the opportunities for young people, because I think in this world of digitisation and social media and everybody on their phones all the time, actually for people to get out there and to roll up their sleeves and to experience nature firsthand, to endure enjoy expeditions and the comradeship, the companionship that people will get is something that is increasingly rare in this world. And I’d like to think that the Alumni Society will continue to encourage young people to work with Raleigh to help promote that. and I’m very excited by its future. Personally, I’m delighted to see the new Raleigh go from strength to strength.

Sue: So finally, Lucy, I know you’re a mother of a 12-year-old boy. Do you hope that he will be able to go on an expedition in the future or have you put him off by raving on about it so much at home?

Parenting and encouraging adventures

Lucy: I don’t know. I hope not. He has said to me before, will you stop telling me to push myself out of my comfort zone? But no, he knows I’ve practically already signed him up. You know, Freddie is actually about to go on his first residential. For me, that’s his first step into pushing himself out of his comfort zone. He’s gone through a lot in his little life. He’s suffered anxiety. He’s been in and out of hospital. And I think I was at risk as a parent of completely wrapping him up in cotton wool and not wanting him to do anything that would cause him any sort of fear or anxiety or pain. So I actually stopped him doing stuff and I had to have a word with myself and think, no Lucy, you’re making it worse for him. He needs to develop the resilience and to put himself in those situations. Now I encourage him to do things. because he’s a bit nervous or because he doesn’t want to do it because at the end he’ll realise that he can and he’ll grow in confidence and actually it was me that was probably stuffing him and making him believe that he couldn’t do it by being a nervous mum and I’ve got to practice what I preach. and sign him up to Raleigh Expedition. So absolutely. And I think the benchmark for me with all the expeditions is, would I want my son to go on this? Would this be an experience for my son, who’s not particularly outdoorsy, actually, he probably would rather be inside gaming. But I’ve got to be like, no, this has got to be for everyone and safe and fun and adventurous. So yeah, he’s going, he’s going. He doesn’t know it, but he’s going.

Sue: Well, it’s just interesting there to give us the perspective from a parent as well, Lucy, in terms of how your mindset and openness to adventure and experiencing different things for your son can play quite a role in shaping what he’s encouraged to do.

Lucy: Yeah, and I completely understand it. We speak to parents all the time who are a bit nervous about it, or they don’t maybe want them to go, or maybe they’re completely opposite. But I completely understand that perspective of things. And it is hard, especially with the no phones, you know, you don’t have that contact with them. But what Raleigh can do is provide that buffer, you know, they’re safe, they’re there, they’re fine. They’re having an incredible time making mistakes, learning from them. and we will communicate with you. And I think I just really understand that because that’s what I would want as well.

Sue: So if our listener wants to find out more Lucy, how do they find out about Raleigh?

Lucy: You’d go to raleighinternational.org. And I would also encourage you to go to our social media sites, particularly Instagram, because you can see some fabulous live content from the countries.

Sue: Sounds great. And Jeremy, if you want to continue to grow and develop the Alumni Society, how do alumnus that might be listening to this podcast find out about it?

Jeremy: Well, currently you can go onto Facebook and just key in Raleigh UK Society and that will take you to the group. It’s a closed group, so you’ve got to answer a few questions. Or if you’re not on Facebook, you can just drop us an email at raleighukalumnisociety at gmail.com and we’ll get in touch and we’ll put you on a mailing list and let you know how you can get involved.

Sue: So finally, Lucy, if there was one life lesson that you think you’ve gained from your experience of being part of the Raleigh family over the years, what’s the one life lesson you’ve gained?

Life lessons from Raleigh

Lucy: One life lesson. Oh, that’s tough because it’s probably quite a lot. I think it’s that you can rely on other people and it’s okay to make mistakes. And that’s what the learning is all about. And Jeremy?

Jeremy: Raleigh is an experience that lives with you for your entire life. And it’s something you draw upon as a resource in moments of weakness. It’s something you draw upon in times of celebration. And it’s something you reflect on and it will change your life. That’s the key learning for me.

Sue: Thank you both for the conversation today. I hope that it has given our listener some pause for thought and reflection about how rally and organizations like it can have such an impact on people. That was great. Thank you. Well, thanks to our guests today, Lucy and Jeremy. And please do get in touch and let us know what you enjoyed about the episode. And I have an ask of you, please share it with just one other person that you think would enjoy it. And that way we can help more people learn about the Access to Inspiration podcast. Well, I’ll be back next week and I’ll be talking to Sofia Heinonen, Executive Director of Rewilding Argentina. She leads projects to recover ecosystems in areas that cover more than 1 million hectares. And she was recently recognized by the BBC as one of the 100 most influential women on the planet. I hope you can join us then.

Sound Editor: Matias de Ezcurra
Producer: Sue Stockdale