John Blashford-Snell is one of the world’s most renowned and respected explorers, organizing and leading over seventy expeditions including an exploration of the infamous Blue Nile, making the first vehicle crossing of the Darien Gap, and navigating all 2700 miles of the Zaire River, the last two having environmental, medical and scientific objectives.
In 1969 he and his colleagues formed the Scientific Exploration Society, which became the parent body for several worldwide ventures with the support and involvement of the Prince of Wales. He then raised funds and selected a team to run Operation Drake involving 400 young explorers from 27 countries on a 2 year circumnavigation. Ultimately a much larger global youth programme was organised when, in 1984, Operation Raleigh was formed which by 1992 had enabled 10,000 young people from 50 countries, including Gibraltar, to take part in challenges and expeditions around the world.
Although he retired from the Army and as Director-General of Operation Raleigh in 1991, Colonel Blashford-Snell’s commitment to young people is as strong as ever. In 1993 he became Chairman of a £2.5 million appeal to establish a centre to provide vocational training and guidance for the young of Merseyside.
The Colonel’s work has been recognized by the award in 1974 of the Segrave Trophy, the Livingstone Medal of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society (1975), the Patrons Medal of the Royal Geographical Society (1993) and the Gold Medal of the Institute of Royal Engineers (1994).
And if all this were not enough to more than fill a life-time, John Blashford-Snell has written 15 books and is a broadcaster and lecturer and today leads expeditions worldwide with the Scientific Exploration Society. He recently returned from delivering an ambulance boat to a remote tribe on the Amazon.