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Volunteers from the Malaysia 06E expedition

Raleigh is a UKmarker-based educational development charity that aims to help people of all backgrounds and nationalities to discover their full potential.

This is primarily done through 4-10 week expeditions to Borneo Malaysia, Costa Rica & Nicaragua and India. Past destinations have included Chilemarker, Costa Ricamarker & Nicaraguamarker, Ghanamarker, Namibiamarker, Malaysiamarker, Mongoliamarker and Fijimarker.

The expeditions themselves generally comprise three parts (Adventure, Environment and Community), each lasting about three weeks. Projects are planned with local partners allowing participants to get involved with rural communities and habitats. People can apply either as venturers (17-24 year olds) or as volunteer managers (25+) who undertake a variety of roles including expedition photographer, medic, communication officer and logistics manager. Raleigh is a member of The National Council for Voluntary Youth Services


Initially a four-year project under the name of "Operation Raleigh" (1984-1988), it was a follow-up to the successful Operation Drake, and included 4,000 volunteers and 1,500+ staff by using ship-based expeditions.As the initiative flourished, it was decided that it should become permanent, and the expeditions migrated to being land-based operation.

In 1992, following the increased number of international volunteers, the venture was renamed "Raleigh International" with a continued organizational focus on youth development.


Notable celebrities that have been on Raleigh expeditions include Prince William who spent 10 weeks in Chile in 2000 and Ray Mears.

The following is taken from an interview with Ray Mears by Andrew Smith on Sunday February 17, 2002

'As an only child growing up in the southeast of England (Sussex, Kent, Surrey), he spent most of his free time alone in the woods ('In a way, I think I walked into the woods and nature saw me and said, "Walk this way."

I think something similar happens to most of us in life.

We don't choose our path, it chooses us'), but could see no way of applying what he learnt at school or university ('I think that was very sad, looking back on it: I didn't think I'd learnt anything, I was just doing what I enjoyed').

As a result, he left school in 1982 at the age of 18 and took a job in the City, where he had a terrible time.

'It was ghastly,' he laughs.

'That doesn't mean I think it's bad, I just hate that sort of life.

For me to be there is not good for anybody, cos I'm unhappy and if I'm unhappy, I'm going to buck against that.'

The failure hurt, but faded when he landed a job on the Operation Raleigh project, where inner-city kids are brought together and whisked away on adventures.

Here, he learnt to work in a team and realized that he had acquired something of value in the woods.

Afterwards, he turned to setting up the survival-instruction business that he still runs with Rachel, his partner of 10 years, whom he met on one of his courses and whose nearly grown children he helped to raise when he wasn't traveling ('Rachel's older than me: I won't have children of my own,' he states with resigned finality).

Then, in 1996, he was asked to co-present the travel programme Tracks .

He's never looked back.

'After Operation Raleigh, it all becomes a blur, really.

The years seem to go past like minutes and all of a sudden you start to feel a few aches in your bones and think, "Oh my God, I'm mortal!"

I don't like it.

I fight against it, I have to say.'

I can still hear him laughing as he disappears into the woods and his basha.'


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