Simon Parker Talk

Senior School
11 Nov 22

‘Say Yes!’ to those opportunities when they arise. This was the message Angus Brown (Fourth Form) left this week’s Kingdon Society lecture with. Angus writes an insightful report on the lecture below.

On Wednesday 9th November, Simon Parker, the British travel writer gave us an inspiring lecture about following your dreams and how his own passion for travel, meeting people and telling an untold story has enabled him to live his dream and make a successful career out of it.

Tales from his adventures whilst reporting from over 100 countries in the last ten years kept us all entertained and it was fascinating to hear about his first-hand experiences of so many places and issues that we have heard about in the news. From his first expedition hitchhiking across Australia and New Zealand whilst living out of a £20 army tent, to driving a rickshaw 2,500 miles across the length of India, using only a pocket map to then hiking the Chilean Andes – a test for his obvious mental and physical strength in challenging humid conditions and high altitude, describing it as one of the toughest treks of his life.

I admired his love of challenges and his resilience. I particularly enjoyed hearing about his expedition sailing and cycling from China to London in 2016, which he documented in a series for the Telegraph and the BBC World Service.

He acknowledged he was ‘no sailor’ and described crossing the Pacific as the worst month of his life; sea sickness left him weak, underweight, and unfit for the long ride across America. Yet he battled through, pushing himself to complete each day’s sailing or cycling to achieve something extraordinary, whilst learning more about himself and the world and people around him.

In 2020, when his travel journalism career was abruptly halted, and needing an adventure and a purpose he undertook a 3,427 journey around ‘Pandemic Britain’. His first book, ‘Riding Out: A Journey of Love, Loss and New Beginnings’ was an account of this trip, his personal struggles, and the interactions with those that he met along the way – I’m looking forward to reading it.

Simon Parker’s talk was truly inspiring, reminding us to pursue our passions and ‘Say Yes’ to those opportunities and make the most of where they take you!