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John Blashford-Snell

John Blashford-Snell

Explorer and inspirational speaker

Considered by many people the “original British Indiana Jones” John Blashford-Snell is an engaging and inspiring speaker on topics like leadership, teamwork, and adventure. With an abundance of personal stories, his talks are memorable and entertaining.


Legendary explorer John Blashford-Snell has influenced, inspired, and mentored several generations of explorers and adventurers. For his entire career he has been involved with developing and nurturing leadership and potential in others. He truly cares for those he leads, and he inspires others to ‘dare to achieve.’

During his career as a Royal Engineer, he led numerous expeditions, including leading a team of sixty servicemen and scientists, selected and trained by himself, down the rapid-strewn Blue Nile in the mountains of Ethiopia, the first ever descent of that river. During this expedition he invented an innovative method of navigating white water in inflatable boats, something which has become one of the most popular extreme sports and teamwork exercises worldwide as its success depends on the ability of the participants to work together and think clearly under pressure.

John also led vehicle crossings of the Darien Gap and navigated the almost 2700 miles of the Zaire River. His expeditions have always had strong environmental, medical, and scientific objectives and he continues to lead expeditions each year.

John has also lectured on leadership at Sandhurst, and he developed an innovative programme of exploration to teach young officers resilience and leadership. In 1978 he and HRH the Prince of Wales had the vision to found Operation Raleigh, an innovative leadership programme designed to help young people grow and develop their skills at communication, teamwork and leadership, as well as their own self-belief, by giving them an opportunity to explore the world.

John was awarded the prestigious Livingstone Medal by the Royal Scottish Geographical Society in recognition of his leadership of the Blue Nile, British Trans-Americas, and Zaire River expeditions. He has also been honoured with numerous other awards, including an OBE, a Gold Medal (the institute of Royal Engineers), and a Patron’s Medal (Royal Geographical Society).

John is highly respected as an entertaining and memorable after-dinner speaker. His leadership talks focus on the two aspects of leadership that he considers essential: communication and inspiration. He draws on his own vast experience to illustrate and emphasise his key points, and his stories of his own expeditions to remote parts of the world are delivered with wit and enthusiasm that audiences really appreciate. He also discusses the risks and hazards on expeditions and the importance of being prepared and remaining flexible – as well as thinking clearly and creatively under pressure. John is a wonderful storyteller with extraordinary experiences to share.

He is also a popular contributor to radio programmes such as Radio 4’s Museum of Curiosity and Desert Island Discs, and his TV appearances include ‘Parkinson’ and ‘Alexander Armstrong’s Real Ripping Yarns’ for BBC4.


    Keynote Topics:

    • After-dinner
    • Leadership
    • Teamwork
    • Inspirational


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