A Night Of Adventure

Quite unexpectedly, Night Of Adventure turned out to be one of my greatest achievements to date.

[Photo: Jools Whitehorn]

I’d been worried about all sorts of things: concerned that, as Lois Pryce later put it, it might turn into “a novelty women’s thing”; afraid that we simply wouldn’t find enough interesting female adventurers, and would have to fill in the gaps with people who didn’t really deserve to be there. Or maybe no one would buy tickets. Perhaps, in my role as MC, I’d accidentally find myself trotting out tired old cliches like “girl power” (eurgh), or “anything they can do we can do better”, when the whole point of this event was not to show that women are different, or superior, but simply to demonstrate that they are as adventurous, strong, intelligent, funny, resourceful and ultimately human as anyone else on the adventure speaking circuit – good enough at what they do that their gender needn’t really come into it.

And as it turns out, the only person who mentioned gender was me (ahem), in my opening and closing addresses. The rest of the time, as several audience members remarked, we all forgot we were at a ‘women’s’ event, and just enjoyed the fantastic range of speakers. One of the Hope & Homes staff, who’s been to just about all the events since Night Of Adventure was founded in 2010, said it was the strongest line-up yet and, casting my mind back, I’m not surprised.

Almost by accident, we ended up with eleven speakers whose ages ranged from 8 to 50+; whose travels had taken them from the humble Welsh mountains to the Gobi Desert and the South Pole; whose adventures had varied in length from a couple of hours to four years. They had cycled, motored, walked, climbed, ridden, skydived, snowboarded, paraglided, kayaked, sailed, caved, coasteered, and camped in all kinds of weird and wonderful places. Several of them were record-holders, and several more have published books, or are writing them.

Some of the photographs they showed had me covering my eyes in fear – most notably Emily Tolhurst’s pictures of kayaking the Channel (which she did when she was fourteen), and Holly Budge’s of skydiving Everest. Others, such as Hannah Engelkamp’s struggles with her recalcitrant donkey, as they walked the perimeter of Wales, had the whole audience howling with laughter.

So in the end there was no need to make any patronizing final address about what certain special women can achieve when they really put their mind to it. It was enough to acknowledge the eleven exemplary human beings that stood before us, and to thank them for inspiring us to be stronger, to try harder, to live better and to pursue our own adventures, wherever they might take us.

I couldn’t be prouder.

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EDIT: Actually, yes, I could. I’m very much aware that we had an exclusively white line-up. I tried very hard – and ultimately failed – to find any adventurous people of colour to speak at the event. But I’m sure they must exist. If anyone’s able to help me out with links, leads, suggestions and collaborations for future events, please get in touch.

Leave a Comment

14 Comments

  1. Posted April 1, 2014 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Yay! Sounds great!

    • Posted April 1, 2014 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      Ms Kortschak, if you ever find yourself in the UK, I must insist you come and speak at one of these events. (Or just join me for a beer.)

      • Posted April 1, 2014 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

        That’s an invitation I will gladly take you up on, Emily! Maybe not the public speaking (bit phobic about that – everyone has their fears, don’t they…) but a beer, most definitely.

        • Posted April 2, 2014 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

          Well, if the public speaking part doesn’t appeal, you could just stand silently on stage while the audience gape at your incredible photographs. But, failing that, yes, a beer. Maybe two.

  2. Posted April 1, 2014 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    Glad it was a success, disappointingly the first reminder I had about it was a post (old post) I saw the day after on LFGSS trying to sell some spare tickets. Wish I had come it sounds very informative.
    Have you gained aspirations of becoming an event organiser? or was this a one off?

    Regards
    Mule

    • Posted April 2, 2014 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      No particular aspirations – but I have agreed to organize a cycling-themed NoA up on Leeds on the 5th July. Watch this space (and others, such as LFGSS).

  3. Janneke
    Posted April 1, 2014 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    It was a great night – and a very impressive line up!

  4. Bex
    Posted April 1, 2014 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    Well done Emily, it was a brilliant evening. The speakers were all so different but were all so inspiring. I left the evening with a big grin on my face and my head full of ideas. I have since been in contact with one of the speakers and have arranged a mini adventure with them!

    It really was a great evening and one you should be very proud of putting on. I can’t wait to go to the next one!

  5. Posted April 1, 2014 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    Sounds like a great event! Do keep us posted of anything like this happening in the future, I’d love to come along.

  6. Posted April 12, 2014 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Glad the event went well Emily.

    For more diversity in your next event, you could try some members of the Women’s Commonwealth Antarctic Expedition.

  7. Posted April 25, 2014 at 2:52 am | Permalink

    wow, this sounds amazing! I wish I could have been there (currently cycling in South America)! I hope there will be more to come!

  8. Posted April 27, 2014 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    I would suggest you contact Tanya Lo (she is Canadian of Chinese-Malayasian extraction), one of the co-editors for the Canadian cycling magazine, Momentum. She lives in Metro Vancouver.

    She and her husband cycled and camped, the length of South America from Patagonia and up.

  9. Posted May 1, 2014 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Well done!
    I imagine organising an event like this is bloody hard work. 😉
    So well done (and thank you!)
    Al

  10. Jenne
    Posted June 13, 2014 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    And also, if you find people in far-flung places who can’t afford to travel to speak, and no one’s able to raise the funds, perhaps they could do a Skype talk? (Or other program of that ilk.)