On Thursday 15th December 2005, the Royal Geographical Society [RGS] with the Institute of British Geographers [IBG] in London hosted a gathering of explorers with a difference to celebrate their achievements.
Michael McGrath, a Fellow of the RGS, was invited as one of a number of guest speakers by the events sponsor Equal Adventure Developments Ltd, a Scottish based Social Enterprise.
The event was aimed at providers, organisers, explorers and National organisations. It provided a forum for discussion on core issues that set the scene for inclusive adventure.
“The brief was to inspire the next generation of disabled explorers in further promoting inclusive adventure. Of course in putting this into context, it’s vital to understand what inclusiveness means. I believe it refers to the abilities and aspirations of people whose needs should be recognised, understood and met within a supportive environment, an enabling environment that encourages participants to achieve their own goals in making real, measurable progress, an inclusive approach that recognises the diversity of need. The challenge is to understand how organisations translate the concept of inclusion into action.
“I was proud to play a small part in helping to further drive the inclusion agenda – this event was a tangible example of active leadership in developing and promoting a shared vision of inclusiveness and a common sense of purpose.” [Michael McGrath]
Media coverage included a piece in The Telegraph ‘Against the odds’ [Guy Mostyn salutes four remarkable athletes] Weekend Section, Saturday December 24th2005, p.11
“Michael McGrath’s presentation in London on the 15th December 2005 at the Royal Geographical Society’s event celebrating the achievements of disabled explorers was inspirational. Standing on the podium, where some of the world’s greatest living explorers have spoken in the past, he held the audience spell-bound – enthralled by the story of his efforts to reach both the North and South Poles and lost in admiration for his ability to use his achievements to help others with the muscle wasting disease Muscular Dystrophy.”
Mrs Shane Winser [RGS-IBG Head Expedition Advisory Centre]
“Michael’s passionate and inspirational style added power and depth to the conference’s message of inclusion. His experience of traveling to both ends of the planet is a clear demonstration of courage and achievement, which stands up with the achievements of other great explorers of our time, regardless of disability”.
Suresh Paul [Founder & Director Equal Adventure Developments Ltd]
Michael McGrath – On 13 January 2004, Michael who has muscular dystrophy, made history by becoming the only disabled person in the world to have successfully conquered both Poles. He reached the North Pole in April 2002
Paul Sillitoe – On 27 April 2004, MacIntyre service user reached 22,075ft on the North Col slopes of Everest, the highest point anyone with a learning disability has achieved on the world’s highest mountain
Jamie Andrew – In January 1999, mountaineer Jamie Andrew survived the storm bound icy summit of a French mountain. Jamie’s hands and feet were amputated. In January 2004, Jamie and three others made an all-disabled ascent of Kilimanjaro
Karen Darke – Paralysed from the chest down after a rock climbing accident, Karen has cycled around Japan and along parts of the Himalaya and has sea kayaked in many places around the world