Mercers' Lecture Review: Sarah Outen

On Wednesday 9 November, Dauntsey’s welcomed the renowned adventurer Sarah Outen to give a lecture entitled ‘Dare to Do’, based on her most recent book about her 4.5 year expedition called ‘London2London: Via the World’.

Beforehand, Sarah was joined by a group of Sixth Formers who shared their experiences of adventure, which ranged from climbing Kilimanjaro to participating in the Devizes to Westminster canoe race, before asking questions ranging from her motivation to how she coped with being alone. We also exchanged views on the effects of climate change around the world after she told us about the absence of snow in the winter that she cycled through Alaska. Over dinner, we discussed our plans for adventures in the future and she advised us to never let being afraid of failure prevent us from giving things a go.

Sarah’s lecture followed, and was attended by a large audience of all ages who were treated to engaging and entertaining accounts of her travels. Ranging from her days at Oxford where she studied ‘Rowing with Biology’ to her becoming the youngest person to row solo across the Indian Ocean, we were given an insight into the challenges she has faced throughout her life, notably the sudden death of her father, an event which she says changed her attitude and made her more determined to succeed. It was great to see her inspiring so many students to try new things with her story of Gao, a man who cycled across China with her after never having ridden a bike for more than a few miles before and who later became a great friend. Through talking about being picked up in the middle of the Pacific by the coastguard after a hurricane, she encouraged us to try again if things go wrong and to make the best of a bad situation, as evidenced through her decision to kayak along the Aleutian Island chain when her boat was forced to change destinations from Canada to Alaska. Sarah was inspirational when talking about how the failures of her journeys have only made them better, as being forced to make a new plan or to start all over again took her to places she never planned to visit and taught her much more about herself than she could have learned if everything had gone well. Her heart warming story of being reunited with her boat, Happy Socks, that she was forced to abandon in the middle of the Atlantic, was proof that everything eventually turns out as it is supposed to.

Sarah really made the audience feel part of her adventures through her stories of recognising dreams and of taking advantage of failures, of finding oneself and of never giving up. She inspired many to imagine their own future journeys with her overwhelming message that we should never be afraid to ‘dare to do’, and we would like to thank her very much for providing such an inspirational and enjoyable evening.
Meirian Evans - Sixth Form Pupil

Pupils, parents and the local community are really looking forward to the next Mercers’ Lecture from Mariella Frostrup, on Tuesday 7 February. Mariella is a writer and broadcaster, firmly established as an intelligent and accessible commentator in a wide range of programmes and publications. She is currently best known as presenter of Radio 4’s long running weekly programme Open Book, and until recently presenter of Sky Arts “Mariella’s Book Show”.
All are welcome. Entry is free but please book online.

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