Richard Bristow
Back to alumni stories

Richard Bristow - Devon on Ashburton, 1966

Life changing?... It certainly was!... Still valuable today?...Definitely!

I was working for Barclays Bank DCO in London, when I was sent to an Outward Bound course in Devon, 1966.

The course was varied and challenging.

We were told in solemn terms that our time with Outward Bound would change our lives and it certainly did!

Years later, when I reached management level in the bank and when challenged with really difficult situations, I often drew strength from my Outward Bound experience. Working in nine different countries, far away from the support of Head Office in London, I often had to fend for myself. I had many rich and character forming experiences with Outward Bound at Ashburton, but I believe the most valuable of all was, 'there is always more in you than you think'.

It is possible that Outward Bound was particularly relevant in those days, when self esteem was not often encouraged at home, school or work; when subjugation, obedience and total respect for authority and tradition were required.

And yet even today, perhaps because there is the opposite, where there is often no firm guidance for young people when growing up, that maybe Outward Bound would help them make wiser choices and stronger commitments. Further, in a society where the State is at pains to protect its citizens from the risks of life, youngsters need Outward Bound to show them they are capable of addressing and minimising unforeseen risks themselves.

Perhaps, then, there is after all, as great a need as ever for Outward Bound to encourage taking of responsibility for oneself, taking vital decisions and seeking opportunities to assume leadership roles.

It was an enormously valuable experience in the 1960s and I truly believe it will continue to be in the future. The course awoke the adventurer in me, who still persists to this day - last year I travelled to the Ukraine on my motorbike, and still at the tender age of 62, I still ski, walk in the wilds and cycle regularly.

(Richard kindly posted us this story and we have uploaded it to the website with his permission.)