Adventurer Ketch's life lessons

News DofE

James Ketchell, the first and only person to complete the “ultimate triathlon” of rowing across the Atlantic, climbing to the summit of Mount Everest and cycling 18,000 miles round the world, was guest speaker at the annual Duke of Edinburgh’s Award presentation in Great Hall.

James, known as “Captain Ketch”, amused and inspired his audience with his account of how he had “pushed the limits”. He had taken on challenges after a serious accident ended his motorbike racing career. Overcoming his fear of failure, he set off to achieve his dream of rowing the Atlantic. He gave an exhilarating account of the perils and natural wonders of his successful voyage. He followed this with his Everest climb, completing his mission despite suffering a lung infection which left him hospitalised afterwards. Then he embarked on his round-the-world cycle trip, during which he raised eyebrows by cycling a rickshaw in Delhi and was given emergency treatment by a kindly dentist in the USA.

He described the ups and downs of his adventures with masterly understatement, explaining how he had gained valuable insights even when things were going badly wrong. An attempt to row the Indian Ocean with a friend who has epilepsy ended in a dramatic rescue by an oil tanker. Undeterred, “Ketch” is planning further adventures and has just published a book, The Ultimate Triathlon

While modestly saying, “I’m just a storyteller”, he highlighted the valuable life lessons he had learned and which he wanted to pass on. People could achieve their goals if they kept going, as they would make the breakthrough just at the time when they were ready to give up.

“Ketch” presented dozens of pupils with their Bronze, Silver and Gold awards and signed copies of his books afterwards.

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