• Phil Packer

Record-breaking aviator, adventurer and author, James Ketchell, joins the BRIT Ambassador family

We are delighted that James has joined our BRIT Ambassador family and is championing the annual BRIT Challenge to support and improve young adult and student mental health and fitness throughout the UK.


James is a record-breaking aviator, adventurer, motivational speaker, author and Scouting Ambassador. James is also an Ambassador for the children's charity Over The Wall.

James Ketchell - British Adventurer and UK Scouting & Over The Wall Ambassador

Having had lived experience of physical and mental adversity, and through my work with young adults as a Scouting Ambassador and working with schools, I can understand and appreciate the many mental health challenges faced by young adults and students. With the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to do all we can now to ensure young adults and students avoid suffering from long-term mental. I believe we need to do more to destigmatise mental health, be able to signpost anyone who needs support and know the signs so that we can help friends and make sure they do not feel isolated or alone.


Having supported The British Inspiration Trust (BRIT) and seen first-hand what they are striving to achieve, I urge UK universities, colleges, specialist colleges and Students’ Unions to embrace the annual BRIT Challenge and promote the opportunity to take part. The BRIT Challenge is a feelgood February fundraiser that has been designed to enable students and staff of all abilities to participate in. There are many ways to add distance to your team’s target including wheel-chair pushing, walking, jogging, running, cycling, hand-cycling, swimming, adaptive rowing, rowing or paddling.


All that universities and colleges need to do is enter a team in the BRIT Challenge and encourage participation throughout their institution. Teams can be a whole university or college, Students’ Union, campus, department or even a sports team; the idea is to encourage as many students and staff to take part as possible. Teams are invited to choose a second charity to raise funds for, alongside BRIT, to support local, regional and national charities. It would be great to see Vice-Chancellors, College Principals and Student Union Presidents completing the first of their team’s 2,022 mile target!


I am delighted to be part of the BRIT Ambassador family and look forward to encouraging and supporting students at Brunel University, London as they take on the BRIT Challenge. I also hope to encourage my fellow adventurers and explorers to join me as BRIT Ambassadors so together, we can encourage universities and colleges to take on the BRIT Challenge, destigmatise mental health and champion equality, diversity and inclusion”.


James Ketchell

Record-breaking Aviator, Adventurer and Author

It was an inauspicious start for James; in 2008 he was recovering from a serious motorcycle accident that had left him with broken legs and a severely broken and dislocated ankle. The prognosis was that he would likely suffer a permanent walking impairment and would certainly not be able to continue the active physical lifestyle he had so enjoyed.


Not all James adventures have been easy! He survived two mid ocean rescues and on one he found himself clinging to a rope ladder on the side of a 100,000-tonne oil tanker as he climbed to safety in storm force winds in the Indian Ocean. No stranger to overcoming adversity and dealing with obstacles, James’ lectures include the importance of risk management, personal resilience and dealing with setbacks.


Having spent much of his teenage years struggling with no ambition and very little confidence, leaving school with no qualifications and spending most of his early days in bed. James has spent the last ten years passionately working to inspire young people, as well as sharing his lessons learned with companies around the world.


On 1st February 2014, James became the first and only person to have rowed across the Atlantic Ocean, successfully summited Mount Everest and cycled 18,000 miles around the world, in what the media dubbed ‘The Ultimate Triathlon’.


James’ book, The Ultimate Triathlon was published in 2016.


In 2019 he flew his open cockpit gyroplane over 24,000 nautical miles circumnavigating the planet in 175 days to set the first Fédération Aéronautique Internationale ratified flight around the world, for an aircraft of its type. The mission was to inspire a million young people in classrooms over the world to pursue their own goals and dreams.

As a Motivational Speaker, James talks with candour and enthusiasm about his approach to taking on challenges and “without doing anything special” the way he has tackled physical adventures that most of us have only imagined experiencing.


He describes how he set incremental and achievable goals, how he secured sponsorship and support, how he physically prepared himself, and what experiences these challenges threw at him. As James tells his story, the listener will believe that they too could achieve the extraordinary.


As he neared the summit of Everest, James learnt that the last few hundred meters were completed a mere ten steps at a time, until the summit was in reach. With hindsight, this has been a metaphor for his success and the way he lives his life to the full.


To read more about James, please visit his website.


You can follow James on Twitter and Instagram.