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James Ketchell

James Ketchell James Ketchell

On 16th May 2011 James Ketchell reached the summit of Mount Everest.  Nearly a year previous to that James had rowed single handed across the Atlantic Ocean. Three years prior to that he was recovering from a serious motorcycle accident that left him with broken legs, a severely broken and dislocated ankle and the prognosis that he was likely to suffer a permanent walking impairment and would certainly not be able to continue the active physical lifestyle he had enjoyed up to that point.

James talks with candour and with enthusiasm about his response to that challenge and the way he has – in his words – without doing anything special set about physical tasks that most of us can only imagine experiencing.  He describes his approach to these extraordinary tasks, how he continuously set incremental and achievable goals, how he drew upon a capacity for making and cementing contacts to secure the necessary support, how he prepared for and experienced the physical effort these challenges demand.  As he tells his story the listener finds it easy to believe that they too could achieve the extraordinary.

James is also passionate about the places he has been and the people he has met and talks with knowledge and affection of their lives, culture and beliefs and of the debt he owes them, particularly with respect to the Sherpas who assisted him on Everest and who were instrumental in helping him back off the mountain when he succumbed to a severe lung infection on the descent.

The key messages that James brings are that we can set ourselves and achieve difficult goals and that the capability to succeed is within everyone.  His practical and pragmatic lessons include the importance of interim goals, breaking the task down into small, achievable steps each one of which increases the commitment to the overall goal; the need for self belief; the willingness of others to help if only you dare to ask and of the value of persistence.  As he neared the summit of Everest he learned that the last few hundred meters are completed ten steps at a time.  Ten steps – rest – ten steps – rest - until the summit is achieved.  With hindsight, this has been the secret of his success to date and it is an approach that he will need to continue as he prepares for his next challenge in 2013 when he will attempt to break the record time for cycling solo and unsupported around the world.

James is building a portfolio of speaking experiences through his contacts in the Adventure Experience industry and with those corporate bodies who provided financial support for the Atlantic and Everest challenges.  To date these events have been to audiences numbering from [40 to 50] to corporate events with audiences in the hundreds. 

Key points covered:


•    Why do it?  What motivates James?  What could motivate you?
•    Organising and logistics – the need for a network; the value of persistence; setting intermediate goals
•    Setting the context – just how hard is it to cross the Atlantic/Summit Everest – and how is it done
•    Places and people – it’s a big and interesting world out there and there is nothing better than the personal experience
•    Rising to the challenge – what happened, what went wrong, what went right
•    The rewards – what it feels like to achieve your goals – supported by stunning pictures and video from the Atlantic and the summit of Everest
•    Helping others – what others can learn from this and how James look to support others through his endeavours

Avis UK

"James is an engaging and exciting speaker.  His story is a unique one combining personal challenge, adventure, adversity and achievement.  I can thoroughly recommend James as his story is authentic and relevant to a business audience whether large or small.  He leaves you to draw your own conclusions in a witty and often understated way, which makes it all the more appealing and different.  James is not your typical motivational speaker, but rather a very motivated speaker!"

Anthony Ainsworth
Commercial Director
Avis UK


St Mary’s University College

“James came to speak at the recent staff development event for staff from the School of Human Science at St Mary’s University College. He gave an extremely interesting and entertaining account of his recent single-handed row across the Atlantic and his summit of Mount Everest. His relaxed presentation was illustrated by a breathtaking series of photographs and a selection of fascinating anecdotes.

His talk had broad appeal and captivated the administrative and academic staff within the team and many commented that it was ‘inspirational’ and it certainly was an excellent way to start our academic year, illustrating what can be achieved through sheer determination and will power.”

Ann Kennedy
Chair Staff Development Committee
School of Human Sciences
St Mary’s University College


UK Scouts

“The mark of a competent speaker is their ability to connect to their audience. I have seen James speak on two occasions to a mixed audience of adults and teenagers and he has a great ability to connect and inspire his audience. I was also impressed with James’s ability to work to the brief I gave him and use his words and style to meet my communication targets.

Often speakers who are highly motivated are so focused and driven that they are not approachable and flexible. James has the unique trait of being motivated and focused but is also extremely approachable and personable”

Simon Carter
Assistant Director
The Scout Association

Speaker's Bureau Profile - James Ketchell

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