COLONEL JOHN BLASHFORD-SNELL OBE DSc (HON) FRSGS John Blashford-Snell, the son of an Army chaplain, was born in 1936 in Jersey and later educated at Victoria College before entering the RMA Sandhurst. Commissioned into the Royal Engineers he served in the army for thirty-seven years and saw active service in many areas.
In 1968 Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia invited the British Army to send a team to explore and make the first descent of the Blue Nile. John Blashford-Snell was commissioned to select, train and lead the 60 strong party. The success of this immense expedition led to even more challenging assignments such as the first crossing by vehicle of the complete Darlem Gap in 1971-2 and, in 1974-5, navigating almost all the 2700 miles of the great Zahe River. Both these ventures had great environmental, scientific and medical objectives. As a result of organizing and leading over sixty expeditions John Blashford-Snell has achieved a reputation as a practical field engineer and one of the world's best known and highly regarded explorers. His innovative method of negotiating rough white water in inflatable boats is now an established world-wide sport.
In 1969 he, together with a team of colleagues, formed the Scientific Exploration Society, the aim being to foster and encourage scientific exploration worldwide.
In 1978 Operation Drake was started. This was a project that involved organising 400 young people from 27 nations to work with scientists and servicemen in 16 countries. The venture was a great success and was followed in 1984 by the much larger Operation Raleigh. By 1992 over 10,000 young men and women from 50 nations had taken part in challenging and rewarding expeditions all over the world.
John Blashford-Snell has received a number of awards in recognition of his work and they include the Segrove Trophy, the Livingston Medal, presented by the Scottish Geographical Society, and the Patron's Medal, presented by the Royal Geographical Society.