<p>Gap work: Prince William on a Raleigh International project in Chile in 2001 </p>

Gap work: Prince William on a Raleigh International project in Chile in 2001

Raleigh International: Adventure charity with royal connections closes down

Raleigh International ‘ceased operations on 19 May 2022 and will be entering Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation’

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Friday 20 May 2022 11:41
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Raleigh International, an adventure charity specialising in gap year projects, has closed down.

The London-based organisation took volunteers aged 17-24 – who raised funds to pay for the opportunity – on projects at locations around the world.

It had been running for 30 years, during which Prince William and Kate Middleton took part in development projects in Chile.

A statement on its website reads: “Raleigh International Trust ceased operations on 19 May 2022 and will be entering Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation.

“A meeting of creditors is being convened for 16 June 2022.”

The City firm Carter Backer Winter LLP (CBW) is handling the charity’s affairs.

A spokesperson for CBW said: “”he charity’s expeditions and programmes were significantly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and associated overseas travel restrictions. Its fundraising abilities – individual as well as corporate donations – were also negatively affected by reductions in the UK government’s overseas funding, recent events in Ukraine and the current cost-of-living crisis.

“Unfortunately, despite the cost-cutting measures put in place throughout Covid-19, the overall loss of income is such that the charity has been unable to recover from the pandemic’s impact and Trustees were advised that the charity is insolvent and unable to continue operating.

“As the charity has effectively ceased trading with immediate effect, all 47 staff have subsequently been made redundant and future expeditions cancelled.

“The charity is mindful that volunteers who have paid funds to the charity will be understandably concerned about the status of these funds and legal advice is being sought in this regard.”

It is not clear what will happen to bookings made by prospective volunteers. Because payments from volunteers to Raleigh International technically took the form of fundraising, there appears no direct contract to supply services as would exist in a normal travel transaction. The Atol scheme does not apply.

In addition, participants were required to buy their own flights – which now serve no obvious purpose.

Raleigh International’s roots extend back to 1984, when Operation Raleigh was launched to take volunteers on expeditions aboard two ships, Sir Walter Raleigh and Zebu. It then moved to land-based projects and changed its name.

Becky Barnes, now a journalist at The Independent, said: “I am absolutely devastated to hear Raleigh International is no more.

“I went to India in 2011 for an amazing, life-changing 10-week programme.

“I didn't have a job after university and they were offering a bursary scheme for graduates who didn't have jobs, so I jumped at the chance to spend time in India as part of some post-university travels.

“I showed up on my own and immediately became fast friends with new people from the group of like-minded, energetic young people ready for adventure.

“The project involved three weeks of environmental work, three weeks with a community and a gruelling three-week trek, with a few rest days in between.”

Prince William spent part of his Gap Year between school at Eton and St Andrew’s university working on a voluntary building project in southern Chile in 2001.

The charity had an excellent reputation, though it was sometimes criticised for the cost of its expeditions.

Participants were told: “You will be set a minimum fundraising target [which] represents the minimum amount of money that you must raise for us in order to secure a place on the expedition.”

Esther Shaw wrote for The Independent in 2008: “Many ‘gappers’ opt to learn new skills in developing countries by volunteering for community or environmental projects, such as those run by Raleigh International.

“But be warned: even a trip such as that could quickly run into thousands of pounds. So, between poring over guidebooks and scouring the web deciding where to go and what to do, devote some time to working out how you are going to finance your travels.”

The television documentary maker Ben Crichton recalled his experience with Raleigh: “The intensity of the friendships I forged and interaction I had with the Namibian desert have never been matched.

“I remember the sadness of reaching the ocean for the last time with a sea fog swirling around. Four of us prolonged it with a road trip down from Windhoek to Cape Town. There were treasured moments, tinged with the pervasive sadness that it would end.”

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