Last week, one of the Crumble boys returned home from the Arctic Circle on Svalbard after the BSES expedition, on which he was a member, was cut short following the tragic death of Horatio Chapple.
Putting aside for a moment the events leading up to Horatio's death, which are under investigation, I'm struck by the stark difference between the actions that day of one group of youngsters and others back in the UK who chose to riot, steal, attack and vandalise.
The two group leaders of the sub group involved in the polar bear incident, (my boy was not part of that group), acted with great courage to protect their team and eventually kill the animal. Having suffered grievous injury their lives were then saved by the others in the group who gave life-saving first aid for an hour and called in help from base camp. Without the actions of all, the casualty list would have been much worse.
Some commentators have criticised the young explorers for being over privileged kids on a jaunt. Typically that's wide of the mark by a country mile, the truth is that the vast majority of the expedition members spent more than a year raising funds to pay their way, as they are encouraged to do by the BSES. Most, if not all, are accomplished outdoorsmen for their age and have a spirited love and respect of the countryside and wilderness. They are the future guardians of the outdoors.
Also worth noting is that the BSES take a number of under priviliged teenagers on expeditions. In fact, there is one traversing some mountains in Norway at the moment which is due to sail back by tall ship. The BSES is only limited in it's outreach by it's relative small size and available funds but it most definately is not a closed shop.
For the Chapple family, there are no words that can lessen the wretched and anguished pain of loss. Locally, we remember Olivia and David, (from when they lived in Haslemere), as being warm, happy and hospitable people. On the very few occasions that I met the young Horatio, (and he was very young at that time), I recall him being a feisty wee thing, bless him.
I offer these words then, from Lawrence, for Horatio and all lovers of the outdoors.
"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible."