Olly Hicks was the first and youngest person to row solo from the USA to the UK in 2005. A challenge that had already claimed four lives, Olly spent 124 days alone at sea battling the elements, rowing across the North Atlantic from New York to the Isles of Scilly. Then, setting the ultimate challenge to become the first person to row around the world - it took three years of planning and fundraising for the 18,000 mile, 20-month trip from Tasmania to South Georgia where he would overwinter and then continue through the Southern Ocean back to Tasmania - he set off for the Virgin Global Row in 2009. Disappointingly, it had to be abandoned after “only” 96 days because of boat problems, but Olly became the first person to row the Tasman Sea, from Tasmania to New Zealand. Olly’s sole focus now is to try again, in the Global Row 2015.
In August 2011, Olly kayaked from Holland to Suffolk, recreating the gruelling journey in memory of the Engelandvaarders, young Dutchmen who tried to escape from Holland to England by kayak during World War II to join the allied forces. Of the 5 boat team only 2 completed the non-stop journey of 118 miles.
In the summer of 2015, Olly will attempt the world record challenge of the first kayak journey from Greenland to Scotland, covering some 1,200 nautical miles in around 6 weeks as he follows the migratory route of the Atlantic salmon, raising funds for the RNLI.
In 2006, he received the Peter Bird Trophy for tenacity and perseverance and was awarded first prize at the Moscow Film Festival in the adventure category. In 2007 he was highly commended as a young philanthropist by the Beacon Fellowship Charitable Trust in recognition of his work with Hope and Homes for Children and for raising over £160,000 for charity.
Olly is witty and understated. He gives a fascinating insight into what drives him to achieve his goals and the lessons he has learnt along the way – lessons about project management, team work and the importance of being good at maths. How Olly deals with fear and loneliness, success and failure, will resonate with audiences from all walks of life.
“Olly had the audience’s attention from the very start, right to the very end. Olly was very motivational in a subtle way – rather than encouraging the audience to be motivated by saying ‘you should do this because I have achieved all this’, the audience were motivated on their own which I think is a sign of an excellent speaker. We would definitely recommend Olly for other events.”
“It was a great evening. Olly was superb and all the people that attended enjoyed his speech”
Marshall’s Park School
“Olly was exactly what we wanted. He gave an amusing and interesting insight into his personal achievements and his determination to succeed. He was extremely pleasant and polite and captivated the audience with his presentation. I would not hesitate to recommend him to others and would like you to pass on our thanks to him for his contribution to a successful evening”
Surrey County Council