Debra Searle MVO, MBE is a truly inspirational woman. A professional adventurer, author, BBC presenter and serial entrepreneur, Debra first hit the headlines when she set out to row across the Atlantic with her husband. Unfortunately, he had to be rescued so Debra, a novice rower, continued alone and rowed 3000 miles from Tenerife to Barbados. It should have taken them six weeks but, to achieve her goal, Debra ended up spending 3 ½ months at sea alone, encountering 30′ waves, sharks, and force 8 squalls in her 23 foot plywood boat.
Debra’s expeditions have included sailing around Antarctica, racing in the Monte Carlo Rally in a 1957 Alfa Romeo, various L’Etape du Tours, The Vogalonga in Venice, and becoming the first Briton to complete the gruelling Yukon River Quest with good friend Bruce Parry. She went on to lead a group of women known as The Sisterhood to a new World Record for Dragon Boating across the English Channel. This particular adventure created huge media interest in the UK due to a rather famous teammate – Kate Middleton, now the Duchess of Cambridge. In Spring 2015, Debra and her company combined her two passions for adventure and gender equality by organising and leading an all-female team on an expedition in the Arctic Circle. She has also represented Great Britain at European and World Championship level in Dragon Boat Racing winning bronze, silver and gold medals.
Despite poor performance at school, Debra found a way to tap into her potential and graduated from university with 1st Class Honours, going on to found four companies. She started her first company, a dot-com, at the age of 23 and second at 27. More recently Debra founded MIX Diversity Developers – a Diversity and Inclusion consultancy. She was also a founding member of the Women’s Business Network Forum, which gathers together Heads of Women’s Networks from across major corporations in order to share best practice in D&I, meeting at Buckingham Palace.
Debra has regularly presented for the BBC, with credits including Grandstand, Extreme Lives, and Builders, Sweat and Tears. She is now one of the most prolific female speakers on the European circuit and has spoken worldwide to over 1000 companies, as well as speaking at events such as TEDx. She has also published two books and is an occasional newspaper feature writer.
Debra’s spirit of adventure gained her an MBE from Her Majesty the Queen and she was delighted to be appointed a trustee of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in 2003, the youngest and only female trustee working alongside His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh and His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex. Debra has been appointed Member of the Victorian Order (MVO) for her services to the Award.
In 2018 and 2019 Debra will be making frequent trips to Hollywood as the movie telling the story of her Atlantic row is currently in development. Watch this space for more news about Debra on the silver screen!