Georgetown, Guyana (December 14, 2017) First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger, this morning, accepted the honour of becoming the patron of an expedition on the Essequibo River by a group of three British young women. Ms. Laura Bingham, who leads the eight-week expedition, along with Ms. Phillipa “Pip” Stewart and Ms. Ness Knight, were represented at a meeting with the First Lady by expatriates Mr. Ian Craddock and Ms. Sophia Hauch, who are based in Guyana and are providing logistical support for the event.
During the meeting, which was held at State House, the First Lady was told that the three-woman team aims at becoming the first recorded people in the world to ever explore the River from its source to its estuary, in inflatable canoes. They hope to embark on this expedition between February and March 2018. Mrs. Granger said that she is impressed by the women’s bravery and expressed the hope that they will safely complete the expedition.
“I have to applaud the ladies because that is a hardy river to traverse. It’s our biggest and mightiest river in terms of the current, the rapids and the different types of falls [along the channel] … I’m sure that it will be very exciting… I’ll be happy to see it happening in Guyana because, as I said, think it’s a great thing for young women to see other young women embarking on an adventure that is out-of-the-box,” she said even as she called on the team to ensure that every safety procedure necessary is put in place,” she said.
Mr. Craddock assured the First Lady that the requisite safeguards are being put in place for the excursion. He said that he and Ms. Hauch are working closely with the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission to create the topography maps, which the team will be guided by, and that the adventurers will be equipped with Global Positioning System (GPS) trackers, which will allow them to be followed by satellite. He said that the team is also benefiting from support from the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, which has provided the necessary permits for the expedition, Air Services Limited, which has agreed to ensure that a medical evacuation plane (Medivac) will be on standby during the expedition, and support from the Protected Areas Commission. Further, he said, the women will be accompanied by two members of the Wai-Wai tribe during the course of the adventure.
Meanwhile, Ms. Hauch said that the First Lady’s support of the expedition is very important as the team plans to “document everything [that] they see along the way… and hopefully we’ll be able to follow them along their route”. She also said that the team is considering inviting local women adventurers to join the team for all or part of the journey.
Each member of the three-woman team has travelled extensively across Central America, Malaysia and in the United States of America. Ms. Bingham has sailed across the Atlantic and has cycled unsupported across South America and Ms. Knight is the first woman in history to swim the River Thames. Ms. Stewart has cycled 10,000 miles through 25 countries from Malaysia to London and has travelled 3,000 miles by bike, boat and plane to explore Brazil and Peru to raise awareness about environmental issues in the region. She intends to chronicle the adventure in a book titled “Running the Essequibo”.
The women’s interest in Guyana stemmed from Ms. Bingham’s husband, Mr. Ed Stafford, who once travelled here to work as the camp logistics manager for the Discovery Channel’s during the filming of “Lost Land of the Jaguar”.