The Away Team Backed by the Dangoor family, a host of young people are being given a chance to spread their wings
The Away Team
Backed by the Dangoor family, a host of young people are being given a chance to spread their wings
The Exilarch’s Foundation
WE WERE REFUGEES to this country. When we left Iraq in the 1960s, we had to leave everything behind. But we were able to start again in the UK, so when my father Naim Dangoor’s business flourished, he felt there was an opportunity to give back.
I remember when I was eighteen, I had just passed my driving test and I borrowed my parents’ car. On my way home I ran out of petrol. I was in the middle of nowhere, with no money. Someone stopped behind me, took a can of petrol from his boot and poured half of it in my car. I was embarrassed to have no money and asked how I could repay him. He said: ‘Buy yourself a petrol can and do the same for someone else.’ Sometimes what you’re trying to do when you give is just repay the good that was done to you.
David Dangoor (centre) with his father Naim and Prince Charles
This was one of the reasons we were attracted to the British Schools Exploration Society’s (now known as the British Exploring Society) Next Generation Programme: it was a way of giving young people the opportunity to contribute. The programme allows young people who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity the chance to take part in BSES expeditions. Some of these young people have only ever heard negative things about themselves. They don’t know how potentially capable they are, and how far they can go, until they are tested to the limit.
Having to work in a team, rely on one another and know that people are depending on them opens their eyes to how important they can be to others. And this can give them such a feeling of confidence and self-worth.
It’s quite eye-opening, meeting the young people after their expedition. Until you see it for yourself, you wouldn’t credit it — the change is so great. It makes you realise that it’s very easy to judge people negatively and unfairly when they have a lot of potential.
There are so many children who are never given the chance — and we have to change this. We must do this for the benefit of the society in which we live. Otherwise, we’re all losers.
Alumnus of the Dangoor Next Generation Programme 2012
MY CARE WORKER from the charity Catch 22 first introduced me to the Dangoor Next Generation Programme. She suggested it because I’d been unemployed for a long time and I wasn’t really doing anything. It seemed a completely new experience, so when I got a place I was over the moon.
We started off with training — first a weekend in Brighton at a scout camp, and later a week in Devon. I’m really quite a nervous person when it comes to meeting new people. But as I got used to everybody, the nerves went and I realised I could enjoy myself.
My final expedition was a three-week desert trek through the Sinai peninsula. On our first night there, we dragged out our sleeping mats to sleep under the stars. The whole transition of going from this populated society in the UK to such an empty but beautiful place was breathtaking — a really good feeling.
James Bates (far right) with his expedition colleagues
The real high point for me was when we climbed to the top of this huge mountain. At the top you could just see this large expanse of desert, with mountains in the distance. I remember looking out and thinking, ‘Wow, I’ve really achieved something fantastic.’ And at that point, all my worries just left me. It’s hard to even explain what it was like getting to the finish point, knowing what we’d all achieved. I ran ahead with some guys, and we lay down and kissed the road.
The training and expedition brought out qualities in me that I never knew existed. I’ve always been very laid back, very shy, and always felt quite low, but going across the desert brought out my leadership qualities; I was always there for members of my team. I became more outspoken, too, more confident and flirtatious. I came back after that feeling I could pretty much achieve anything.
After getting back in July, with the help of the programme I got some volunteering at the Olympics, and on my third day there I was offered a job working in security. I think I’ll be for ever thankful for this opportunity. I’d really love to meet David so I can shake his hand and thank him.