The Malta Independent 21 August 2019, Wednesday

From boyhood adventures in Senglea to leading expeditions to the four corners of the world

Helena Grech Tuesday, 30 January 2018, 14:09 Last update: about 3 years ago

Philanthropist, explorer, entrepreneur and former army officer, Justin Packshaw was raised in Malta and has gone on to be one of the world’s most respected adventurers. He has led a remarkable list of expeditions, including to both the North and South Poles, has reached the summit of Mount Everest, ridden horses across Mongolia and sailed for Britain in the Whitbread round-the-world yacht race. Several of these trips he has done in the company of wounded soldiers from the British Army.


Packshaw sat down with The Malta Independent on Sunday and described how his can-do attitude and love of adventure started from his time in Malta. He moved to the sunny island when he was just one-year-old and this was his home until he was a teenager. He still spends a few months in Malta every year with his family and, as he says: “This is really my home and I absolutely love it here.”

He arrived in Malta with his parents and three siblings in 1966 and originally lived in Senglea. Struck with a sense of nostalgia, he recalls that, in those days, they were able to anchor his parents’ yacht right outside their house, opposite Fort Saint Angelo. He recalled many fond memories of exploring Malta’s countryside on his bicycle, riding horses with his sister, Amanda, and spending most of his time living in and by the water.

Through the support of his intrepid family and the experiences and life-skills acquired in his early years, Packshaw has spent much of his life journeying to rarely inhabited parts of the globe and, on the back of this, has raised fantastic awareness and millions of pounds for important social and environmental issues. He says: “I have always felt that it is important to try and give something back, to have a conscience and stand up for something that you believe in.”

It all started, said Packshaw, when he was about 13 and one of the family dogs became very ill, resulting in his mother having to fly specific drugs in from the UK to keep him alive. To help with the cost, he and a good friend sailed a little Mirror 10 dinghy around the island to try and raise some money and, rather to their surprise, they did – and a seed was obviously sown.

Today he calls it the ‘art of fulfilment’ and is quick to point out the immense satisfaction one gets from being accountable and bringing like-minded individuals together to try and make a difference. His concept is about trying to get people to think big, challenge assumptions and create a vision that is bigger than the current reality.

Asked which charitable organisations he supports, Packshaw replies that he has always been a strong advocate for empowering people to reach their full potential – whether this is the young of today or wounded military personnel. Through this, he has been involved with some exceptional organisations such as The Princes Trust, The Duke of Edinburgh Awards and Walking with the Wounded. He is also a strong advocate of protecting, nurturing and highlighting the importance of looking after our environment, particularly our oceans, and is a strong supporter of UNICEF’s Turn the tide on Plastics campaign.

Having attended school in both Malta and the UK, Packshaw went on to serve in the British Army for eight years where he was involved throughout the first Gulf War in 1990-91 and was Equerry to a member of the Royal Family. He is currently the managing director of the award-winning luxury brand, De Roemer, which he started in 2008 with his wife, Tamsin de Roemer. As if he is not busy enough, he also spends a lot of time flying around the world speaking to businesses on subjects such as ‘The Science of Achievement’, ‘Leadership’ and ‘Adaptive Thinking’ and has also delivered a fascinating TEDx talk.

While he was in Malta recently, following his latest expedition to Antarctica that raised £700,000 for young entrepreneurs, the innovative local digital marketing company Growth Gurus seized the opportunity and co-ordinated a talk by Packshaw on some of his stories. Slightly cautious about the idea of hearing a talk on achieving excellence, this newsroom sat down with the ‘larger-than-life’ character before the talk and it became apparent that his whole idea is to open people’s eyes and belief-system about one simple principle: step out of your comfort zone, strive to be your best and go and follow your dreams.

He believes in the simple idea that having an ambitious vision that may seem out of reach in a person’s current reality really propels the human spirit to exceed its own expectations. Just believe and then act. Understanding that not everybody is given the same opportunities in life, Packshaw is deeply passionate about the benefits that an ambitious spirit can achieve, be it in terms of business, one’s own personal life or in trying to make the world a better place.

Apart from planning his next ambitious adventure – along with running his business, giving talks and spending time with his wife and children – Packshaw is also working hard on his next book which is about his last journey to the South Pole and is due to be published in May.

Instagram – JustinPackshawTalks

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