Driven - May 2018

Land Rover 70th Year Anniversary Expedition

70 years of Land Rover – Kingsley Holgate Expedition

Many of the motoring launches we attend usually include plush hotels, top food, and of course, a brand spanking new vehicle to review. And as comfortable as these launches can be, this just isn’t the right way to celebrate 70 years of heritage, innovation and the iconic Land Rover brand.

70th Year Land Rover Exhibiton

If we think back to the first ever defender in 1948, to the modern era 2018 Discovery, we can see that these vehicles are so much more than just a means to travel from A to B. The reality is however in the city, many of the 4×4 vehicles we see on the road, have never graced any kind of surface which can be considered as proper off-road terrain.

Speak to those who have gone off-road and many of them will tell you just what a fantastic experience it can be. But as much fun as off-roading, and traveling across borders is, some expeditions have a more serious side to them, one with a bigger picture in mind. I had an opportunity to learn more about those expeditions, as I joined Land Rover and the Kingsley Holgate Foundation for the last few days of their Land Rover 70th-anniversary expedition.

The Kingsley Holgate foundation focuses on conservation and education throughout Africa. Part of their primary tasks are rhino conservation, an initiative called  Rite to Sight, water purification and malaria prevention. As we arrived at a village in Shakaland, I experienced a glimpse of the great work they take part in.

Many children from the local primary school lined up, each with their own Rhino art they produced after receiving education around Rhino conversation. It was wonderful to see the many different expressions from each and every child and it was heart-warming to see the importance being placed on educating the next generation.

This was followed by the one sport which speaks the most languages, football. The aptly named black rhino and white rhino teams played against each other with the man of the match winning a bicycle. After trying to display my skills in the warm up, I didn’t crack the starting 11, but being asked to judge the “man of the match” award was a true privilege and the talent on display made that job very difficult.

While the young were catered for with a simple sack of air, the older ones from the village were not forgotten with the Rite to Site campaign. Many from the local area who struggle with vision queued up to have their eyes tested and then received glasses from the amazing Kingsley Holgate team.

70th Year Land Rover Exhibition

While this expedition was fairly local, Kingsley and his team take to the dusty roads of Africa and spread this love and education far and wide. What is their literal driving force during these trips? Land Rovers – a brand which over 70 years has evolved into one of the major players in the SUV and 4×4 market. At the 70th year exhibition, were Land Rover’s from all ages, including one model which had driven from London to South Africa, as well as the owner that did it many moons ago. With all these vehicles in one place, tackling the same terrain, you can really see the evolution of the brand. 70 years on, Land Rover now sell some of the most capable 4×4 vehicles, with the added benefit of luxury and technology.

While for many they are just a way to do the school and work commute in style, for organisations such as the Kingsley Holgate Foundation, they are so much more. For the foundation and others doing impressive community work in these cars, these vehicles and the brand, have greatly assisted in providing much-needed help and assistance throughout Africa. This is the bigger picture, which was amazing to see – even though it was a small glimpse.

A starry night, some “Captains and Coke”, a bonfire and endless expedition stories was the perfect ending to understand what Kingsley and his team get up to. I walked away realising that this is a team that loves the work they do, and really are true adventurers. Well done to Land Rover for 70 years of innovation and well done to the Kingsley Holgate Foundation for their fantastic work. We wish the whole team all the best on their next expedition.


Also published on Medium.