Ray Mears shares inspiring stories of survival at Southend’s Cliffs Pavilion and Ipswich Regent
- Credit: Archant
Ever wondered how you’d cope in a real crisis? Maybe better than you think says bushcraft expert, survivalist, author and TV presenter Ray Mears.
“It’s different for every person, that’s what’s really interesting. We’re told all the time in the media you have to have been in the special forces or have to have had a big knife in your teeth, wear camouflage, big boots, not shave for four days to be able to survive - that’s not true. Some of my stories are about the most humble unassuming people who have done the most remarkable things.”
His new show Tales Of Endurance comes to the Palace Theatre, Cliffs Pavilion, Southend, on March 5 and Ipswich’s Regent Theatre on March 8. It explores what makes a true survivor and also includes the chance to quiz Mears himself.
“Throughout my career I’ve come across a number of stories that have inspired and lived with me. One of these is of a young airman who found himself lost in the Australian outback with four other colleagues during the Second World War. After 196 days he was the only one still alive - and he didn’t even have a campfire.
“When you hear these stories your heart goes out to these individuals. You inevitably ask ‘how did he manage that?’ That’s what’s intriguing and I think it’s surprising what we learn when we explore some of these stories.”
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Ingenuity and adaptability play their part. The key element? Sheer determination, says Mears, who’s currently recording TV series Wild Australia.
“All of those things are helpful but at the end of the day why does somebody come back? Because they choose to. What motivates that choice can vary enormously from individual to individual. We all have latent abilities we can harness sometimes, but I think at the end of the day a lot of it’s to do with our psychological state of mind at the time and our determination.
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“Our ability to find humour in times of adversity and to motivate ourselves by focusing on returning to our loved ones is astonishingly powerful. Stripped bare by adversity, survivors cling to the most fundamental emotions, instincts and human qualities. This in its own way can be an instructional guide to living outside of adversity. There’s (a bit of) luck involved always, that we can’t deal with.”
He hasn’t included any of his “scrapes”.
“It’s not about me. You do have encounters, we all do in our lives and you just deal with them and you move on. These stories, most of them are just remarkable and stand out head and shoulders above anything I’ve done.”
Mears, whose new ITV show Wild France will air later this year, believes the remote places he visits are no more dangerous than you crossing your local street - as long as you’re prepared.
Once you are, you start to see wild places as home.
“I’m also going to talk about things we should all know to be safer in our daily lives, particularly if we’re going into wild places or anyone going on a gap year. You get a lot of people now in their early 20s inspired to adventure, to set out to remote places. That’s great, but there are a few things I’d like them to know so if something did go wrong they still come home to tell their tales.”
Looking forward to devoting more time to these tales than the format of TV allows, he adds: “They’re not all stories of success, I have to tell you that. But they are all stories that are inspirational and have definitely influenced my thinking on a whole range of topics. They certainly make you think ‘if that person can do it I can deal with this’.”