Jan is an accomplished After Dinner, Motivational and Conference Speaker with ten years experience and an impressive client list.
Jan achieved fame in 1997 by rowing 3000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean in 101 days in a 23 foot wooden boat, with her son Dan as her team mate. For this, she achieved her first Guinness World Record.
Then in 2007, the pair were united in adventure once again when they became the first mother and son team to reach the Magnetic North Pole by foot, hauling their sleds 350 miles across the worst ice conditions for years.
In talking about her amazing adventures with her son, Jan is a powerful and charismatic speaker. Witty and entertaining, she describes her exploits with humility; and she discusses her unique relationship with her son with tenderness. She is an inspiration to those who hear her speak.
Jan has packed an enormous amount into her life so far:
- In her twenties, she worked in the British Film Industry alongside stars such as Roger Moore and Sammy
- Jan has owned and run several businesses, and has represented small business and businesswomen on the
Heart of England TEC.
- Jan is a former Mayor of Chipping Norton, and was the Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce.
- She is a Guinness World Record holder for crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a rowing boat with her son.
- Jan also holds a Guinness World Record for reaching the Magnetic North Pole by foot – also with her son.
- Jan and her son are featured, with photographs, twice in the 2008 Guinness Book of Records – only Tony
Blair shares this honour!
In 1997 only 22 people had ever rowed an ocean, and six had died trying. Jan didn’t let these statistics, or the fact that she had never set foot in a rowing boat in her life, put her off. When her son asked her to join him for the first ever ocean rowing race, she seized the moment.
They were very much the ‘Heath Robinson’ team, setting off with a £30 camping stove, no satellite phone, just a hand pump for water, and only one set of foul weather gear between the two of them! The intrepid pair went on to spend 101 days at sea in their tiny wooden rowing boat, crossing over 3000 nautical miles. In doing so, they set a World Record as the first mother and son team to row any ocean.
Ten years later, in 2007, they achieved another record as the first mother and son to reach any Pole by foot when they walked and skied 350 nautical miles to the Magnetic North Pole. Surviving Polar Bears and temperatures as low as -68o C, they reached the Pole in 24 days; during which they faced the worst ice conditions for years, slush and open water, and a near catastrophic tent fire which almost ended their adventure with disaster! Guinness World Records were so impressed they delayed printing the 2008 book to include the intrepid pair.
More people have been in space than have rowed an ocean or walked to one of the Earth’s Poles. More people have walked on the moon than have done both.
Jan is a superb inspirational speaker and topics include: Motivation, Teamwork – how to overcome challenges and obstacles, Ocean-Rowing, Polar Racing, Personal goal setting, leadership and problem solving – or just a very entertaining story to entertain you after a good lunch or dinner!
“Jan Meek was the only MC we’ve had to silence the baying crowd; her brief life story inspiring many attendees, Then she handled the awards ceremony with superb aplomb. She maintained a lively pace throughout and managed to make the awards hour seem like a few minutes. Jan is a natural and looks the business too!” Bernard Carey, CIPR Treasurer, Thames and Chilterns Branch. (The Chartered Institute of Public Relations)
Areas of Expertise
Jan’s story is multi-layered.
It is a tale of human endeavor. She was neither a rower nor a sailor before embarking across the Atlantic, and she had no Arctic experience before setting out to the Pole. She and her son proved that ordinary people are capable of the most extraordinary feats if they believe in themselves.
It is also a tale of human relationships. Few mothers and sons get to really know one another as friends and companions the way that Jan and her son did, during 101 days at sea and 24 days on the Arctic icepack. And by taking his mother with him, the responsibility Dan felt to bring her back safely was almost overwhelming. Before the Atlantic row, an entrant from Germany summed it up when he said to Dan: “I think perhaps you have the most precious cargo of all on your boat.”
Jan firmly believes that we’re all in charge of our own destinies, and it is the challenges that we turn away from in life that we most regret. The most important factor in taking control of your life isn’t how strong or clever you are – it’s your attitude. Whatever your challenge is, in your work or your home life, if you believe in yourself you can succeed. With the right mental attitude, anyone can cross their ocean, reach their Pole, or climb their own personal Everest
Matthew Willetts MA is the Director of Comicus who has over 35 years experience in television, film, theatre, and comedy club/cabaret entertainment, working as a performer, screenwriter, producer and agent. He lectured at Southampton Solent University in Comedy, Screenwriting, Television, Theatre & Radio. Matthew can sometimes be seen and heard on TV & Radio and often quoted in the national press and media publications. As well as speaking regularly at festivals and industry conferences, he has been a judge at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Montreux Television Festival.
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