1978 - Operation Drake

Colonel John Blashford-Snell and HRH Prince Charles launched Operation Drake, running youth projects from ships circumnavigating the globe, to develop self-confidence and leadership through adventure, scientific exploration and community service. In 2 years 414 young people took part in the round the world voyage, working on land-based projects in 16 different countries.


1984 - Operation Raleigh

Following the success of Operation Drake, the much more ambitious Operation Raleigh was created. This started as a 4 year project running from 1984 -1988 involving 4,000 volunteers and almost 1,600 staff. The volunteers and staff sailed on the renovated Sir Walter Raleigh ship and Zebu ship as well as taking part in land based expeditions. Its success saw it continue permanently, with an emphasis on land-based expeditions.


1992 - Raleigh International

Operation Raleigh became Raleigh International in 1992, reflecting the number of volunteers from across the globe. We widened the diversity of volunteers by raising the relevance and quality of our overseas expeditions and raising issues of global awareness.


Raleigh International today

Today, our volunteers make up a global community of more than 40,000 people committed to building a sustainable future.

We deliver sustainable development at a grassroots level, bringing transformational change to people’s lives in poor rural communities. Our programmes focus on providing access to safe water and sanitation, protecting vulnerable environments, building resilient communities and inspiring young leaders. Our work is delivered with, for and through diverse teams of young people in partnership with local communities and organisations. We aim to empower and motivate these communities and young people to drive positive change that will last throughout their own lifetime and that of future generations.