Raleigh International, an adventure charity specializing in gap year projects, has closed.
The London-based organization took volunteers aged 17 to 24, who raised funds to pay for the opportunity, on projects in locations around the world.
It had been running for 30 years, during which time Prince William and Kate Middleton participated in development projects in Chile.
A statement on its website reads: “Raleigh International Trust ceased operations on May 19, 2022 and will enter into voluntary liquidation of creditors.
“A meeting of creditors is convened for June 16, 2022.”
The City firm CBW is handling the affairs of the charity.
It is unclear what will happen to bookings made by potential volunteers. Because volunteer payments to Raleigh International technically took the form of fundraising, there appears to be no direct contract to supply services as there would be in a normal travel transaction. The Atol scheme does not apply.
Additionally, participants were required to purchase their own flights, which now serve no obvious purpose.
The roots of Raleigh International go back to 1984, when Operation Raleigh was launched to take volunteers on expeditions aboard two ships, Sir Walter Raleigh Y Zebu. He then moved on to land projects and changed his name.
Becky Barnes, now a journalist at the independentsaid: “I am absolutely devastated to hear that Raleigh International is no more.
“I went to India in 2011 for an amazing 10 week program that changed my life.
“I didn’t have a job after university and they were offering a scholarship scheme for graduates who didn’t have a job, so I jumped at the chance to spend some time in India as part of some post-university trips.
“I introduced myself and immediately made friends with new people from the group of energetic and like-minded young people ready for adventure.
“The project involved three weeks of environmental work, three weeks with a community, and a grueling three-week hike, with a few rest days in between.”
Prince William spent part of his gap year between school at Eton and St Andrew’s University working on a volunteer construction project in southern Chile in 2001.
The charity had an excellent reputation, although it was sometimes criticized for the cost of its expeditions.
Participants were told: “A minimum fundraising goal will be set [which] it represents the minimum amount of money you must raise for us in order to secure a place on the expedition.”
Esther Shaw wrote for the independent in 2008: “Many ‘gappers’ choose to learn new skills in developing countries by volunteering for community or environmental projects, such as those run by Raleigh International.
“But be warned: even a trip like that could quickly cost thousands of pounds. So, between poring over guidebooks and scouring the web to decide where to go and what to do, spend some time figuring out how you’re going to finance your trips.”
TV documentarian Ben Crichton recalled his experience with Raleigh: “The intensity of the friendships I forged and the interaction I had with the Namib Desert have never been equaled.
“I remember the sadness of reaching the ocean for the last time with a swirling sea mist. Four of us extended it with a road trip from Windhoek to Cape Town. There were treasured moments, tinged with the pervasive sadness that it would end.”