The conference, on November 25, was split into three sections focusing on life stories, growing your career and taking the lead. The day was aimed at helping and inspiring young achievers in travel on their way to being the industry’s leaders of the future. It also showcased some of the former success stories from TTG’s 30 Under 30 initiative.
In January 2000, Ashby was deployed to Sierra Leone as a military observer with the UN peacekeeping forces stationed there, tasked with disarming the rebel fighters from the Revolutionary United Front led by Augustine Gbao.
However, the situation became hostile and the house where Ashby and two fellow British officers and a New Zealander officer were captured and held hostage. After a narrow escape, they sought refuge at the Kenyan army outpost where they helped defend the camp against several days of attacks.
Eventually a decision was taken to escape through the jungle. Fighting dehydration and hunger, the four men survived close encounters with the enemy and, assisted by local tribesmen, were eventually rescued by the British Army.
After returning, Ashby was awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal. The story of his escape is narrated in one episode of the documentary series Banged Up Abroad.