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|Dan Byles MP|
|Member of Parliament
for North Warwickshire
6 May 2010
|Preceded by||Mike O'Brien|
24 June 1974 |
Hastings, East Sussex, England
Daniel Alan "Dan" Byles FRGS MP (born 24 June 1974 in Hastings, East Sussex) is an English mountaineer, sailor, ocean rower, polar adventurer and Conservative Party politician. He is currently the Member of Parliament (MP) for North Warwickshire, having been elected at the 2010 general election.
In 1997 he took part in the first ever Atlantic Rowing Race, the Port St Charles Barbados Atlantic Rowing Race, successfully crossing the Atlantic Ocean unsupported in a 23-foot (7 m) wooden rowing boat in 101 days with his mother Janice Meek. In 2007 he and his mother were united in adventure once again when, together with team mate Richard Profit, they successfully walked and skied 350 miles (563 km) from Resolute, Nunavut to the Magnetic North Pole in 20 days and 5 hours. He holds two Guinness World Records. Byles is married to Prashanthi Reddy. In June 2011 Byles and Prashanthi announced that their first child, a daughter, had been born.
Byles spent his early childhood as an expatriate in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia before returning to England at age nine to the Cotswold market town of Chipping Norton. Helped by a government funded scholarship, the Assisted Places Scheme, Byles attended Warwick School. Active in the Combined Cadet Force, Byles made an early decision to follow a career in the Military when he won one of ninety Army Sixth Form Scholarships awarded by the Ministry of Defence that year.
After completing A Levels in 1992, Byles took a year out. He spent some time working in his parents’ restaurant before travelling to Southeast Asia to backpack through Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. During this trip, he spent a month studying Vipassana meditation at the Wat Ram Poeng Buddhist monastery in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand.
Returning to England in 1993, Byles was awarded one of thirty Army Cadetships, a university scholarship scheme no longer open to non medical/dental students. He attended the University of Leeds from 1993–1996, where he earned a 2.1 BA Joint Honours in Economics and Management Studies, becoming the first member of his family to attend university. In 2007 he was awarded an MA in Creative Writing from Nottingham Trent University.
Following university, Byles attended Commissioning Course 963 at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, where he won the Defence and International Affairs Essay Prize. Initially commissioned into The Light Infantry Byles later accepted a Regular Commission with the Royal Army Medical Corps as a Medical Support Officer. Immediately after graduating from Sandhurst, Byles was granted six months leave to row across the Atlantic (see below).
During almost nine years of service, Byles served overseas in Germany, the Falkland Islands, Cyprus and Kenya, and operationally in Kosovo and Bosnia. From 2002 to 2004 Byles was a staff officer in the Ministry of Defence. At age 27, Byles was the youngest serving Major in the British Army. Byles left the military in 2005.
Byles has taken part in expeditions all over the world including Africa, Canada, Bavaria, the Alps, Peru, Bolivia and Borneo. He has also sailed extensively in eastern Australia, SE Asia and across the Atlantic.
In 1995 Byles was asked by a school friend to join him in entering one of the first Atlantic Rowing Races. He accepted, but his friend subsequently had to withdraw from the team. Byles asked his mother Janice Meek to be his team mate instead. Despite neither of them being rowers or sailors, she accepted and they went on to successfully row 3,044 nautical miles (5,637 km) from Tenerife to Barbados in their boat Carpe Diem. Their unsupported crossing took 100 days, 18 hours and 57 minutes. The story of their adventure has been recorded in at least three Chicken Soup for the Soul books.
In rowing across the Atlantic, the pair achieved two Guinness World Records: they became the first mother and son team to row any ocean; and at 53 Meek became the oldest person at the time to row any ocean, although since 2005 this record has been held by Pavel Rezvoy (66).
In 2005, Byles lent his experience to a new generation of ocean rowers when he joined the crew of the support yacht Aurora for the 2005 Atlantic Rowing Race, spending 76 days at sea during the worst conditions yet experienced by an ocean rowing race as a result of Hurricane Epsilon. An unprecedented 19 boats capsized during the race, with six quitting as a result of unrepairable damage.
Ten years after their successful ocean row, Byles and his mother set two additional world records in the Arctic in 2007. The mother and son team, along with team mate Richard Profit, took part in the Polar Race 2007 in April 2007. This involved walking and skiing 350 miles (563 km) from Resolute, Nunavut in Canada to the Magnetic North Pole. They survived the worst ice conditions for years, a near catastrophic tent fire and areas of open water and slush to successfully reach the Pole in 20 days and 5 hours. In doing so they set a new world record as the first mother and son team to reach any Pole by foot, and Janice Meek became the oldest woman to reach the Magnetic North Pole by foot.
Returning to the UK after rowing the Atlantic, Byles’ achievement was recognised when he was made a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.
Byles is a founding trustee of The Carpe Diem Trust, a charity aimed at helping ordinary people to undertake extraordinary achievements.
On 8 March 2007, Byles was selected as the Conservative Party's Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for the North Warwickshire constituency at the 2010 general election. He was selected at an open primary. He was elected by 54 votes at the election on 6 May 2010 after defeating the incumbent MP Mike O'Brien, and is serving as Member of Parliament in the House of Commons. He has the smallest majority of all Conservative Members of Parliament.
He gave his maiden speech in the Commons on Thursday 3 June 2010 when he spoke about Nicholas Chamberlaine, the Atherstone Ball Game, and his intention to campaign for better rehabilitation and mental health care for military veterans and reservists.
Byles is a member of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee.
At Prime Minister's questions on 20 October 2010, Byles asked Prime Minister David Cameron the following:
"Last week, I joined a parliamentary delegation to China, where I was able to pick up a copy of Chairman Mao's Little Red Book. Is the Prime Minister interested to learn that Chairman Mao said: 'Thrift should be the guiding principle in our government expenditure'? If Mao Zedong supports coalition policy, does that not mean that the Labour party is in a minority of one?"
In May 2011, Francis Boulle, a British IT entrepreneur, received considerable press coverage for establishing the website called sexymp, which allows visitors to rate the attractiveness of members of the House of Commons. Byles was at one point rated the best looking male MP in the House of Commons.
In November 2012, Byles became chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Environment Group, which serves to raise awareness of environmental issues to both Houses.
In April/May 2007, Byles and his mother Janice Meek became the first mother and son team to walk/ski to any Pole. In the 2008 Book of Guinness World Records, they are featured on pages 94 and 96. In the 2010 book, they are featured on page 101 and are included in the photo montage on the opening pages.
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