Dan Byles

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Dan Byles
Dan Byles MP.jpg
Member of Parliament
for North Warwickshire
In office
6 May 2010 – 30 March 2015
Preceded byMike O'Brien
Succeeded byCraig Tracey
Personal details
Born (1974-06-24) 24 June 1974 (age 45)
Hastings, East Sussex, England
Political partyConservative
Spouse(s)Prashanthi Reddy

Daniel Alan Byles FRGS (born 24 June 1974[1]) is a British politician, ocean rower, polar adventurer, mountaineer, and sailor. He was the Member of Parliament (MP) for North Warwickshire from 2010 to 2015, but did not seek re-election in the 2015 general election.

In 1997 he took part in the first ever Atlantic Rowing Race, the Port St Charles Barbados Atlantic Rowing Race, 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 together with team mate Richard Profit, walked and skied 350 nautical miles (648 km) from Resolute, Nunavut to the Magnetic North Pole in 20 days and 5 hours.[2] He holds two Guinness World Records. Byles is married to Prashanthi Reddy, and they have two daughters.


Warwick School

Byles was born in Hastings, East Sussex, but 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.

Military career[edit]

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.

Adventures and expeditions[edit]

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.

Major mountaineering expeditions[edit]

Atlantic rowing race 1997[edit]

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 row 3,044 nautical miles (5,637 km) from Tenerife to Barbados in their boat Carpe Diem. Departing on 12 October 1997 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;[3] and at 53 Meek became the oldest person at the time to row any ocean,[4][failed verification] although since 2005 this record was surpassed by Pavel Rezvoy (66).[5]

Atlantic rowing race support yacht 2005[edit]

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.

Polar race 2007[edit]

Ten years after their 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 nautical miles (648 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 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.

Charities and organisations[edit]

Returning to the UK after rowing the Atlantic, Byles’ achievement was recognised when he was made a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

Byles was a founding trustee of The Carpe Diem Trust, a charity aimed at helping ordinary people to undertake extraordinary achievements. He no longer holds this position.

In October 2008, Byles became the main sponsor of the Bedworth United F.C. Youth Team, in order to support community youth projects involving sport.[6]

In December 2013, Byles was made a President of The Young People's Trust for the Environment.[7] for his work in Parliament on environmental and energy issues.[8]

In July 2015, Byles became Chair of the not-for-profit Clean Air Alliance.[9]

Political career[edit]

Byles in 2013

In 2007, Byles stood as the Conservative Party candidate for Leicester City Council in Stoneygate ward.[10]

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.

Byles was elected by 54 votes at the election on 6 May 2010 after defeating the incumbent MP Mike O'Brien, and served as Member of Parliament in the House of Commons until May 2015. He had the smallest majority of all Conservative Members of Parliament during the 2010–2015 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.[11]

Byles was a member of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee and the Science and Technology Select Committee. During his time in Parliament Byles served on the Public Bill Committees of several major pieces of legislation including the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and the Energy Bill 2012 -2013.

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?"[12]

Byles was, in 2011, rated the best looking male MP in the House of Commons;[13] he was quoted saying "It’s flattering and a little embarrassing … Thanks to everyone who voted for me. Politics can be so boring sometimes so I think it’s great to inject a bit of fun into it."[14]

Byles came out as a strong opponent of the controversial High Speed Rail project HS2, pledging to vote against his Party's policy by voting against HS2 in Parliament.[15] He subsequently did so at all stages of the High Speed Rail Bill.

In November 2012, Byles became chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Environment Group, which serves to raise awareness of environmental issues to both Houses.[16]

In May 2014, Byles became the founding chairman of the All Party Smart Cities Group.[17]

Also in May 2014, Byles made history when his Private Members Bill passed into law, becoming the House of Lords Reform Act 2014. The Act allows members of the House of Lords to retire or resign, which was previously constitutionally impossible. It also makes provision for the first time to exclude members who commit serious criminal offences resulting in a jail sentence of at least one year, and members who fail to attend the House for a whole session. It is unusual for constitutional reform to succeed through the mechanism of a Private Members Bill, particularly on such a controversial topic.

As of October 2016, 53 Peers have taken advantage of the "Byles Bill" and retired or resigned from the House of Lords, and 4 have been removed for non-attendance.[citation needed]

In July 2014 Byles announced that he would not stand at the next election as "it was time to pursue new challenges." [18]

After Parliament[edit]

In September 2014, Byles announced that he would be joining the senior leadership team of the award winning technology company Living PlanIT.[19]

In July 2015, it was announced that Byles would chair a new industry led smart city trade association called SmarterUK.[20][21]

Guinness world records[edit]

In 2006 Byles and his mother Janice Meek were belatedly awarded a Guinness World Record certificate for being the first mother and son team to row any ocean in 1997/8.[3]

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.


  1. ^ "Dan Byles MP". BBC Democracy Live. BBC. Archived from the original on 12 September 2013. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  2. ^ [1] Archived 1 May 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b "guinness records ocean rowing". Oceanrowing.com. 18 September 2006. Archived from the original on 28 September 2011. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 February 2007. Retrieved 12 May 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ "List Of The Youngest And Oldest Oceanrowers And Teams Rows Completed". Oceanrowing.com. Archived from the original on 10 November 2011. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
  6. ^ Steve Evans (29 October 2008). "News – North Warwickshire News – Dan up front with support". Coventry Telegraph. Archived from the original on 3 October 2011. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
  7. ^ "Our Team | Presidents, Trustees and Staff | Young People's Trust For the Environment". Ypte.org.uk. Archived from the original on 4 July 2017. Retrieved 2 May 2017.
  8. ^ "MP Dan Byles honoured for his work on energy and environmental issues". Tamworth Herald. 18 January 2014. Archived from the original on 23 January 2014. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  9. ^ "Clean Air Alliance UK launched in Parliament". LinkedIn. 26 June 2015. Retrieved 2 May 2017.
  10. ^ "Detailed Results for Stoneygate ward". Leicester City Council. Archived from the original on 9 May 2010. Retrieved 8 July 2010.
  11. ^ Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons, Westminster (3 June 2010). "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 3 Jun 2010 (pt 0016)". Publications.parliament.uk. Archived from the original on 14 October 2012. Retrieved 4 November 2011.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  12. ^ "Prime Minister's Question's minutes 20th October 2010". Hansard. Archived from the original on 24 October 2010. Retrieved 15 January 2011.
  13. ^ "Do you think I'm sexy? MPs are given ratings". Halifax Courier. Johnston Press. 2 June 2011. Archived from the original on 31 March 2015. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
  14. ^ Dimmer, Sam (1 June 2011). "Revealed: How sexy are Coventry's MPs?". Coventry Telegraph. Trinity Mirror. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
  15. ^ Patrick Burns (20 February 2011). "Patrick Burns's blog: HS2: a PS from Politics Show viewers". BBC. Archived from the original on 30 July 2011. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
  16. ^ "Register of All Party Groups – see Page 302" (PDF). Parliament. 9 November 2012. Archived (PDF) from the original on 16 December 2012. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  17. ^ "Where next for UK Smart Cities?". Centre for Cities. 17 September 2014. Archived from the original on 17 January 2016. Retrieved 2 May 2017.
  18. ^ [2]
  19. ^ "About". Living PlanIT. Archived from the original on 13 May 2017. Retrieved 2 May 2017.
  20. ^ "Smart cities sector to launch new Smarter UK trade body". M.businessgreen.com. 3 July 2015. Archived from the original on 17 January 2016. Retrieved 2 May 2017.
  21. ^ "Dan Byles: soldier, MP, smart cities pioneer". M.businessgreen.com. 3 July 2015. Archived from the original on 17 January 2016. Retrieved 2 May 2017.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Mike O'Brien
Member of Parliament for North Warwickshire
Succeeded by
Craig Tracey