Leader of the Year Awards

Our annual Leader Awards recognise and celebrate inspiring Leaders from across the spectrum – from stand-out beginners to the highly experienced. Recipients are nominated and shortlisted by fellow Leaders and members of the British Exploring Society team with the final Awards being made by a judging panel, who look to honour spirit and well as skills.

We will be presenting two awards at the end of this season. The nominees for the 2019 Awards will be announced on this webpage in the lead up to our Celebration Evening in 2020, where the overall winner of the Awards will be announced. For now, you can take a look at the shortlist for our 2018 Leader Awards below. 

The Les Morgan Leader of the Year Award 2018 shortlist

The Les Morgan Award is to identify and celebrate consistent excellence in any area of Leadership, or to recognise an individual who has supported and helped develop their fellow Leaders, providing guidance and direction for them as well as for Explorers in preparation for and throughout their expedition experiences. 

‘...Dependable, hugely capable, and physically unstoppable, but caring for the explorers and their goals and abilities. Ever ready to” just do” his energy and love for us all is infectious across the whole expedition, mention his name and a smile spreads like wild fire.’

Formerly a member of the British Military, Geraint (Taff) took a turn into the area of remote expeditions across the world. He also has been a Personal Trainer, designing performance enhancing routines for individual people and sports. Geraint currently teaches climbing and mountaineering to people, trying to push their adventurous spirit. He also plans, prepares and executes short UK-based trips for underprivileged youth and helps people achieve their Bronze, Silver and Gold Duke of Edinburgh qualifications. Taff is now in Antarctica supporting scientists at the research station for 18 months.

‘Taff is an outstanding Leader and has demonstrated as such over a number of years with British Exploring Society. His technical skill and comfort in harsh mountain environments is unquestionable, his infectious cheer and enthusiasm is notorious, and his commitment to supporting his team – explorers and fellow Leaders alike is irrefutable.

‘Taff is simply a great guy. Under normal circumstances you don't realise that you're being led by him, he just feels like a good friend who happens to know the way forward. He keeps his calm even in the most difficult situations and is absolutely reliable, fair, and positive. Also, he does not take himself too seriously.’

‘Andy is an inspiring educator and expedition professional. Unphased by the challenges the expedition environment can throw at you, he is supportive towards colleagues and young people alike and can make the most thorny of training topics accessible.’

Whilst studying Earth Science at university, Andy spend a year poking volcanoes in Mexico and the Caribbean, which sparked what was to become a fascination with the lesser visited corners of our planet. Since then Andy has dedicated himself to off-the-beaten-track exploration, and has ventured into deserts in search of more volcanoes, led expeditions in East Africa, and spent a year living on one of the world's most remote islands. Andy is a Geography Teacher, Overseas Branches Commissioner for the Scout Association, and Ordnance Survey #GetOutside champion, who believes in the value of the outdoors as an educational environment. He has seen first-hand how young people are able to stretch themselves and develop when taken outside of the classroom and wants to ensure that as many young people as possible have the opportunity to do so.

‘Andy is one of those incredible people who can turn his hand to anything - translating for a meeting with community elders, digging latrines in wet clay soil amidst a fog of mosquitoes, managing casualties in a tropical storm, sharing his passion for mapping wild spaces and inspiring young people to greater heights. Without a doubt, he’s the person you want on your team in every expedition situation.’

‘Andy is a natural Leader & educator – equally comfortable and skilful working with a diverse range of young people as he is in the remote expedition environment. Andy’s ability to build rapport with his Explorers, and deliver engaging, informative and accessible sessions is outstanding. His commitment to youth development shines through and is consistently highlighted by his colleagues as a pleasure to work with.’

‘Expeditions can be physically and emotionally draining but, no matter how difficult things are, Lydia has an incredible ability to exude so much joy and humour that it is hard not to feel positive around her, no matter what the circumstances.’

Lydia has been an expedition leader since 2014 with experience across the Americas, Africa and Asia, and a speciality in jungle environments. She has led multiple expeditions in the Central American rainforest, including Expedition Leader and Expedition Medic training programmes. She is an experienced instructor in all things jungle, such as cave rescue, casualty evacuation, river crossings and shelter building; she also coaches presentation and leadership skills. Lydia has a PhD in Geography from Oxford University and spent several years as a strategy consultant. She believes strongly in the potential for outdoor adventures to motivate and inspire young people in all aspects of their lives.

‘Throughout the Amazon expedition, we all faced several challenges. The environment was particularly harsh, my fire were challenging and there were numerous medical emergencies that required hospital treatment. Lydia was at the forefront of dealing with all of these issues and the hard work she put in every single day allowed the expedition to continue without issue. Not only was she acting as DCL and TL Mentor but she also gave the leaders so much time on every occasion that we were struggling to coach us through our difficulties and offer advice from the huge amount of experience she has. I am really happy with how the expedition went overall and how I acted on it and, when I look back, I realise that is was because of a few crucial supportive conversations from Lydia that I was able to have such a positive experience.’

‘Without question, Lydia showed what it meant to be a senior leader on this year's expedition. As well as being DCL and TL mentor, Lydia often found herself joining evacuation parties back to Iquitos and managing the logistics and fall out that these evacuations created. Despite dealing with all of this (and dealing with her own period of illness) Lydia's professionalism never faltered, and she remained a steadfast sounding board for all of the other leaders on expedition, often fielding challenging questions and providing coaching and development opportunities for the rest of the expedition. Her resilience and professionalism were inspiring to observe, and without her I genuinely believe the expedition would have had a different outcome.’

‘Sue is the rock that anchors the whole expedition. She is a constant, reliable source of strength and stability.’

Sue is a keen traveller and believes in travel with a purpose, rather than just being a tourist. Her background is in operations management and previous expedition roles with BES and other youth charities have included Base Camp Manager with BES on their 2017 expedition to the Amazon, Deputy Operations Manager in Tanzania, and Logistics Manager in Namibia. She also trained for seven years as a front-line disaster rescue worker, equipping her for any event from earthquakes to floods to missing person searches. When not travelling, Sue loves to do CrossFit – a combo of crazy cardio, gymnastics and weightlifting – which keeps her in shape and her physiotherapist busy!

‘An exceptional individual. Sue really cares about everyone on the expedition and is a great source of comfort and security.’

‘Nando's enthusiasm for the outside world is infectious and inspirational: a great Leader.’

Fernando is a Spanish biologist with a PhD in Behavioural Ecology and a MSc in Animal Biodiversity. His research on animal behaviour has led him to work in Europe, Africa, Australia, and the Americas, in amazing places such as the rainforests of Trinidad &Tobago, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Baltic Sea, or Lake Tanganyika. When not working, he is also an outdoor enthusiast and keen adventurer, who loves rock climbing, mountaineering, hiking in search of fauna, and mountain biking through icy Nordic forests or scorching deserts. In 2013, he cycled 2000 km of dirt roads from the capital of Namibia to the southernmost tip of the African continent, the Cape of Good Hope.

‘This was Fernando's second season with British Exploring Society and first as Chief Scientist. As always, he applied his typical open mindedness and enthusiasm to everything he did, committing time and effort during the planning phases and working hard throughout the Yukon expedition to oversee valuable scientific learning for young people. Nandos universally liked by fellow leaders and as Chief Scientist this year began to take on a more supervisory role with his fellow science leaders. He also demonstrated his commitment to BES further by agreeing to participate in a post expedition recce at 24 hours notice - extending his travels in the Yukon a week after everyone else had left. His reporting on that recce may well prove decisive in BES’s plans for the future.’

‘Bruce is one of our most experienced Leaders and this experience shows through in everything he does. ’

‘What you can do is only restricted by what you believe’. Bruce was lucky enough to be brought up believing he could do anything he sets his mind on and at school managed a Young Farmer’s club, leaned to scuba dive and had his first experience of snow and ice on Ben Macdui. Skiing, climbing and mountaineering have been a major part of his life and he has taken at least two months each year from his professional life as a subsea engineering and project manager to do something adventurous. He has climbed in most of the major mountain ranges and in 2007 summited Lhotse.

Whilst on an adventure race to the North Pole he was contacted by British Exploring Society and he became chief mountaineer for the 2006 winter Svalbard expedition and later chief leader for the 2008 Falklands and South Georgia expedition. Since then he has supported various expeditions and led the 2016 expedition to Ladakh.

‘Bruce is one of our most experienced Leaders and this experience shows through in everything he does. During planning phases he is conscientious and meticulous, during delivery he is solidly and stoically unflappable and has proved to be so in all manner of high pressure situations and during debriefing he is reflective and proactive in making positive suggestions for moving things forward. When you first meet him you could be forgiven for thinking him perhaps a little understated but he inspires fierce loyalty in the leaders who have worked closely with him. He doesn't need to be the centre of attention and his leadership is not about supporting his own ego - what makes him tick is the opportunity to delegate to and coach the leaders within his team and support young people through transformative change. He has a heart of gold.’

Watson Emerging Leader of the Year Award in memory of Jean Sinclair 2018 shortlist 

The Watson Award is designed to recognise and reward emerging talent, or to identify new, additional or more senior leadership actions on the part of a Leader who may have worked with us for some time.

‘With every year that passes Cameron has grown in experience and his development as a leader is an inspiration to all.’

Since travelling to Ladakh as a young explorer with British Exploring Society in 2013, Cameron has developed a strong interest in expedition organising and has since led expeditions to Greenland, Tanzania and the Himalaya, alongside which he has produced several short documentary films and established environmental education projects.

He gained a BSc (hons) degree in Geography from the University of Glasgow and is currently studying an MPhil Polar Studies course at the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge. Cameron is keen to bring experience of expedition personal development and environmental change fieldwork to his fire and the expedition as a whole in the Amazon.

‘Cameron was absolutely dedicated to the wellbeing of his fire despite extremely difficult circumstances within the fire. He was conscientious, kind, inspiring and fun. As the medic I was involved in lots of his group's problems and saw what an incredible leader he was throughout. He totally went above and beyond the call of duty and has literally changed many YEs lives for the better.’

‘Cameron was absolutely dedicated to the wellbeing of his fire despite extremely difficult circumstances within the fire. He was conscientious, kind, inspiring and fun. As the medic I was involved in lots of his group's problems and saw what an incredible leader he was throughout.’

‘I can't think of many people who care about the people they are working with as much as Hannah.’

This was be Hannah’s third year with British Exploring Society, after joining the Trainee Leader programme in 2016. Whilst completing her BSc (Hons) in Sport and Exercise Science, she took part in an expedition to the Alps and this fuelled her drive to continue scientific exploration around the world. Whilst not in the office working on Parkinson’s Disease research, she thoroughly enjoys getting out on the hill, climbing a wall or planning her next adventure. She is particularly interested in looking at the physiological impact the immersive, tough and rather warm jungle environment has on the Young Explorers (and Leaders!) and how our bodies compensate for this.

‘Hannah has worked incredibly hard to improve her leadership abilities over the years. This summer she was faced with her toughest challenge to date and demonstrated an impressive commitment to the wellbeing of the young people in her care and determination to do her very best no matter what was thrown at her.’

‘Hannah was a huge part of the expedition for me. We faced a large amount of challenges...many of which I had never dealt with before. Out of everyone I have ever met doing expeditions I can't think of anybody I would have rather faced these challenges with than Hannah. Her constant support and patience allowed me and the whole Fire (group) to have such a positive experience of our time in the jungle. I can't think of many people who care about the people they are working with as much as Hannah. Even after four intense and exhausting weeks, Hannah remained so in tune with the diverse needs of our group and would not let herself go to sleep each night until she was sure each one of our young people was safe and healthy. Even though there were times at which the Young Explorers were not offering much positive feedback, she never gave up and I don't think there would have been as positive a vibe around our camp had she not acted in the way she did.’

‘Alice's professional work with young people really shone through in Canada, everybody knew we could rely on her.’

Alice is a keen adventurer whatever the mode of transport, be it on foot, bike or boats, journeying in the wilderness is the goal. Canoeing however is a firm favourite and Alice has undertaken several expeditions as a leader, with friends, and solo.

When not on expedition, Alice works full time as an outdoor educator for the Outward Bound Trust, taking young people on adventurous expeditions in Wales focusing on building confidence, resilience, and interpersonal skills. She is also studying part time for a Professional Doctorate, researching the judgement and decision-making processes of other outdoor professionals.

‘Sophie applied herself enthusiastically to everything she did this year. ’

Sophie trained as a doctor in St Andrews and Manchester and will qualify as a GP in London this year. She joined her first expedition at 17 with Brathay and ever since has been passionate about exploration and helping others to have similar experiences. She volunteers regularly at a summer camp for young people with disabilities and spent a year in the Alps working with young disabled skiers.

Her career interests lie in Global health and the impact of the natural environment on psychological well-being. She recently completed a year-long research and film project exploring the impact of community on mental health worldwide.

‘As Expeditionary year medic, Sophie applied herself enthusiastically to everything she did this year. Conscientious and committed, Sophie absorbed all the information she possibly could from British Exploring Society HQ through training and documentation and then went one step further to create her own resources for her expedition team in the form of a health and hygiene handbook for her young explorers. Her training sessions were interactive and engaging and her rapport with young people throughout was exceptional. She was a valued colleague by her Chief Leader and Base Camp Manager and I hope that this will be the start of an ongoing career with British Exploring Society.’

‘Cool, calm and empathetic. Knew how to get the best out of his team and guided them with understanding and clarity.’

Derek came all the way from Los Angeles for his first British Exploring Society adventure. He has a long-standing passion for exploration, which was sparked with multiple group backpacking trips as a young explorer in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. His exploratory fire was re-kindled with multiple trips, including a four-month ecological research trip to Malaysian Borneo and a two-month trek which crossed the entire High-Pyrenees mountain range. Derek is a guide and a teacher.

‘Luke is the ultimate chief medic - knowledgeable, experienced, approachable and equally tough or sympathetic depending on the needs of the situation’

Dr Luke Kane is a London GP with a love of travel, the natural world and pushing yourself to your limits. Before medicine at King’s College London, he studied biology at Oxford and specialised in Indonesian sea-urchins.

‘Luke was an absolutely brilliant addition to this year's Amazon expedition. As chief medic, his incredible professionalism and competence was never in question, but it was the way he approached his role and the relationships he forged with the YEs and the leadership team which I feel deserve recognition. With a pragmatism, calmness, and humour which put put everyone at ease, his approach to everything the jungle could throw at the expedition ensured that the expedition as a whole remained healthy and functioning when at times the difficult conditions could have made things grind to a halt. His positive outlook was infectious, and I hope I get the chance to lead with him again.’

‘Luke is the ultimate chief medic - knowledgeable, experienced, approachable and equally tough or sympathetic depending on the needs of the situation...and such a good laugh. He brings enthusiasm and personality to every task on expedition; I know our trip absolutely would not have been the same without him.’