British Exploring Society Leader Awards 2018

The British Exploring Leader Awards recognises and celebrates inspiring leadership (whether still developing or hugely experienced) individual skills, and collegiate spirit before, during and after each of our expedition seasons.

We will be presenting two awards at the end of this season, The Les Morgan Leader of the Year Award and The Watson New Leader of the Year Award in memory of Jean Sinclair. These are professional awards, bestowed by colleagues; Leaders and members of the British Exploring Society team. Individuals are shortlisted on the basis of nominations, with the final Awards being made by a judging panel.

The Les Morgan Leader of the Year Award is supported by his family with a generous donation. Les was a well loved and respected Leader for British Exploring Society and since he sadly passed away in 2004 his family have kindly supported our explorers and leaders with a number of Award’s and bursaries. The Watson New Leader of the Year Award in memory of Jean Sinclair, has been set-up to celebrate our first time Leaders and has been named after our recently retired Chairman Teddy Watson.

The nominees for the 2018 Awards will be announced on this webpage once our expeditions return from the field, with the overall winners being announced at our Celebration Evening in 2019.


Why lead with us?

85% of British Exploring Leaders said they were better at their day job as a result of volunteering with British Exploring. Find out more about why our Leaders lead with us here. 

Les Morgan Leader of the Year Award 2017 winner - James Dyer 

"Receiving the Les Morgan Leader of the Year Award means that I can stand up and champion these amazing colleagues, that return year on year to volunteer their time to make British Exploring Society’s expeditions happen, as a Chief Leader this helps make your job much easier." Read more.

The Watson New Leader of the Year Award 2017 winner - Sue Brown

"As a leader you get the opportunity to push boundaries you didn’t realise existed, be part of an amazing team, learn so much about who you are as a leader, make friends who will light up your life and lastly but by far most importantly play a part in shaping our future generations. Life doesn't get much better than that." Read more.

The Les Morgan Leader of the Year Award shortlist 2017

"Tony's caring nature and measured approach makes him an exemplary leader for British Exploring. He was able to make young people within his group feel safe and valued, ensuring they were able to take personal risks, have difficult conversations and grow."

Tony has been an Adventure Leader on four previous British Exploring expeditions: India Himalaya 2015, Namibia Bound (DCC) 2014, Namibia BE 2014 and India Himalaya 2013. Tony has the summer ML qualification and is on the leader’s panel for Ramblers Worldwide Holidays (RWH). He regularly leads RWH groups in Jordan, Italy, Morocco, Costa Rica and the UK. Tony also organises his own trips and expeditions. Tony worked in the oil industry for 23 years up until his retirement in 2011. He is a volunteer archivist for the British Exploring and a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

"What a corker of a leader. I'd find him cracking jokes with the young people and remarking on how terrible his hair was during this year’s expedition, whilst patting his partially bald head he'd ask to borrow my mirror and gasp at the reflection which would crack me up. This is the kindest man I have ever worked with. He is genuine and unflappable, he knows his craft and is truly consistent throughout."

"Jennie took on senior leadership roles in 2 very different expeditions in 2017. She is hugely capable, adaptable, happy to have her own views challenged and able to work with different teams and different objectives equally successfully. She has handled a wide range of challenges this year with real aplomb."

Jennie studied BSc Environmental Science and Geography (Bradford) and MA Countryside Management (Bangor) then worked as a rights of way and access development officer before retraining as a geography teacher in 2009. Preferring the outdoor classroom, Jennie spent five years working for the Field Studies Council as a Tutor and Senior Tutor in various locations across the UK. Jennie now works freelance, mixing the world of outdoor pursuits with environmental education. Jennie has led on previous expeditions with BE: Arctic Finmark and Indian Himalayas; and also took part in BE’s Arctic Skills Training in Svalbard.

"Jennie gives a huge amount of time and energy to the society and should be commended for doing so. She is a brilliant example of how leaders can grow and develop taking on the role of Chief Leader this year. She always approaches challenge with enthusiasm and intelligence."

"Never phased and always adapting her approach. Jennie brings a smile to every situation."

"As always, Sarah was a breath of fresh air on the trip. Her thoughtful qualities during any situation is exceptional. As well as performing her Chief Medic role, she could easily take the place of any member of the team should the need arise."

Sarah’s passion for the outdoors and travel began at a young age, always seeking adventures and grasping any opportunity to explore new places. Since qualifying as a doctor Sarah has combined her love for exploration and medicine. Sarah holds diplomas in both tropical and mountain medicine. She has worked worldwide, providing medical cover to groups trekking, climbing, kayaking, cycling and even for those running the Everest Marathon. When not away on an adventure, Sarah can be found working as an Emergency Medicine doctor.

"Sarah carries ridiculously heavy loads, hauling far more than her fair share of water, rations and medical kit up the hills. She's utterly selfless and self-effacing and is ALWAYS the last to eat (and you strongly suspect has smaller portions too). She's hugely supportive towards both fellow leaders and also YEs, provides wise guidance or a joke when needed, and never forgets it is the youngsters' trip, not ours. She is a fixer - whether through her personal or medical skills or the countless jellybeans that've helped so many legs get up the hills."

"Without resorting to an overtly dictatorial style, James created an environment in which everyone could do their best work. His style was nurturing, questioning and motivational, and always had the well-being of the YEs at heart, ensuring they had as transformational an experience as possible."

James is an experienced and professional expedition leader, and is also British Exploring’s Expedition Training and Leadership Advisor.He has set up and led expeditions and adventurous projects across the world for a wide range of client groups from young people, adults, scientists and TV production companies. His background is in outdoor and adventurous sports coaching and instructing, and he has been involved in developing young people and expedition leaders for nearly 20 years.James is looking forward to Chief Leading the 2016 Amazon expedition and developing interesting and exciting projects and activities in the jungle with this year’s explorer team.

"For the second year running, I have had the honour of being lead by James as my chief leader. He provides every member of the expedition with confidence, drive and a sense of adventure. His encouragement for science and adventure is driving and provides everyone with a sense of purpose. He is given the utmost respect by both the young explorers and his leaders an in turn he is able to produce a successful, safe and scientifically adventurous expedition."

"This is one leader who has taught me so much during my time working on the Dangoor Next Generation Project. So far he's committed 4 years to the project and made incredible changes ensuring the young people have a safe and unique life changing experience."

This was Tom’s fourth DNG expedition with British Exploring and second as Chief Leader. Tom works as a paramedic currently in Essex. Prior to this, he spent 12 years working with young people both in the outdoors and as the manager of a residential service for looked-after children in the Lake District.

"Totally down to earth. Thoroughly pragmatic and focused."

"Alex was the glue that held our expedition together. There were so many things that the expedition would not have been without her hard work, and cheery attitude. Her unbreakable focus was always directed towards the expedition running not just smoothly, but enjoyably too."

Alex has a background in logistics and operations, working in professional sport and the humanitarian aid sector. She has worked on various disaster relief and international aid projects, such as Team Rubicon UK’s response in Haiti and regional outposts of Save the Children International. Alex’s travels began at a young age, with most family holidays spent in the back of an old VW campervan hunting for windsurfing, hiking and ski spots. After university, she began her career in logs and ops, switching the mountains for oceans and supporting professional sailing teams. Having spent most of her life on the move, she’s no stranger to working abroad in challenging environments and acting as the general ‘fixer’.

The Watson New Leader of the Year Award shortlist 2017

Fernando is a Spanish biologist with a PhD in Behavioural Ecology and a MSc in Animal Biodiversity. He studies animal behaviour, communication and conservation, with a focus on the challenges that climate change is already creating for biodiversity.

When not working, Fernando 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.

"With his infectious excitement, endless knowledge and pure passion shining through every day of expedition, Fernando is an inspirational leader. He was a joy to work with and happily provided young explorers and fellow leaders insight into his wealth of environmental and conservational knowledge, fuelling our own scientific adventures. His openness in personal development and learning was humbling whilst also supporting his young explorers and their own journey of personal development through their expeditions."

"Fernando is one of the most energetic and enthusiastic people I have ever met, his passion for science is contagious, and the YEs fell in love with field biology through this passion, and opened their eyes to the true biodiversity the jungle had to offer - a brilliant science leader!"

Ruth is an experienced Mountain Leader and full-time outdoor professional. She is the Chief Instructor at CMC Adventure where she has gained extensive experience working with young people in challenging outdoor environments.

She enjoys inspiring young people to take an interest in the geography surrounding them whilst on their outdoor adventures. Ruth has previously led expeditions in Borneo and Snowdonia, North Wales, where she has lived and worked for the past 10 years. Ruth holds qualifications in Rock Climbing, Sea Kayaking and Sailing, and is an Accredited Practitioner of the Institute of Outdoor Learning.

"Ruth Campion was completely committed to allowing the YE's explore and learn at their own pace, and had a huge wealth of games and reviews with which to keep pushing the learning forwards. She was stretched herself to make sure that the exceptionally able YE's that we had, were always being appropriately challenged. But the bond that she built not only with her YE's but also the School Leaders, (not an easy dynamic to manage) was superb."

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 roles on other organisations expeditions have included Deputy Ops 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 has discovered Crossfit – a combo of crazy cardio, gymnastics and weightlifting – which keeps her in shape and her physiotherapist busy!

"Sue's commitment and hard work towards the success of this year's Amazon expedition started long before the expedition departed. She worked tireless throughout the planning phases, thinking creatively to solve problems and making improvements to process as she went along. She is authentic, enthusiastic and unflappable with all the time in the world for her fellow leaders. Conscious at all times that base camp needed to be a home from home for the Amazon team, her contribution to the wellbeing of everyone on the expedition cannot be over-estimated."

"Without Sue and her wonderful Basecamp our 2017 Amazon expedition experience would have been very different. From her humorous, patient and encouraging interactions with the YEs as they arrived and departed and trouped through to re-stock, to her omnipresence as a supportive mentor for all in base camp, Sue was truly at the beating heart of the expedition. Her hilarious sense of humour, manifesting magnificence, master-chefery and basecamp karaoke prowess were key to the success of the expedition. And she doesn't even like jungles!"

Andy is a geography teacher, Overseas Branches Commissioner for the Scout Association, and Ordnance Survey #GetOutside champion, who believes strongly 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 has dedicated himself to off-the-beaten-track exploration, and has ventured into deserts in search of more volcanoes, led expeditions through the mountains and savannahs of East Africa, and spent a year living on one of the world’s most remote islands.

"Andy was a fantastic role model throughout the expedition. He showed a vast range of knowledge and enthused others and his passion for the outdoors was at the heart of all he did."

"Andy epitomises the BES style of leadership, a teacher, facilitator, with good experience and a personality geared towards getting the best out of his team and those he works with. Along with is co leader he dedicated himself to giving his group of YEs the best possible expedition, he committed fully to their development, their projects, and facilitating their learning. He is knowledgeable and has a real and evident passion for educational expeditions."