Our Chief Leaders are instrumental in delivering the amazing expeditions we are known for at British Exploring. So to get to know Bruce a little better we asked him a few questions about his expedition experience - have a read below and you might get a flavour of the experience he will deliver in Ladakh:
How did you get involved in expeditions?
I’ve followed personal adventures most of my life but when my children left home I was able to extend my climbing to the Americas and the Greater Ranges. Whilst on an adventure race to the Magnetic North Pole I was approached by another competitor, Tori James, who worked for British Exploring. A few months later I was leading for British Exploring in Svalbard as Chief Mountaineer.
What is the most extreme destination you have ever visited?
That’s a difficult question to answer as conditions can vary considerably. The sea ice of northern Canada can be quite extreme, as can Himalayan mountains over 8,000m. On balance I think Lake Baikal in Siberia is my choice as there are not many places you can travel for a week on your own and not see another person, or other living creature come to that.
What is special about a British Exploring expedition?
As the first organisation dedicated to the development of young people through a balance of science and adventure there have been many imitators. I am not aware of any other organisation able to provide an expedition experience as real and extensive as British Exploring. The success in later life of young people who have been on expeditions with British Exploring is testimony to the organisation’s methods first pioneered by Surgeon Commander George Murray Levick in 1932.
What have you learned most about yourself through expeditions?
As a project manager in my previous working life I have discovered that my skills in management and facilitation are very transferable to expedition life. I had never wanted to be a teacher having watched the hoops professional teachers are required to jump through. I have, however, found that I gain significant satisfaction from helping and guiding young people who want to learn.
What are the key attributes of an effective expedition leader?
A leader needs to have a clear vision and be decisive, but it is important that he or she listens to other members of the expedition and is open enough to change direction where appropriate. Having decided on a course of action, good communication is vital.
What advice would you give your 18 year old self if you were about to embark on a British Exploring expedition?
I would already have made a good decision by choosing British Exploring. I wish I had been aware of the organisation when I was a teenager. I would say go with an open mind and try everything you can. Especially the things you find most difficult. Also, look out for good role models and see where you can usefully incorporate their ways into your life.
What 3 luxury items will you be taking on expedition with you?
Fleece socks for sleeping, a good sleeping mat and a small pillow. As you can see I consider rest very important.
What do you miss most when on expedition?
Not much, I’m usually too focused to think about such things. Having a new grandchild, that might change a bit this year. I suppose I miss seeing the British countryside at the height of summer which is when most expeditions take place.
If you could choose any destination in the world to lead an expedition where would you go?
South Georgia. I had the great fortune to lead the last British Exploring expedition to South Georgia and I hope we can find a way to return there some day. Unfortunately HMS Endurance is no longer able to ply the southern oceans and an alternative civilian option is not quite the same. The scenery is phenomenal and it is a place of great historical significance to those interested in exploration. To have walked in the footsteps of Shackleton was one of the highlights of my life.
Who inspires you?
I’m not really into hero worshiping but take my inspiration from a variety of people. Many of the great names throughout history have not been particularly nice people, but they did had the ability to inspire others. I am also inspired by some of the most humble people in society, especially those who can work with the seriously disabled. The people who impress me the most are able to achieve without negatively impacting on those around them. If I have to choose just one person it would have to be Paula Radcliffe.
British Exploring is a personal development charity – what does this mean to you?
Personal development goes on throughout life, however the late teens and early twenties is a time when a huge amount can be achieved. Many of my own early experiences were provided by visionary school teachers who offered me options I might otherwise have never found. My personal confidence grew as I found the things I enjoyed and was good at. British Exploring offers young people that kind of help in spadefuls.
Bruce's British Exploring experience:
- Svalbard 2006: Chief Mountaineer
- Svalbard 2007: Logistics Support
- Falklands and South Georgia – 2008: Chief Mountaineer / Chief Leader
- Namibia – 2013: Deputy Chief Leader
- Namibia – 2014: Deputy Chief Leader
- Himalaya – 2015: Deputy Chief Leader
- Arctic Skills – 2015: Participant