Meet the Outdoor Team
Woodlore Field Staff Biographies
Woodlore has long been recognised as the UK's premier Bushcraft school, having run courses and overseas expeditions for over 30 years. Based on our combined first-hand knowledge and understanding of the outdoors, we believe we have the best and most experienced team in the business.
Every year Woodlore invests further resources in recruiting and training the field team so that we can continuously improve the quality of instruction to our clients. Inevitably over the years we have had staff changes, however this only serves to make the team closer and stronger. Therefore we are in no doubt that our current team is our best yet.
Our field team are all first aiders, individually CRB checked and have been trained in Food Hygiene.
We are sure you will enjoy spending time with our staff on our courses. Below are some biographies so you can start to get to know them before you arrive.
Founder of Woodlore
Ray MearsRay is one of the few true outdoor legends and for nearly 30 years he has been running courses in the UK and overseas, sharing his knowledge with those who have sought to learn more about our unique world. It is often said that before Woodlore, there was no Bushcraft in the UK.
During Woodlore's near 30-year history, Ray has led courses in many diverse environments, including the Arctic, Jungle, Temperate Rainforest and Desert, and has spent time with some of the last remaining indigenous peoples in some of the remotest places on the planet. Tracking has long been a passion of Rays and with 40 years dedicated to the study and interpretation of sign, Ray brings a unique wealth of knowledge of this specialist skill to the team.
Quietly spoken, Ray is recognised worldwide as a true master of the outdoors. Having spent the majority of his life learning to be at home in places others describe as hostile, he has unparalleled experience and in-depth knowledge. It is this that enables Ray to design, develop and lead exciting expeditions for Woodlore. Ray continues to work tirelessly to share his understanding so that others may "drink from the well of bushcraft".
Fundamental InstructorsWith more experience Aspirant Instructors can put themselves forward for the rigorous Woodlore Fundamental Instructor test. If passed they become a Fundamental Instructor and at this level the member of staff is able to lead most of the courses we run in the UK and will most likely be assisting on overseas expeditions. This is a very high level and so far we have only had two people pass this test.
Becoming a Fundamental Instructor is a milestone in the progression of our staff, marking a high level of competence in skill, knowledge and communication. A highly respected qualification that serves as a gateway to further learning.
Dan HumeDan, our full time Head of Operations was born and grew up in Suffolk. He enjoyed many outdoor activities including fishing and shooting. Dan was lucky enough to have lots of countryside near his home and was able to practice his bushcraft skills that he had learnt from Ray's programmes. It was Dan's love of the outdoors that inspired him to travel to Cape York Peninsular, Australia on the Norfolk and Suffolk Wing Expedition with the Air Training corps in August 2006.
After assisting the Woodlore team during his work experience and then attending the Fundamental and Woodsense courses Dan was invited to join the Woodlore Team in 2007. During his time at Woodlore he has gained much experience in bushcraft and is especially talented at making fire and tracking. Dan's interest in tracking started when he attended the Woodsense course in 2006 and continued on the Namibia course in 2007, learning African Bushcraft and Tracking with Ray, which culminated in spending time with the San Bushmen. In 2009 Dan also attended our Arctic Experience course learning the fundamental skills of Arctic bushcraft with Lars Fält. In 2009 Dan passed the Fundamental Instructor test and was awarded the Woodlore Instructor knife.
During the course season Dan can be found in the woods leading various Woodlore courses. As Head of Operations he is also responsible for the recruitment and welfare of the outdoor team, as well as creating new courses.
Aspirant InstructorsOnce members of staff have been an assistant for a few seasons, should they wish to and should they fit all necessary requirements, they are able to take the Woodlore Aspirant Instructor exam. Passing this assessment of practical and theoretical knowledge, they become an Aspirant Instructor. At this level they are able to lead our Fundamental Bushcraft course, Junior Fundamental Bushcraft course and our Introduction to Bushcraft course; at first under supervision.
Keith WhiteheadKeith, our full time Quartermaster and Aspirant Instructor, was born in Lancashire where he spent many long and happy formative hours with his father, exploring the moors and hills. These experiences were the foundation of an abiding passion for the outdoors that runs through his life.
After studying Horticulture at Merrist Wood college Keith worked within the industry for many years, before deciding to read a BSc. Hon. in Social Biology. This study led Keith to look more closely at the interactions between animals and their environment. He paid particular attention to humans, their ancestors and to indigenous peoples, their cultures, and technologies.
It was this shift in focus that led him to Woodlore and the Fundamental Bushcraft course. For Keith this was "a life changing experience", bringing together all the strands of his life. He applied to Woodlore as an assistant soon afterwards and joined the team in 2007. He has since learned many new skills through private study, practice, and the wisdom of his peers. Keith says: The passion of the people with whom I work is infectious and it is truly a pleasure to spend time with colleagues and clients in such a beautiful environment. The outdoors has always been my retreat and source of inspiration. I relish the opportunity to share this with anyone who is willing to learn with commitment. In 2010, Keith passed the Woodlore Aspirant Instructor test and received his Aspirant Instructor certificate.
During the course season Keith can be found in the woods leading and assisting on various Woodlore courses as well as looking after all of the course equipment. During the winter Keith is in charge of maintaining, and replacing equipment used for courses as well as helping out in the office.
Sarah DayJoining the Woodlore team in 2006, Sarah arrived at her interest in Bushcraft after a childhood spent camping with family, cooking dough twists and kippers over open fires and scouring the beaches for fossils. At the age of eight she was bought Ray Mears Survival Handbook. In the years since, she has tried many of the different Bushcraft skills including cordage using a variety of natural fibres, basketry, dyeing using vegetable dyes, pottery, flint knapping, bone working, bow making (and archery) and, of course, shelter and fire.
Many of Sarah's skills (fibre work, basketry and pottery in particular) were also acquired as a result of her continued involvement in reenactments of Tudor life at a local manor house in which she has been taking part since the age of seven. Sarah's love of creative work led her to starting a degree in fashion and textiles in September 2007. Sarah also enjoys sailing, hiking, hill walking, and has been involved with the Scouts as an assistant leader. Sarah is working her way through solo and tandem canoeing certificates, a relatively new interest sparked by two months working at a canoe camp in Canada in the summer of 2005.
In 2010, Sarah passed the Woodlore Aspirant Instructor test and received her Aspirant Instructor certificate.
Brian FoxBrian joined the Royal Marines in 1980 and during this time he served in many countries ranging from desert to arctic, jungle to mountains. Brian completed several survival courses within those terrains. After leaving the forces, Brian obtained a Law Degree, and is also a qualified teacher in the Longlife Learning Sector which has enabled him to teach law and procedure within the West Midlands Police.
Brian's love of the countryside has continued where he spent many a foray hill walking, scrambling and camping. Brian's interest in Bushcraft was inspired by Ray's many television programmes and books on the subject. Brian pursued this interest by attending many courses with bushcraft becoming his number one pastime. Brian joined the Woodlore Team in 2008.
Brian has recently been promoted to Sergeant at a very busy police station in Birmingham.
In 2010, Brian passed the Woodlore Aspirant Instructor test and received his Aspirant Instructor certificate.
Nick ThompsonNick has always enjoyed being outdoors and amongst nature. Growing up in Cornwall, this took the form of hours spent investigating streams and finding their sources, and exploring the beautifully varied, fascinating coastline.
His passion for the outdoors has taken him through a career in Arboriculture, which has both sated and increased a love of trees and woodland environments. Married to "the most beautiful woman ever created", he is the proud father of four fantastic children.
In 2010, Nick passed the Woodlore Aspirant Instructor test and received his Aspirant Instructor certificate.Modern Western culture seems to exorcise natural rhythms and richness from our lives; by combining primitive living skills, agrarian crafts and modern technologies, my study of Bushcraft enables me to interact with nature in a more harmonious and profound way. Working with the Woodlore team is very rewarding; both learning and sharing with others, who have an empathy for people and nature that I recognise within myself.
Tom SewardTom was born and brought up in Wiltshire where he developed a love of the outdoors. On family orienteering and camping trips, Tom spent many a happy hour exploring and making shelters in the forests and landscapes he visited. With strong Welsh roots, summer holidays were spent on the North coast of Pembrokeshire where he developed his range of water skills – fishing, surfing, kayaking and coasteering. Always a strong swimmer, Tom is a former Junior Welsh surf swim Champion and professional beach lifeguard. He has worked as an assistant instructor at an outdoor activities centre in Pembrokeshire, leading surfing and coasteering groups and developing his climbing, walking and kayaking skills, also improving his knowledge of the local environment.
Tom was introduced to Woodlore through a Fundamental Bushcraft course that he was given as an 18th birthday present and after completing his Campcraft course the following year, he was invited to attend a recruitment weekend. Tom says:
In 2011, Tom passed the Woodlore Aspirant Instructor test and received his Aspirant Instructor certificate.I once took a day off school (with parent's permission) to attend a book signing by Ray at a local bookshop in Marlborough, where my mother asked Ray if he did apprenticeships. Although Ray laughed and declined the offer, I am delighted to be where I am today and I'm looking forward to developing my experience further!
Rob BashfordRob first joined the Woodlore team in 2006. He is a keen outdoorsman and qualified RYA Senior Dinghy Instructor, RYA Powerboat Instructor and Summer Mountain Leader. Rob enjoys hillwalking, skiing, camping, shooting and, of course, sailing. Rob grew up in the Kent countryside and spent his formative years in the Scouts and Cadets, including participating in orienteering and shooting competitions. Rob now resides near the Highlands in Scotland.
At the end of the course season in 2008 Rob took a break from teaching bushcraft to pursue his interests in sailing and travelling. At the start of the 2011 course season we were very pleased to see Rob back as part of the Woodlore team once again.
About working for Woodlore Rob says:
When he's not working for Woodlore Rob tends to like to travel, either to work or for pleasure and has travelled to New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and Finland. Rob's most recent trip was leading a group on a two-week expedition to Morocco, summiting North Africa's highest mountain and camel trekking in the desert.I enjoy being outdoors in all weathers, learning lost skills, working with a diverse range of people and passing these skills onto them.
In 2013, Rob passed the Woodlore Aspirant Instructor test and received his Aspirant Instructor certificate.
Senior AssistantsAs assistants gain experience some are promoted to the level senior assistant. They are required to guide the more junior members of our team and teach some lessons. This is a challenging role.
Kevin MacLeodKevin has recently re-located to the Kent & Sussex borders where he enjoys the stunning wooded countryside of this area. Most of Kevin's interests revolve around outdoor pursuits including, sailing, jogging, fell walking, camping, motorcycle touring and skiing (both X-Country and Alpine.)
In 2005 Kevin attended his first Woodlore course as a client and then made this a habit over the following couple of years. Having applied for a position in 2007, early in 2008 Kevin joined the Woodlore team as an Assistant, providing support for instructors. Commenting on his time with Woodlore so far:
I have found it so very satisfying and rewarding to see how Woodlore's customers can begin a course with uncertainty and trepidation but finish with confidence and a hunger to learn more but most of all a big smile.
Adrian NewtonAdrian's interest in the great outdoors began at a very early age living on the edge of the Pennines in North Derbyshire. He was extremely lucky to be surrounded by friends and family who enjoyed many aspects of the outdoors. He went fishing and camping with friends all over the country, from Scotland to Cornwall. He had friends that taught him to sail and canoe on a reservoir and the Rivers Trent and Dove near his home. Another friend taught Adrian and his brothers to ski in a field on a local farm which led to a life long interest in all snow sports including Nordic Skiing and Snowboarding. He has snowboarded all over Europe and North America.
After a period of living in the big cities of Milan and London, Adrian had the urge to get back to the nature he had previously enjoyed. This led Adrian to Woodlore's Fundamental Bushcraft course in 2004. The rest, as they say, is history!
Adrian has worked as a carpenter for twenty years now and through his love of this job, he has developed a keen interest in many of the craft aspects of Bushcraft, including greenwoodworking, carving, birchbark craft and knifemaking. Adrian joined the Woodlore team in 2008.
Darren BatesDarren was born and grew up in Dunstable, Bedfordshire. Luckily for him as a child he was always outdoors playing and enjoying the countryside. Like most boys he would be building dens and making fires. He has a love and enjoyment of any outdoor activity may it be shooting, watching wildlife, photography, canoeing and of course practising bushcraft skills. "Getting the chance to work for Woodlore was like a dream come true", Darren says, and he has met some of the nicest people and made some of his greatest friends. Being a client on the Fundamental and Woodsense courses really opened Darren's eyes to how much he loved being outside with nature, watching the seasons change and dealing with all the conditions. Keeping calm and upbeat along with a good sense of humour helps in those circumstances. For Darren bushcraft is a subject he has really grown to love and to see glimpses of things that most people haven't, is a treasure in itself.
Callum HilderHaving grown up in the fields and woods of Sussex, Callum's inspiration for the natural world, its inhabitants and the uses to which the plants, trees and animals can be put has intensified with every outing. Every time Callum is in the countryside he appreciates its ever changing cycle, beauty and the way that every second, something changes.
Callum was born and bred in Shipley, West Sussex, on the Knepp Castle Estate. From an early age he always played in the countryside surrounding his house, sleeping out in his father's old army sleeping bag and non waterproof poncho, making fires, building shelters and catching rabbits with bits of string and wire. This progressed into beginning to learn the subject of Bushcraft and from that moment Callum has not stopped wanting to learn as much as possible about the natural world. Callum has a particular interest in trapping, wild foods, deer and fire-making.
Callum began working on the Knepp Castle Estate assisting the gamekeeper and is now in his final year of a National Diploma in Game and Wildlife management and will be leaving to go into the game keeping industry.
Callum attended the Junior Fundamental Bushcraft course when he was thirteen and then did two work experience placements before joining the Woodlore team in January 2010.
The key is to be able to discover what has changed and why, and that is what is truly fascinating about the subject of Bushcraft for me.
Wayne EgertonWayne was born and bred on the Isle of Wight, where he still resides with his wife and two young children. Growing up he enjoyed many outdoor activities based around the sea, including windsurfing, fishing and coastal camping. Wayne joined the scouting movement at a young age and later became a keen outdoor sportsman including shooting and ferreting, generally anything associated with the outdoors!
Wayne has enjoyed travelling to many countries over the years, and has come to realise how this develops you as a person, giving you both experience and confidence in dealing with life's situations. Closer to home he enjoys spending time in the varied habitats the Island has to offer, from salt marshes and shingle beaches to pine forests and open downland.
A keen follower of Ray's work, Wayne embarked on the Arctic Survival Course with Lars in February 2009. This he thoroughly enjoyed and learnt a great deal about the very extreme environment. Following this, he attended the Woodlore Selection Process and began work as an assistant in 2010.
Since working for Woodlore I have been impressed by the high standards and level of professionalism demonstrated by the entire team, and have been able to add to my skills through training and guidance.
Mark BootonMark has had a love of the great outdoors and nature since an early age. Spending his childhood close to the Surrey/Hants borders, he spent many enjoyable hours building camps with his brother in the woods and studying wildlife. As he grew older, Mark's sense of adventure and yearning not to be confined to an office led him to a career in the armed forces, where he spent 6 memorable years travelling around the globe with the Royal Marines.
Upon leaving the forces Mark set up home back where he grew up, and is now married and has two very adventurous little boys of his own! Despite being widely travelled, Mark believes fulfilment and adventure can always be found closest to home and he is now never happier than foraging for mushrooms and other edible wild produce in his local woods.
In 2010, Mark attended the fundamental bushcraft course and found it truly inspiring and, soon after, he applied and was lucky enough to be selected to join Woodlore. Mark says he feels "very privileged to be part of such a devoted and professional team" and is looking forward to expanding his knowledge and continuing to share his passion for bushcraft with others.
Ross BurtRoss was born and grew up in Devon. He has benefitted from living so close to Dartmoor throughout his childhood and this has developed his love of the outdoors.
Ross was lucky enough to have uncles who were interested in the outdoors while he was growing up. They taught him to fish, hunt, shoot and camp.
On leaving school Ross embarked on a career in Engineering, but soon realised that his love for the outdoors was not diminishing. He therefore decided to find work in the outdoors and is pleased to be part of the Woodlore team, joining the company in 2011. Ross explains:
I have many interests including; tracking, fishing, and hunting. Ray's books and programmes have just fuelled my interest.
Steve CorbynAs a child growing up in Wiltshire, Steve spent much of his spare time in the outdoors cooking over a campfire, camping out with friends and has always enjoyed being in the woods.
When he was older Steve didn't lose this passion, instead it progressed into hill walking, deer stalking and starting a career in conservation. Being in natural places, feeling that he is a part of that ecosystem and knowing that he has the self discipline to not only survive there but to live and be a part of it is key to Steve. As a practical conservationist Steve understands how humans are part of nature rather than believing we are outside of it. Steve comments:
Steve feels bushcraft is a fun and practical medium to allow us to see and use the vast diversity of renewable resources that our natural world offers and therefore gives us a deeper respect for nature.Spending time in a natural environment reminds you that you are not separate from the woods, you are a part of it. I love the feeling of just taking a few belongings to make life possible and relying on your skills and wit to live comfortably.
AssistantsThis is the level at which we usually recruit outdoor staff. As an assistant one would be required to assist in all camp duties such as; maintaining camp hygiene, shopping, cooking, aiding clients with skills and helping to prepare lectures. They play a vital role in the running of our courses.
David SoutheyBorn and raised on Salisbury plain, David spent a lot of his youth exploring the wide open spaces, secluded valleys and copses. During his childhood he spent family holidays in the Lake District, on the south coast, Dartmoor and in the West Country.
David was a member of the Army cadets which meant a lot of his time was spent outdoors on exercises and adventurous training. His first navigational lesson was from his father on Dartmoor at the back of Oakhampton camp aged 8, which fired his great interest in map work.
Serving for 5 years in the Army, working in and undertaking survival courses in the jungle of Guyana, arid lands of the Middle East, Norway and temperate environments here in the UK showed David what a person is capable of beyond their own expectations.
Enrolling on the Woodlore Fundamental Bushcraft course in 2007, while living in Plymouth, changed how David viewed his trips out to Dartmoor; he began wanting to enjoy the journey as well as the destination.
David spent a lot of time building on the skills learnt at Woodlore by reading, watching and listening to any source of knowledge on Bushcraft, then getting out trying things, be that in the garden or the highlands of Scotland. David joined the Woodlore Team in 2011 as an assistant.
I love the countryside of Britain, though I enjoy travelling to other countries, Britain still holds me in awe of the places people seem to dismiss as found, conquered and tamed. This just isn't true; you only have to spend a night outside in any piece of our green land to know how wild it still is.
Mark CallardMark was born and raised in Devon and was fortunate to spend his childhood years growing up on a farm on the South Devon coast. This gave Mark the childhood every boy should have, making dens, camping, raft making, and canoeing. A passion for Dartmoor arose through his teenage years and he is now fortunate enough to be passing on Dartmoor's secrets to his three inquisitive children.
Mark has learnt most of his outdoor skills from spending time in the woods and from watching Ray on television and reading his books. After being convinced to send his C.V to Woodlore, Mark found himself taking part in Woodlore's recruitment process in 2011 which was "fantastic in itself". Mark joined the Woodlore Team in 2012 as an assistant and is now continuing to improve his skills with the team. Mark says:
After finally meeting Ray with my family and him captivating my children, it's a dream come true to be on his outdoor team. This is only possible with the enthusiasm, love and support from my family and friends.