Leader of the Year

Leader of the Year

Voting has now closed. The following people have either been awarded Leader of the Month or they were given a special mention and all you have to do is ‘like’ the nomination of the person you think should win.

The nominations are:

Cameron Wood

Cameron Wood Cameron is a 19 year old modern apprentice with the City of Edinburgh Council based at the Bangholm Outdoor Centre in Edinburgh. He’s been here a year and has already passed his Climbing Wall Award & Single Pitch Award. He’s done Mountain Leader Training and will complete his assessment this spring. (Cameron has since passed the Lowland Leader assessment.)

Since passing these awards he has been using them with a project called the Wildcats. This is a project for children in North Edinburgh which focuses on outdoor activities such as climbing. Cameron inspires every single one of them with his enthusiasm and love of climbing. Despite his tender years Cameron is an outstanding instructor, perhaps one of the best I have come across. Let me explain further: I’ve been a Mountain Training Scotland course provider/director for over 10 years. I’ve trained and assessed many candidates on SPA/CWA/WGL & ML. I have, as they say, been around the block a bit!

Cameron inspires me. He reminds me of me when I was 19 and he reminds me of why climbing is so much fun. He also reminds me of why being an outdoor instructor is so rewarding and I hope that one day, when he is as old and wizened as me, he too will come across the next Cameron Wood.

Debra Surridge

I would like to tell you about an amazing Climbing Wall Award instructor, who is a Police officer. Her name is Debra Surridge. Hi ROCK is a climbing wall on Hayling Island. Debra is an inspiring instructor who has worked with young people for over three years at the wall. Officer Surridge got funding for a £50,000 climbing wall, for young people of the island and area of Portsmouth. She has helped young people change their lives though climbing. She jumped though hoop after hoop to get the wall up and running, she was told that it would never work, she was told that she was wasting her time! She wrote endless risk assessments, she was told this is not something the police should be doing......but this officer believed in giving young people positive goals and has seen what it did for her own children. So this officer kept going, until she got the funding.

She has been a keen climber for 6 years, but was not an assessed instructor, so she booked on to the Climbing Wall Award training. She worked with groups at other walls and put the work in and passed her assessment. Debra said she was amazed by the level of best practice that goes into training and assessments. She is an amazing person, and she has helped so many young people change their lives for the better. We just wanted this officer to know how much we are proud of her at Hi ROCK Climbing wall.

Susan Lindsay

I nominate International Mountain Leader holder Susan Lindsay. For over 20 years she has been a voluntary leader inspiring others; mainly young people, to get involved in outdoor activity.

Sue is a teacher and voluntary Youth Worker. Based in Liverpool she began her 'leadership career' when she noticed that girls at the inner city school she works at were, in her words "not doing anything". She enquired with D of E, became a voluntary Youth Worker and obtained a Basic Expedition Leadership Award. Susan then gained her Summer Mountain Leader and Single Pitch Award. And ever since, has been inspiring young people by leading expeditions, climbing activities and summer camps in the UK and in the European Alps. As well as these activities, she has also trained new young leaders. She is now a voluntary ‘civilian Instructor’ with her local ATC group. A keen skier, she organises ski trips for her school. A few years ago she gained her IML. She gained all her qualifications without financial support and did so in her own time. She continues to give her time to inspire others, because of this, I think she deserves to be Leader of the Month.

Julia Lewis

I'm a Silver D of E expeditioner. I would like to nominate my leader Julia Lewis because I think that she deserves this and a whole lot more. She has inspired me and others to take part in D of E and to carry on our aims such as skills and volunteering even after our time with D of E. She's so passionate about what she does that she has inspired me to become a D of E leader when I'm older and I don't think I could even come close to following in her footsteps. Seeing her juggling all of her school students and D of E is difficult for some of us and I think I speak on behalf of my the Bronze, Silver and Gold groups when I say that we couldn't have done it without her and that a better person couldn't deserve this more than her.

Graham Little

I've known Graham for 3 years as he is our Outdoor Education instructor where we both work in a Blackpool school. I specialise as a communicator for the deaf, and after taking a deaf child away on a residential week in the Lake District, found the love of the outdoors and climbing. Graham and I then took some other deaf children on a residential trip that we decided to organise ourselves. Through these opportunities Graham has been a huge inspiration to me in encouraging me to pursue something I could never have dreamed of doing. I am now in training for my Climbing Wall Award in May.

Graham has dedicated so much of his spare time and effort, ensuring that I am fully prepared for my course by taking me to different climbing walls and filling me with all the knowledge, enthusiasm and confidence I need to succeed in this new venture. He has a real passion for climbing and without Graham, I would never have realised I could achieve these new goals and follow a new career path. Graham is a truly inspirational colleague and now a dear friend.

Graham was also nominated in November and gained a special mention.

Neil Mackay

Neil has just passed the BMG Scottish Winter Assessment - first time round! He has dedicated most of his life working towards becoming a Guide, following in the footsteps of his Father, Mac Mackay. The passion and complete commitment to the Guides is infectious - he has been a great influence to me and is currently assisting me with my Doctoral study which focuses on using design to increase female participation within the adventure sport industry in rural Scotland.

Neil set up SkiAscent a little while ago to offer a guiding and instruction service - it's definitely still a work in progress, but for him it's more important that people get to enjoy the mountains than to make any money out of it. This year he is supporting a new Scottish-based charity called Yogability - they were established in 2013, and provide free-of-charge yoga therapy to young people with disabilities and their carers. Neil is taking part in their 1000-mile walking challenge - he's probably completed most of his miles already! He aims to use the challenge to raise awareness and much needed funds for Yogability, so they can continue their great work.

Calum Wallace

Calum Wallace My meeting with Calum happened by chance, as an acquaintance of a mutual good friend of ours meant we had stumbled upon each other in Snowdonia. A series of events led to Calum eventually accompanying me on several QMDs in preparation for my Summer Mountain Leader assessment, which I am thoroughly glad and grateful for such serendipity.

As the days lead on, it was clear Calum was an ideal hill companion and mentor. Having just passed his Winter Mountain Leader award, he knew the qualities assessors were looking for, sharing his own knowledge and giving constructive and thoughtful feedback. His long term role as a DofE trainer manifested his adept soft skills, a fine balance between rigour and a forgiving nature which is necessary for any teacher that inspired confidence in my abilities.

Calum is a professional and a role model. Spending time in his poise, he has a caring and considerate nature for those others on the hill as well as the hill itself. It was clear he has a passion for the mountains and wants to share that with others. Calum is a paragon for an aspiring Mountain Leader candidate as well as to all hill walkers in general.

Mike Swann

Mike Swann Mike is a very inspirational instructor. He has acute M.S. (Multiple Sclerosis) but despite all his difficulties, he never stops trying. He has been a climbing instructor for a local climbing wall and is currently involved with the Scouts and a nearby private school. He will go out of his way to help people and to encourage others to challenge themselves. When we look at Mike, we see an old disabled man who struggles to walk but when we see him climb and instruct, we see a man who challenges stereotypes and labels. Mike has inspired many people to take up climbing as a sport or hobby and others to become instructors. Mike doesn't just inspire young people, he takes the time to inspire people with disabilities and elderly people too. He encourages other instructors to do the same, making climbing accessible to all.

Every year, Mike's disability gets a little bit worse. Every day, he fights it taking over his life and he fights for the ability to walk. Anyone with such a condition will have their mental health and self-esteem brutally challenged. To find the strength to carry on, to inspire others to do the same, is remarkable.

Myself, together with the young people we work with, feel that Mike is the most deserving of such an award. He is a kind, considerate and passionate man, who never gives up, not only on himself but on others as well. Please do consider him for the award. I shall keep my fingers crossed on his behalf!

Su Porter

I would like to nominate my lecturer Su Porter for ‘leader of the month’, not only of the month but of the past three years during my degree! She has inspired and supported me to achieve, sharing her passion and enjoyment of experience in the outdoors, whether in the mountains or on Dartmoor. Even in the pouring rain! Always working to achieve the best from her students, her effort assisted the success of a trip to north Wales to do Mountain Leader training and for some an experience of being, walking in the terrain. Understated, her enthusiasm for developing and sharing outdoor experiences is not just confined to university; a volunteer with the local scout organisation, organising the Devon orienteering league, hash club, and a member of the south west region Institute of Outdoor Learning committee, to mention a few. I feel her work at University and in the community is inspiring and deserving of recognition, particularly as it has encouraged and inspired me to work hard, to be able to achieve and become a similar role model in the future.

Trevor Massiah

Trevor Massiah Not only has he inspired me personally to climb more and more and to improve my climbing, he has also inspired many other climbers.

Not only does he know all about climbing techniques, rope work and safety, he also has the people skills to work with a whole range of different customers. And the best thing is that he does everything with a big smile on his face.

Jamie Holding, Chris Radford & Simon Burke

Ogwen Cottage Jamie Chris Simon This month (July) we've decided to recognise three Leaders of the Month, and the many more who went before them, at Ogwen Cottage in North Wales. The centre closed this month after 50 years as one of Birmingham City Council's residential centres. The council made the decision to close all of its centres earlier this year, after a six week consulation process, in an attempt to reduce Birmingham City Council's overall deficit.

Ogwen Cottage was bought by Birmingham City Council in 1964, the same year the Mountain Leader Training Board was establised, and had been providing a residential service to Birmingham's students ever since. The centre was also a provider of Mountain Leader and Single Pitch Award courses which were delivered to individuals from Birmingham and elsewhere from a stunning base in the Ogwen Valley.

We would like to wish all staff from Ogwen Cottage a successful future and we thank you for your contribution to the outdoor community.

Stephen Ramsay

Stephen Ramsay Stephen has been an integral member of Durham Scouts for many years. He tirelessly and selflessly donates almost every second of his spare time to inspiring and leading young people of all abilities and backgrounds within the British mountains. Steve runs numerous courses throughout the year for scout leaders, to train and assess them so that they may take their young people walking in the mountains. He does this for no personal gain, only the satisfaction of seeing scouts across the county engaging in outdoor activities. He spends a great deal of time training and assessing D of E groups throughout the UK, only asking for petrol money in return.

His actions and decisions are entirely based on what would be best for that young person. For several months, Stephen has put all of his effort in to helping a scout network member in Durham who has Cerebral Palsy, who was wheelchair bound for many years. With Stephen’s dedication and enthusiasm behind her, she has managed to achieve her Gold D of E award and succeed in numerous BMC para-climbing competitions. His skill, dedication and enthusiasm is endless, and I cannot think of any person more deserving of this award.

Mick Fenwick

Mick Fenwick Mick is an assistant headteacher in our school and has run the outdoors programmes here for five years. As a leader he has set up and run the Duke of Edinburgh’s award in school taking nearly 300 students through this scheme in the last five years. He’s also worked extensively to create outdoor activity programmes focused on hill walking using his qualification in mountain leadership to develop young people’s understanding of the countryside, to improve their own personal and team skills and to show them that a world exists beyond Hartlepool. He has trained a team of staff through the BEL qualification in school to assist on leadership of these programmes. This training has inspired us to want to develop further by looking at and now registering for programmes such as the Mountain Leader and Single Pitch Award. His dedication to developing outdoor programmes and leadership has been inspiring and our students and staff were keen to recognise this through a nomination for this award as we feel that all he does is in keeping with the spirit of Mountain Training. (Even sporting his MTA buff when training students as he was in the attached photo).

In addition, he also keeps an online blog of the students and other adventures as he enjoys sharing these successes with as wide an audience as he can to promote the outdoor activities.

Will Kilner

Will Kilner Will is a work colleague and friend of mine who this summer, particularly August and early September, mentored me through my SPA assessment. We climbed as often as our respective work calendars would allow and for no reward at all, other than that he enjoys sharing his knowledge, he coached me through both the climbing and technical aspects of the award. On one trip to the Peaks, Will refused to take his turns to lead allowing me to quickly rack up some leads. Each time he critiqued my gear and set ups. He also got me rigging top/bottom ropes and abseils and then told me to the finest detail how I could improve them. He improved my rope management, gear placement and speed no end. So much so that my rope management was complimented by the assessor.

Because of his help I was able to go to my assessment confident in my abilities and came out with a pass. I’m sure that without Will’s help my preparation would have been much harder and much less thorough and the result may have gone the other way. I'd like his efforts to be recognised by receiving this award.

Fida Hussain

Fida Hussain Fida has used his mountaineering skills and mountaineering qualifications for delivering Duke of Edinburgh in the Borough of Rochdale for over 10 years with a very high success rate. Rochdale has a high percentage of people from minority ethnic backgrounds. His has engaged a lot of young South Asian people in the D of E programme. He has used these skills to work with the BMC Equity Steering Group. More recently he has worked on the particular subject of why young people from a South Asian background do not engage in walking activities after completing their D of E and why they do not pursue qualifications.

Fida has set up a workshop which will include presentations from Mountain Training England and the BMC to try and encourage young South Asian people who have the skills, to consider pursuing qualifications. Currently there are 29 people interested. This has only been achieved by Fida’s incredibly hard work and the respect that he commands in the borough of Rochdale. He is able to work with both young people and community leaders and has a very strong insight into the invisible barriers that exist in the community. If successful this will have a significant impact on developing programmes to attract more ethnic minority people in to walk leading and qualifications.

Darren Bohanna

Darren Bohanna For almost 10 years Darren has been involved in delivering and inspiring young teenagers and adults in various adventurous activities. Darren has been volunteering for the Air Training Corps for the past 10 years and constantly gives up his own time to provide fantastic opportunities and experiences for its members. Darren is an ex air cadet and felt it was important to give back similar experiences to what he had as a cadet. Darren firstly gained his Climbing Wall Award along with his paddling qualifications and progressed to his Single Pitch Award and his Mountain Leader Summer (Training). Darren pushes a very well organised adventure training programme within his unit and his efforts where recognised by winning ‘Best Squadron at Adventure Training’ within Merseyside Wing this year. Darren has not only offered training to cadets but he has also offered training to other staff within his wing and inspired them to gain Mountain Training awards so they can offer similar experienes to young people.

Darren has inspired me to progress through my Mountain Training awards, and I have now gained my Climbing Wall award and also completed my Hill and Moorland Leader Training with the view to soon complete my Hill and Moorland Leader Assessment and to complete my Single Pitch Award in the near future.

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