Meet the team…
Bear Grylls has become known around the world as one of the most recognized faces of survival and outdoor adventure. His journey to this acclaim started in the UK on the Isle of Wight, where his late father taught him to climb and sail. Trained from a young age in martial arts, Bear went on to spend three years as a soldier in the British Special Forces, serving with 21 SAS. It was here that he perfected many of the skills that his fans all over the world enjoy watching him pit against mother-nature.
Despite a free-fall parachuting accident in Africa, where he broke his back in three places, and after enduring months in military rehabilitation, Bear went on to become one of the youngest ever climbers to reach the summit of Mount Everest.
Bear went on to star in the Channel 4 series: Escape to the Legion and seven series of the Discovery Channel’s Emmy nominated TV show Man Vs Wild and Born Survivor, which has become one of the most watched shows on the planet, reaching an estimated 1.2 billion viewers.
Off screen, Bear has lead record-breaking expeditions, from Antarctica to the Arctic, which in turn have raised over $2.5million for children around the world. In recognition for his expertise and service, Bear was appointed as the youngest ever Chief Scout to over half a million scouts in the UK, was awarded an honorary commission as a Lieutenant-Commander in the Royal Navy and as a Lieutenant-Colonel in the notoriously tough Royal Marines Commandos.
He has authored 15 books, including the No 1 Bestseller: Mud Sweat & Tears which was voted the most influential book in China for 2012. Other titles include: Extreme Food: What to eat when your life depends on it; Your Life; Train For It, True Grit, A Survival Guide For Life, Born Survivor, Living Wild, Great Outdoor Adventures, Facing Up, Facing the Frozen Ocean, To My Sons and seven children’s fiction novels titled Mission: Survival. 2015 will see the author entering new territory with the release of his first fiction thriller book series, promised to combine the best of Bond, Bourne and Indiana Jones.
In the TV world, Summer 2013 saw Bear’s new US TV series: Get Out Alive with Bear Grylls running on NBC and voted the No 1 new network reality show in the 18-49 age category. The show aired worldwide on Discovery Channel alongside a further series: Bear Grylls: Escape from Hell and Bear Grylls: Extreme Survival Caught on Camera.
2014 Bear added some fresh programming to his slate, hosting the hit adventure show ‘Running Wild’ on NBC in America, as well as ‘The Island with Bear Grylls’ & ‘Bear’s Wild weekends’ for Channel 4 in the UK.
This year is set to be Bear’s biggest yet, with the Global Ambassador for Land Rover signed up for a second run of the hugely popular US series ‘Running Wild’ for NBC (series one currently airing on Discovery Network), plus a US version of The Island with Bear Grylls also for NBC. In addition, Bear is hosting a new Discovery Channel show titled: Breaking Point, and he co-owns and hosts two brand new formats for ITV – Mission Survive (a new celebrity adventure Entertainment show) and Great British Adventures, all of which are set to hit our screens in the first half of the year. Plus we see the return of Channel 4’s the Island with Bear Grylls with both a male and female series spanning some 17 episodes
Find out more about Bear Grylls
Dave Pearce says, “I served 24 years in the British Commandos. I served globally, with many elite forces and in many theaters of Ops. I left about 7/8 years ago. In the last seven years I have worked as a consultant to business developing team and leadership, worked as an International mountain guide (including guiding on Everest,) carried out close protection for ‘A’ list celebs and CEO’s, and have attended expeditions globally, some with Bear Grylls.
I have summited Everest and returned to the mountain a few years later. I was part of an ascent of Kangchenjunga (third highest mountain) with no supplementary oxygen. I have mountaineered extensively in the Alps. I have a background in survival in all environments and especially mountains and cold climates. I am a wild water paddler, sea paddler and ski mountaineer, too.
I continue to work with Bear Grylls and supported him on just about all the Man v Wild shows over the past 7 years. I have delivered all the safety and stunt coordination for all Bear does. I have always worked closely with Bear, the director and film crew to develop unique and interesting survival and stunt challenges along with other show content. I also coordinate his security and act as close protection where appropriate. I also work very closely with Bear on many other projects outside of TV. I continue to mountaineer, paddle, ski and challenge myself in all manner of activities.
I have a mantra…come back alive, come back friends and come back successful….in that order. And, never get complacent!”
Scott Heffield has been involved in teaching and training now for over 25 years in a variety of subjects ranging from self defense training to high altitude mountaineering. His skill base formed its foundations when he served as a Commando in the Royal Marines seeing active service around the globe. He finished his service as a Physical Training Instructor, responsible for training Royal Marine Commando recruits, trained Commando’s and members of the Special Forces in skills ranging from specialist amphibious operations to specialist Commando skills such as unarmed combat, climbing and abseiling.
After leaving the Royal Marines he joined the Police Service and after a period as an operational Police Officer, became a Police Self-Defense Instructor, a Riot Squad Instructor and qualified as a Taser Instructor. During this period Scott continued to climb and was involved in the planning, organization and the leading of numerous expeditions all over the world.
Scott’s experience as a leader and motivator is well proven following operational active service, training and operating in extreme environments such as the Jungle, Desert, Arctic and Antarctic. Four full winters spent mountain training in Norway, fifteen seasons in the European Alps skiing and climbing, expeditions in the Himalaya, USA, and Russia and almost a year living and working in Antarctica speak for themselves.
Over the last 10 years he has been working on British TV depicted as a motivational expert for channels such as BBC1, BBC2 and ITV. Behind the camera he puts his experience to work with Bear Grylls as a rope safety expert, survival expert, stunt coordinator and logistics coordinator on shows such as Born Survivor, Wild Weekends, Running Wild, Get Out Alive and The Island. More recently Scott has featured alongside Bear on ITV’s Mission Survive series. Scott is now an integral part of the team for the Bear Grylls Survival Academy with his main focus as Project Development Manager, he is busy travelling around the world in search of new locations, The Nevada Desert, The mountains of Beijing and the white water rapids of Victoria Falls to name but a few.
Lives in Plymouth with wife Vanessa and two children Poppy and Patrick, and three dogs. Served twenty three years in the Royal Marine and served all around the world. In the jungle, desert and the Arctic.
Is a mountain Instructor (MIA) and a Winter Mountain Leader and keen Paddler. Has climbed in the Himalayas, Alps, America. Was awarded the Royal Humane Stanhope Gold Medal for rescuing an injured climber from the North Ridge of Mount EVEREST.
Enjoys everything outdoors.
Jim Bonney is no stranger to seeking and thriving in adversity – a Mountaineer, Sea kayaker and former Royal Marine Commando Officer. In 2001 whilst attempting an unclimbed route on a mountain in Alaska he fell a 1000ft, dragging his climbing partner with him.
Faced with 2 broken legs and a critically injured climbing partner his remarkable rescue was only the beginning. 18 months of surgery and rehabilitation resulted in him electing to have one of his legs amputated below the knee – to enable him to regain his function. He learned the hard way that rehabilitation is a difficult, lengthy and emotionally challenging process, particularly having attained such an elite level prior to injury – his passion and drive for adventure and challenge, supported by his family, motivated him through the difficult times. He went on to regain his fitness as a Royal Marines Officer and he continued to lead Royal Marines in extreme environments both at sea and on land until he retired in 2010.
His unique experiences saw him selected to lead the Royal Marines recruit rehabilitation organisation and he was active in developing rehabilitation programmes for battle casualties returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Leading and guiding highly motivated individuals, teams and groups who have to operate in challenging situations and environments is core business for Jim. He has unique insight into the physical and emotional challenges that humans can face and thrive from; some of the most effective growth emerges from the traumatic and exceptional circumstances that austerity and unexpected experiences deliver.
Jim lives on Dartmoor with his wife Kirsty, a Doctor and their 2 sons, neither of whom are showing any signs of settling to an indoor life!
Jeff has over 30 years’ experience organising and leading treks to Mt Aconcagua, Mt Kilimanjaro Tanzania, Mt Toubkal Morocco, Mt Kinabalu Malaysia, Mount Blanc France, Via Ferrata Italian Dolomites also Expeditions and Survival courses in Norway the jungles of Malaysia, Australia’s Northern Territory, Daintree rain forest Queensland, Hinchinbrook Island Qualified M L, SI Inland Kayaking, SI Sea Kayaking. Qualified in exploration medicine, qualified expedition medic, other non-mountain related activities qualified professional rescue diver, professional search and recovery diver, master scuba diver, professional dive master.
Tim grew up in Devon close to Dartmoor and the East Devon Coast, these areas and his involvement with the Scouts allowed for an excellent foundation for a career in the Outdoors.
Tim is a qualified lecturer in Outdoor Adventure, he has experience leading an Army Preparation Course, motivating young adults to be physically, mentally and emotionally prepared for a future career in the military and the Outdoor industry. He has organised some extremely gruelling and challenging charity expeditions to raise money for Help for Heroes and the Army Benevolent Fund.
Tim holds a mountain leader qualification and has lead groups in various mountain regions. He is a cave leader and has taken people in these extreme and challenging environments, he is also a kayaking, canoeing and climbing instructor.
Tim says “the knowledge and skills i have learnt from others within the outdoors has enabled me to achieve, your team is your greatest asset!”
James has attended 5 levels of Wilderness Survival and Tracking School in New Jersey. Based in Durango, Colorado, James has been a survival and outdoor instructor in various capacities for 15 years now. James is a keen white water kayaker, has achieved a Masters degree in Outdoor Education and has spent a lifetime in the outdoors!
Anthony has a vast amount of experience and has gone through an elite level of training with ropes, vertical rescue and climbing. He is a certified rope technician and is able to teach all aspects of ropes and rigging. Spending most of his life outdoors, he has developed a strong survival background and has taught this across the Pacific region of the USA. Unsurprising given his upbringing in Denver, Colorado, his real passion in life is extreme sports and has a Masters Degree in Outdoor Education.
Josh is a lifelong outdoor athlete, survival expert, guide, and adventure film maker from New Jersey. His passions include whitewater kayaking, backpacking, ice and rock climbing, and peak bagging. He also doubles as a freelance writer and advocate for ALS patient support and care. Josh has navigated a canoe from the highest source of the Hudson River to the Statue of Liberty, and is 19 peaks shy of having climbed the 115 highest mountains in the Northeastern United States. He holds certifications as a Wilderness First Responder, ACA Recognized Whitewater Raft Guide, in Swift water Rescue, and Avalanche Level 1. Josh’s motto has long been “The adventure begins when the plan ends.”
Christian enjoys the outdoors, extreme sports, and travel. He’s passionate about helping others step outside comfort zones. He believes a person should test themselves and push their limits to achieve personal growth and realize true potential. Outdoor adventures are excellent opportunities for this transformation. Christian is a veteran of the US Air Force and a SERE training graduate. He routinely participates in endurance events such as Ironman triathlons, adventure races, orienteering, ultrarunning and mountaineering. He has traveled to six continents and over 65 countries. He has been on expeditions in Africa, Alaska, the Himalaya, Russia, Asia, and South America. Christian often says “if there’s not a waiver involved, it’s not worth doing”.
Steve Rees, Freelance Outdoor Activities Provider, Photographer and Emergency Medical Technician based in Cardiff, South Wales.
I spent 18 Years in the Royal Marines, Serving in both the Reserves and Regular Service across the Globe and left the Corp in 2009 as a Physical Training & Adventurous Training Instructor. I Ran the Unarmed Combat Display Team for 3 years and spent 4 years on the Training Team, coaching and Training Royal Marine Recruits at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines and the Reserve Units. Also, teaching survival, bushcraft and self defence skills and self discipline. I spent 2 Years at the Royal Navy Leadership Training Centre in Talybont, Brecon Beacons as a teacher of Leadership and motivational skills using outdoor activities such as Climbing, Caving, Canoeing, Kayaking and Mountain biking before finishing as the Senior Instructor.
25 years old, joined the Royal Marines at 19 and went to Afghanistan in 2011 as part of Lima Company FSG. Completed a heavy weapons course a few years later and joined air defence before leaving the corps in 2013. A fully trained personal trainer James now studies sports science at university whilst working as a strength and conditioning coach at a professional football club. He loves to be outdoors and practice his skills learnt from his time in the military, passing on his knowledge to those on the BGSA courses.
Dan served 12yrs with the Coldstream Guards as an NCO. Guarding all the royal households as one of the roles. Held the position of Physical Training Instructor within the regiment. Completed operational tours in Northern Ireland and Bosnia. A British Army ski instructor, Mountain Bike instructor plus MLT. Dan also runs military type fitness classes in his spare time. A Keen cyclist having achieved various goals, including John O Groats to Lands End (un-supported) London to Paris in 23hrs, and Coast to Coast. Loves anything outdoors and fitness related. Dan is keen to pass on his knowledge to anyone who enrols onto a BGSA course. “I love to see people enjoying the great outdoors, and being pushed that little bit more out of their comfort zone in order to achieve something unique to them”
I am Paul Gardiner, CEO of BGV2 London and BGSA. Having grown up as a game ranger in South Africa at Shamwari Game Reserve I have a great passion for the outdoors and wildlife. BGSA forms part of the Mantis Collection, a hotel group founded by my father, Adrian. I am the Group Marketing Director for this growing portfolio of boutique hotels and game reserves spread out across the world (in fact we’re the only group with hotels on all 7 continents). BGSA is one of the most exciting projects that I have had the pleasure of developing with my team and we are so proud to be transforming lives and giving people the opportunity to survive just like Bear! Come and join us on a course somewhere in the world!
Steve Holt is Financial Director of BGSA, BGV2, Mantis Collection and Worldwide Experience, he has been with the group for fifteen years. Steve has travelled extensively, he swims daily and loves the outdoors, he is just as happy walking on the North Downs in Surrey, UK, as he is skiing down Mount Hutt in New Zealand. Steve enjoys the challenge of developing BGSA and the many facets of Bear Grylls brand, around the world. Steve is known in the office as “The Stig”, due to his other passion, for motor sports and he has attended Formula One Grand Prix in 11 countries, as well as the Le Mans 24 hour race, in France.
Rachel is the Sales and Marketing Director here at BGSA and although the woods and mountains are not her natural habitat she can often be found travelling the globe in search of new locations for our academies and getting stuck in on courses and Corporate Events around the country. Rachel was lucky enough to head up launches of our courses in Victoria Falls, China & Las Vegas with the team. Rachel has worked for The Mantis group for the past 11 years and has travelled extensively through Southern Africa making the Survival in the Victoria Falls her favourite location ” The Falls is the most stunning destination with challenging features sure to put anyone to the ultimate test and we have designed the most epic BGSA course here – why not give it a go yourself?….. oh, and it may hurt a little!”
Don, head of Corporate Events here at BGSA and a graduate in Psychology, is a keen adventurer and an active sportsman. He has undertaken adventures around the world, including hiking the Grand Canyon, climbing Volcanos in Nicaragua and exploring the Andes in Bolivia. He can usually be found organising the corporate events in the office, helping out on courses around the UK, setting up courses around the world and playing pranks on unsuspecting colleagues. He is a keen rugby player, skier and crossfitter. Don has recently taken the role of the resident ‘GoPro’ video maker. His adventures at BGSA have taken him to the Scottish Highlands, New York State, California, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and the UAE.
Reservations Manager. Anita has been working for BGSA for the past year after returning from maternity leave, although she has been working for the Mantis Collection for the past 5 years. Anita is no stranger to the outdoors, spending most of her weekends either climbing or kayaking in North Wales. A qualified sky diving instructor, Anita is the office adrenaline junkie and is soon embarking on an around the world tour with her husband to give those less fortunate the opportunity to learn to sky dive. Anita’s sense of community is shown through her leadership of the Godalming Scout Group, teaching the next generation the characteristics that have helped her to become the super mum that she is today.
Former ‘Boyband’ member Morgan is the latest addition to the team!…..I joined BGSA in late 2014, although I don’t have a military background like a lot of the other guys do, I just love sports and the outdoors and enjoy learning pretty much anything new. If I had to pick favourites they would be martial arts, rugby, surfing and generally any ‘man on man’ contact sport…..but I’ll try my hand at anything. I’ve worked for a long time as a sports coach and have qualifications to teach all of the traditional sports (like football and rugby) and some of the unusual ones (I”m the highest qualified dodgeball coach in the country). I entered the BGSA Instructor Academy in June 2014 which was really well taught by Scottie and Bruce. The course content was very detailed as we had to cover various safety aspects of the courses as well as the techniques themselves. There was a lot to take in and to work on but I came back and passed my assessment a few months later and it’s been great getting out in ‘the field’ putting the skills into practice, I’d recommend the process to any prospective applicants!
Communications Manager. Born in South Africa, Kirsten has spent much of her childhood outdoors, and enjoys taking long walks through a variety of terrains to relax. An avid photographer, Kirsten almost always has a camera in hand, and spends much of her free time in search of new exciting locations to frame the perfect shot. She loves being around people, and (we’re not saying she talks a lot but) communicating is certainly what she does best!