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Meet the Team



Anita is our Reservations Manager here at BGSA and has been working with us for the last 3 years after returning from maternity leave. Although not originally a huge outdoor enthusiast herself, she can be found getting involved at corporate events (when she isn’t needed in the office) where she has the opportunity to put names to faces she can regularly be heard chatting away to on the phone. Anita is passionate about all courses we offer here at the academy and is generally the first person you will speak to with when contacting the academy.


CJ Cardenas currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Bear Grylls Survival Academy.

Prior to joining BGSA,  CJ started his career in entertainment with a 4 year stint at Bear Grylls Ventures (BGV) – the media, branding and licensing firm of the world renowned adventurer and TV personality Bear Grylls.  CJ joined BGV in May of 2012 as the Head of Business Affairs where he was in charge of business strategy and deal negotiation across a wide spectrum of specialties including television (production and talent deals), endorsements, licensing, merchandising, publishing, speaking engagements and strategic joint ventures.

CJ is professionally trained in corporate finance and started his career in investment banking at Bank of America Securities (now Bank of America / Merrill Lynch) where he would spend a total of 7 years covering the technology and real estate sectors.  CJ is also a successful entrepreneur having started and sold businesses in the service industry.  CJ is based in Los Angeles where he relocated in 1999 to attend Pepperdine University in Malibu.


Bear Grylls has become known worldwide as one of the most-recognized faces of survival and outdoor adventure.  His journey to this acclaim started on a small island off the UK coast, where his late father taught him to climb and sail. Trained from a young age in martial arts, Grylls went on to spend three years as a soldier in the British Special Forces, as part of 21 SAS Regiment. It was here that he perfected many of the survival skills that his fans all over the world enjoy, as he pits himself against the worst of Mother Nature. Despite a free-fall parachuting accident in Africa, where he broke his back in three places and endured many months in military rehabilitation, Grylls went on to become one of the youngest climbers ever to reach the summit of Mount Everest.

He then went on to star in seven seasons of the Discovery Channel’s Emmy Award-nominated “Man vs. Wild” TV series, which became one of the most-watched shows on the planet, reaching an estimated 1.2 billion viewers. Since then he has gone on to host more extreme adventure TV shows across more global networks than anyone else in the world, including the BAFTA award-winning The Island with Bear Grylls and BAFTA award-winning Bear Grylls Survival School. In addition Bear produces and hosts ‘Bear’s Mission with…’ for ITV, NBC’s ‘Running Wild’, ‘Absolute Wild’ for Dragon TV in China and ‘Face the Wild’ for Facebook Watch. He is a number 1 bestselling Author, an Honorary Colonel to the Royal Marine Commandos and the youngest-ever Chief Scout, and inspiration to fifty million Scouts worldwide.




EXPERIENCE: Former member of The Parachute Regiment, served around the world and on operational tours of Northern Ireland, Iraq, and was in the first main battle group into southern Afghanistan’s Helmand Province. Boxed for the paras and became the Army Feather weight Champion. Upon leaving the paras trained in tree surgery and became a professional tree climber, before joining the Bear Grylls Survival Academy. A keen survivalist willing to push boundaries in any location

FAVOURITE ENVIRONMENT: British Isles, what a lovely island.


BEAR GRYLLS EXPERIENCE: Worked for the Bear Grylls Survival Academy for nearly 2yrs and have run 24hr courses, family courses, corporate events and extreme courses all over Britain and Ireland and has worked as part of the crew on Bear’s most recent UK TV shows.

TOP SURVIVAL TIP: Have a lighter – if that doesn’t work, use your spare lighter… if that doesn’t work use your emergency lighter! A good sense of humour will see you through adversity.



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!


NAME: Martin Norton

EXPERIENCE:  Previous managerial and mentor role within the public sector.  Martin has also trained in many different martial arts styles before becoming a full time coach/teacher where he had the opportunity of training alongside some of the best instructors in the world before venturing into the outdoors where he started climbing and mountaineering throughout the UK and Europe.  Martin has a particular passion for winter mountaineering and in 2018 is looking to set a world first involving kayaks and mountains (watch this space!)…….



BEAR GRYLLS EXPERIENCE: Over the last 3 years whilst with the academy, I have worked as a lead instructor on family courses, adult and extreme courses in various locations. In addition to overseeing and running our Cowdray courses based in Sussex, I spend most of my time now leading corporate training courses worldwide. I have also project managed and worked with Bear on the BG Survival Race, worked as ropes safety supervisor for 20th Century Fox and worked behind the scenes on a BGV/ITV survival production as a safety consultant.

TOP SURVIVAL TIP: Always backup your backup!



Stores and Logistics Coordinator.
I joined Surrey Constabulary, aged 21, in January 1987. I was posted to Godalming as a patrol officer and a year after arriving there, trained and joined a Police Support Unit (Riot police).
I worked at Godalming for thirteen years, and during this time I became a Personal Safety Trainer, instructing colleagues, recruits, volunteers and civilians how to defend themselves and use PPE. I also became a First Aid Instructor and Police Support Unit Medic. After three years at Farnham co-ordinating the divisional response to public order issues, I spent twelve months on secondment to Iraq, where I jointly ran the Officer Safety Training/Firearms arm of an academy re-training Iraqi Police Officers. In 2006 I transferred to the Metropolitan Police, SO18 Aviation Security, which is the armed unit, that protects Heathrow. Alongside the firearms role I continued and advanced my Medic Training.
I spent seven years in this position before moving to a less demanding role on the Neighbourhood Team at the airport. I spent the remaining years of my service liaising with airport stakeholders and delivering safety and other presentations to airport workers. I retired after thirty years service in January 2017. I am now a carpenter, but am very practical and can turn my hand to almost anything. I assist with guided motorcycle tours of WWI and WWII battlefields in France. When I get time to myself I walk, ride motorbikes and use the gym.
Many years ago I nearly trained to be a chef and still enjoy cooking good food and won’t be eating weird Bear Grylls stuff. I hope. I am 52 years old and live in Guildford with my family.


I am Paul Gardiner, MD of  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!


EXPERIENCE: Police Trainer in Personal Safety, Public Order and First Aid.  I have a Certificate in Education and an A1 assessor qualification.

I have summited Mont Blanc, Gran Paradiso, Ben Nevis in full winder conditions via the North Face, Tryfan and Snowdon also all in full winder conditions. I have climbed several other peaks within the UK.

FAVOURITE ENVIRONMENT: Hard to have one favourite, The Alps, The Lake District and the seaside

LEAST FAVOURITE ENVIRONMENT: In a cave/confined spaces and on bridges that are over water!!

BG experience: Have been teaching and assessing on the EATS, (or PTLLS as was), since the courses began.

TOP SURVIVAL TIP: Look after your feet, as soon as you feel uncomfortable, stop and sort out the problem, it’ll save a whole lot of pain later.

WORST GROSS EAT: I think I must have been lucky and gotten away with it so far….live meal worms have been the worst, these seem to be common on the assessment day ~ maybe someone will bring something really disgusting for me to eat one day???


Rachel is the Operations 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!”


Scott has been involved in teaching and training now for over 27 years in a variety of subjects ranging from self-defense training to 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 and specialist Commando skills such as unarmed combat to fitness training, fitness testing, climbing, abseiling and adventurous training.

After leaving the Royal Marines he joined the Police Service and after a period as an operational Police Officer, became a Police recruit tutor, Self-Defense Instructor, a PSU instructor (Riot Control), qualified as a Taser Instructor and worked as part of numerous Specialist Police Support teams. During this period, Scott continued to climb and was involved in the planning, organization and the leading of adventurous 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 and working in the Himalaya, USA, China, and Russia and almost a year living and working in Antarctica speak for themselves.

Over the last 12 years he has been working on British TV depicted as a motivational expert for channels such as BBC1, BBC2 and ITV. Behind the camera, Scott puts his experience to work as a member of Bears Safety Team working as a high ropes technician, crew safety supervisor, survival expert, adventurous activity coordinator and specialist logistics coordinator on shows such as Born Survivor/Man V Wild, Wild Weekend, Running Wild, Get Out Alive and Britain’s Biggest Adventures. More recently Scott has featured alongside Bear on ITV’s Mission Survive and the Bear Grylls Survival School series on CITV. Scott is now an integral part of the team for the Bear Grylls Survival Academy with his focus as Project Development Manager. He is busy these days either filming in extreme environments with Bear, developing new projects worldwide or 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.



Steve Holt has been with the company for 15 years and is the Financial Director of BGSA, Mantis Collection and Worldwide Experience. He has travelled extensively,  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 the Bear Grylls brand, around the world. He is known in the office as “The Stig”, due to his other passion for motor sports – he has attended Formula One Grand Prix in 11 countries, as well as the Le Mans 24 hour race, in France.


NAME: Matt Bragg

EXPERIENCE: Ex Royal Marine and outdoor enthusiast.



BEAR GRYLLS EXPERIENCE: I started with BGSA in May 2013 and assisted in setting up the academy in Surrey in company with Scott Heffield.
I relocated to the South west in 2014 and set up 24hr Dartmoor courses and lowlands survival courses. I’ve also helped set up the 24 hour courses in Colorado and California.

TOP SURVIVAL TIP: always keep a dry tinder bundle on you and a means of lighting it.

WORST GROSS EAT: Apart from Dom’s cooking in the highlands the worms in America were especially gooey and gritty!


Kirsten has recently become a part of BGSA and provides assistance with the administration and logistical side of the business. He joined the BGSA team after previously being involved in the hotel trade and completing his studies in International Hospitality Management, where his university campus in South Africa forms part of the Mantis Collection. Originally from South Africa, Kirsten is a big sport and outdoors fanatic, and when not in the office can mostly be found outdoors on a sports field or doing some kind of activity. Kirsten is positive about BGSA and what the Academy has to offer, and encourages everyone to take themselves out of their comfort zone and learn something new.

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