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MEET THE TEAM

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ANITA BRIDGER

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.

BEAR GRYLLS

Bear Grylls has become known around the world as one of the most recognised faces of survival and outdoor adventure. His journey to this acclaim started in the UK, where his late father taught him to climb and adventure.

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.

His TV Emmy nominated show Man Vs Wild / Born Survivor became one of the most watched programmes on the planet with an estimated audience of 1.2 billion.

Bear then progressed to US Network TV, hosting the hit adventure show ‘Running Wild’ on NBC, where he has taken some of the world’s best known movie stars on incredible adventures, including the likes of President Barack Obama, Roger Federer, Julia Roberts, Kate Winslet, Will Ferrell and Channing Tatum. Running Wild is currently in its fifth season.

Bear co-owns and hosts the BAFTA award winning ‘The Island with Bear Grylls’ on Channel 4, also now in its fifth season and this has sold as a format all around the world.

In addition Bear produces and hosts ‘Bear’s Mission with…’ for ITV, and ‘Absolute Wild’ for Dragon TV in China.

Bear is currently the youngest ever Chief Scout to the UK Scout Association, acting as a figurehead to 40 million Scouts worldwide, and He is an honorary Colonel to the Royal Marines Commandos.

He has authored over 40 books, including his number one Bestselling autobiography: Mud, Sweat & Tears, which was also voted China’s most influential book of the year for young people.

 

 

CHRIS SHIRLEY

OUTDOOR EXPERIENCE: Former Army bodyguard and Royal Marines Commando Officer. Has summited Mont Blanc and operated in all environments.

FAVOURITE ENVIRONMENT: The jungle – nature provides everything for you there, you just need to look for it.

LEAST FAVOURITE ENVIRONMENT: The City

BEAR GRYLLS EXPERIENCE: I organised and led a stunt with Bear crashing through the window of the This Morning studio on live TV – no space for errors there.

TOP SURVIVAL TIP: Be resourceful – everything can be used for second and third purposes, just use your imagination.

WORST GROSS EAT: Live witchetty grubs in the Ghanian jungle – they test like bitter pancake mix.

 

CJ CARDENAS

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.

JO CARLIER

EXPERIENCE:  Leadership and Team Development Specialist.  My PhD is in management and I am a chartered member of the CIPD, a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and am qualified in psychometrics. I am an experienced facilitator, coach and consultant used to working with senior teams.  I am also experienced in designing development programmes, experiential learning and bringing my expertise to outdoor learning environments.

FAVOURITE ENVIRONMENT: Mountains – Snowdonia is my favourite place in the world although the High Atlas are pretty special too

LEAST FAVOURITE ENVIRONMENT: I’m not a fan of wet and cold!

BEAR GRYLLS EXPERIENCE: I have worked with BGSA for 18 months, primarily with corporate clients who are developing their leaders and teams but also out in New York State working on the instructors’ course

TOP SURVIVAL TIP: Perseverance is everything.

WORST GROSS EAT:  Crickets…..and eyeballs

JOHN BREAM

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.

LEAST FAVOURITE ENVIRONMENT: Desert

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.

WORST GROSS EAT: Lug worm

JOSH VALENTINE

EXPERIENCE: Josh has been in the outdoors as far back as having had his diaper changed at the bottom of a canoe on the Delaware River. A lifelong outdoor athlete, survival instructor, guide, motivational speaker, writer, and adventure film maker, his passions include mountaineering, rock and ice climbing, and whitewater kayaking, though by his own admission anything to do with the wild will grab his attention immediately.

 

Josh’s writing has appeared in various publications, including Canoe and Kayak Magazine, Seattle Backpacker’s Magazine, Survival Cache, and WTSHTF Blog, and his adventure film background includes co-creating, co-filming, and leading the expedition for the adventure documentary “Hope on the Horizon.” He holds certifications and training as a Wilderness First Responder, in Swift Water Rescue, Glacier Travel and Crevasse Rescue, and Avalanche Level 1.

 

While his love for the wild has taken him around the globe, Josh retains a strong passion for the wilds of his native Northeast, home to his earliest and most defining adventures. Josh has navigated a canoe from the highest source of the Hudson River to the Statue of Liberty, and is 14 peaks shy of having climbed the 115 highest mountains in the Northeastern United States.

 

FAVOURITE ENVIRONMENT: Temperate Forest and Alpine Zones

 

LEAST FAVOURITE ENVIRONMENT: Extremely packed airport trams

 

BEAR GRYLLS EXPERIENCE: Josh has been the Lead Instructor at the Catskills Branch since BGSA came to the States three years back, and has worked for BG in Colorado, California, Nevada, Texas, Scotland, and England.

 

TOP SURVIVAL TIP: Attitude is everything.  Believe you can’t, and you won’t. Believe you can, and you will. The adventure begins when the plan ends.

 

WORST GROSS EAT: Deep Fried Pig’s Tail in Vietnam

KIRSTEN LOVEMORE

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!

MARTIN NORTON

NAME: Martin Norton

EXPERIENCE:  Martial Arts,Personal trainer, OCR/Adventure racing, Mountaineer, little rock climbing, survival enthusiast.

FAVOURITE ENVIRONMENT: Mountainous

LEAST FAVOURITE ENVIRONMENT: Cold Water

BEAR GRYLLS EXPERIENCE: Been working for BGSA since February 2015. Lead instructor on some 24hr Adult & Family courses. Worked on the 5 day Extreme Highlands courses, lead instructor on some corporates all over UK also worked in Ireland. Worked at all the Bear Grylls Survival Races.

TOP SURVIVAL TIP: Don’t get lost or Always backup your Backup!

WORST GROSS EAT: McDonalds or Locust

PAUL GARDINER

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!

RACHEL HILL

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 HEFFIELD

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

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.

WILL POWDERLY

EXPERIENCE: Mountain Leader, 20 years Alpine and mountaineering experience. Rope access specialist.

 

FAVOURITE ENVIRONMENT: Mountains.

 

LEAST FAVOURITE ENVIRONMENT: The office

 

BEAR GRYLLS EXPERIENCE: Head of BGSA Ireland, scouted for BG shows and assisted with creative concepts.

 

TOP SURVIVAL TIP: Trust your instincts, if it doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t.

 

WORST GROSS EAT: Casa Marzu, which is a fermented rotten sheep’s cheese. Tasted as grim as it sounds.

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