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Alex is a self-confessed history nerd and award-winning researcher, with a love of travel and storytelling. Alex co-founded award-winning independent production company Grammar Productions, with the intention of making innovative documentaries that delve deeper into history and how it affects the lives of people and societies around the world today. His work has taken him to some of the less-travelled corners of the world, including the back-country of Sierra Leone, the remote Peruvian Andes and the insurgent-ridden southern Philippines. He learned to understand these very different places through studying their histories – best done by forming close bonds with the people who live there.
Alex's highly acclaimed films include We Were Kings, winner of the prestigious 2016 Whicker's World Foundation Funding Award, and his latest documentary about Burma's last remaining WWII veterans 'Forgotten Allies', which recently received its premiere at London's National Army Museum. Alex has also experienced life in front of the camera as the presenter of the travel documentary series Myanmar: The Incredible Journey, airing on Canal+ Myanmar and globally in 2019, as well as reporting on the mystery of Burma's lost royal ruby for BBC World News. You can read the full accompanying article here. He is currently planning for his biggest documentary challenge yet, The Last Overland, a 10,000 mile expedition from Singapore to London in a vintage 1950's Land Rover. The journey was inspired by the First Overland, which took place in 1955. You can watch Alex's showreel here.
Ash Bhardwaj is an adventure filmmaker and travel writer. His assignments have included travelling to Everest with wounded British soldiers, meeting the Area Boys of Lagos in Nigeria, trekking through Sudan’s Bayuda Desert and making a pilgrimage with his father’s ashes to the source of the River Ganges. In 2014, Ash joined Levison Wood for 700 miles of his Walking The Nile expedition, filming extensively in Uganda and the Sahara. He subsequently worked on Walking The Himalayas, Walking The Americas and From Russia To Iran. His solo projects include trekking through the Albanian Alps tracing the footsteps of the WWII Special Operations Executive (SOE) and travelling through Colombia for the Insight TV series 'On The Run' (Sky 564).
In March 2018, he embarked on a major expedition along the length of the new Iron Curtain, covering some 3500 miles over the course of 5 months. The journey became the subject of Telegraph Travel's first ever podcast Edgelands, reaching number 1 in the iTunes chart in its first week. He also fronted Barbour's SS18 campaign with a series of short films about the Jurassic coast. You can watch Ash's showreel here.
Ash previously taught secondary school Chemistry and Physics and he continues to volunteer in education, mentoring 6th formers. His articles have appeared in the Daily Telegraph, The Times, Huffington Post, Evening Standard, Sunday Times Travel and BA Highlife, amongst others. In 2014 he commissioned as an Officer in the British Army Reserve, where he serves in 77th Brigade.
Steve Brooks & Matt Jones -Silver Spitfire
Steve Brooks and Matt Jones, two intrepid aviators and the co-founders of Boultbee Flight Academy, are currently attempting a World First to fly a 75 year-old Silver Spitfire around the globe, travelling some 27,000 nautical miles and visiting over 30 countries along the way. The endeavour commences on August 5th 2019 at Goodwood Aerodrome in the UK, and will take in Iceland, Greenland, Canada, USA, Russia, Japan, China, South Korea, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Oman, UAE, Kuwait, Jordan, Egypt, Malta, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, France and Holland, before aiming to arrive back at Goodwood four months later. Not only is the challenge a feat of human endeavour and a test of the Spitfire's mechanical engineering, the expedition will also reunite the Spitfire with the many countries and communities that owe their freedom, at least in part, to this iconic aircraft.
Before becoming a pilot, Matt studied Civil Engineering at Newcastle University and worked in the City, until his desire to fly got the better of him and he acquired his private and professional licences. His first experience of classic aircraft was flying Tiger Moths in New Zealand, but he subsequently captained a Lear45 before co-founding Boultbee, the world's first Spitfire training school with Steve. You can watch a short film about Matt here.
Steve meanwhile has only very recently learned to fly a Spitfire in preparation for this epic journey. An avid explorer and helicopter pilot, he has already set two expedition records, having designed and driven the world's first land-based vehicle across the Bering Strait from the USA to Russia and in 2004, becoming the first person to fly a helicopter from Pole to Pole. Away from the excitement of flying, he's had a highly successful career in property development and is the principal of the Brooks Foundation, a charitable body created to support organisations committed to wellbeing and social change. You can watch a short film featuring Steve here.
Justine is an adventurer, senior NHS critical care physiotherapist and volunteer aid worker. Specialising in trauma, complex long-term rehabilitation, as well as acute and critical care (including Ebola patients transferred to high security units in the UK), Justine has worked at the Royal Free, London for 9 years. She holds a BSc in Sports Therapy from the University of Hertfordshire and a BSc in Physiotherapy from the University of East London. Prior to joining the Royal Free, she worked as a physio at West Ham United FC and Wasps RFC.
Away from the wards, Justine has led multiple cross-country ski, kayak and hiking expeditions in the Canadian and European Arctic. With a deep appreciation of science and history, Justine hopes to engage people in those subjects through her adventures. These include a solo 3,500 mile cycle ride across 15 countries of the former Iron Curtain, a 1000 mile walk along the entire length of Finland and a Via Ferrata climbing adventure along the WWI front line of the Dolomite mountains. Justine also volunteers as an emergency responder, providing care and physiotherapy in flood-stricken Louisiana, in Haiti following Hurricane Matthew, working with Syrian refugees in Greece and helping to rebuild the infrastructure of schoolhouses in Uganda's Kiryandongo refugee camp. Justine recently returned from a hiking expedition in Greenland and she also successfully summited Mont Blanc in summer 2018. Justine recently returned from the Canadian arctic where she completed a gruelling expedition along the North West Passage. You can watch a clip of Justine sharing her experiences here.
John Hudson is the UK military’s chief survival instructor, designing and implementing the training of instructors in Land, Sea, and Extreme Environment Survival. Prior to joining the RAF as a helicopter pilot, John studied Product Design at Leeds College of Art. He has penned the joint services survival training manual, revised the RAF’s aide memoir found in all military aircraft survival packs and advised on the UK’s SERE (Survive Evade Resist Extract) training film, watched by all service personnel before deployment overseas.
A co-founder of Survival Wisdom, offering specialist survival training to civilians, John has been a resident expert on two series of Discovery’s “Dude, You’re Screwed’ (‘Survive That’ in the UK), putting his expertise to the test in some of the planet’s most demanding environments. Amongst others, John has survived the elements in Asian and Central American jungles, the Arctic Circle and the high altitudes of the Atacama Desert. John recently appeared in Ed Stafford's latest TV series First Man Out, which aired on Discovery UK, USA and internationally in March 2019. You can watch John's showreel here.
John's first book, How To Survive: Lessons for Everyday Life From The Extreme World, was published by Pan Macmillan in June 2019 and hit the no.4 spot in the Amazon bestsellers chart in its first week of publication. You can find out why Chris Evans described 'How to Survive' as a "brilliant, brilliant book" here (@ 8.38am).
Amy Hughes is an endurance runner and personal trainer. In 2014, Amy ran an incredible 53 marathons in 53 consecutive days. This achievement secured her the no. 27 spot in the Telegraph’s Top 100 Britons of 2014. She also made the Runner’s World Top 5 Running Heroes of 2014 and ‘Running Moment of the Year’ at the prestigious Running Awards. In 2016, Amy took on another epic endeavour - the 7 Day Treadmill Challenge - running 521 miles in one week. More recently, she ran 400 miles in 14 days across the 4 islands of the Balearics.
Amy strives to inspire young people to keep fit, both through her work as a Dame Kelly Holmes Trust athlete and via her charity ‘The 53 Foundation’, which helps disabled people become more active. Amy's brand work has included collaborations with CLIF Bar, Panache Role Models, as a judge for Jack Wills' Young Brits Awards, fronting Zakti Activewear's marathon training campaign and penning a successful blog on RedBull Online. Her first TV series 'On The Run', filmed in Ecuador, aired on Insight (Sky 564) in 2017. She is currently planning her next epic challenge for 2019. You can watch a lovely film about her inspiration and motivation here.
Alastair Humphreys is an adventurer, author, motivational speaker, filmmaker and photographer. After completing his Zoology degree at Edinburgh and a PGCE at Oxford, Alastair spent over four years cycling round the world, a journey of 46,000 miles through sixty countries and five continents. Since then, he has walked across southern India, rowed across the Atlantic, run six marathons through the Sahara, completed a crossing of Iceland and participated in an expedition in the Arctic. He has also trekked 1000 miles across the Empty Quarter desert and 120 miles round the M25 - one of his pioneering microadventures. In 2017, Alastair spent a month busking with his violin around Spain, in hommage to Laurie Lee's travels in 'As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning'.
Alastair is the author of 10 books in total, including Microadventures: Local Discoveries, Great Escapes (William Collins), a concept he devised which resulted in him being named a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, and 'Grand Adventures', the follow-up title published to great critical acclaim. His previous brand partnerships include collaborations with Visit Britain, Molton Brown, Land Rover, Glenfiddich, Victorinox, Sea-Doo, Destination Canada, Cartier and Brancott Estate. He is also a proud ambassador for Alpkit and the star of Stowford Press' latest TV ad campaign. You can watch Al's showreel here.
Henry Jeffreys worked in the wine trade for two years, before moving into publishing, where under the name Blake Pudding he was a founder member of the London Review of Breakfasts and contributor to the Breakfast Bible (Bloomsbury, 2013). Since 2010 he has been writing mainly about drink, books and popular culture under his own name, with articles featured in the Daily Telegraph, Time Out, the Spectator and Foxed Quarterly, amongst others. He was the wine columnist for The Lady magazine for three years and more recently the Guardian's regular drinks columnist. More recently, he has been a contributing wine critic for the BBC Good Food Wine Club in association with Laithwaites and a judge on the BBC Food & Farming Awards 2017.
Henry's book Empire of Booze, a history of Britain told via the nation's penchant for alcoholic drinks, was published by Unbound in November 2016 to great critical acclaim, with rave reviews in the Guardian, Spectator and Daily Mail, amongst others. In spring 2017, it was voted Debut Drink Book of the Year at the Fortnum & Mason Awards. Henry was recently invited to the USA to promote Empire of Booze and discuss Britain's 'special relationship' with alcohol, including an entertaining interview on CNBC, which you can watch here. Henry is also to be found blogging at Henry's World of Booze and he is currently the Features Editor for Master of Malt. His latest book The Home Bar was published by Jacqui Small in October 2018.
Leon McCarron is a Northern Irish adventurer, filmmaker, writer and motivational speaker. His expeditions include walking 3000 miles across China, filmed for the Nat Geo series Walking Home From Mongolia, and riding a bicycle 14,000 miles from New York to Hong Kong. His resulting book The Road Headed West was published by Summersdale in July 2014. Leon has also trekked 1000 miles across the Empty Quarter desert with fellow adventurer Alastair Humphreys and their feature-length film Into The Empty Quarter appeared on the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour. Other adventures include exploring the route of the Santa Cruz River in Patagonia on horseback, travelling the length of the Karun River in Iran (resulting in the film 'Karun') and trekking along the peaks of the Balkans, in Kosovo, Montenegro and Albania.
Leon's latest book 'The Land Beyond: A Thousand Miles On Foot Through The Heart of the Middle East', was published by I.B. Tauris in September 2017 and documents his expedition experiences through Israel, Palestine, Jordan and the Sinai Peninsula. It resulted in a highly successful UK and US tour and was shortlisted for the Adventure Travel Book of the Year Award at the Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards 2018. Leon was also the 2017 recipient of the RGS's prestigious Neville Shulman Challenge Award. Leon has recently presented two acclaimed documentaries, the first of which, How To Save A Tribe, launched on YouTube's Real Stories channel, whilst 'Dufferin: Adventures in High Latitudes' aired on BBC Two NI in November 2018. In 2019, Leon has been undertaking a major expedition project documenting ancient hiking trails in remote parts of China. You can watch Leon's showreel here.
Amanda Owen is a shepherdess, mother to nine children, a passionate photographer and a Sunday Times bestselling author. Seen by millions on ITV's The Dales and Ben Fogle's New Lives In The Wild, Amanda and her husband Clive live a life that has almost gone in today's modern world, one ruled by the seasons and their animals. Home is Ravenseat, a 2000 acre hill farm at the head of Swaledale in North Yorkshire, one of the highest, most remote places in England.
Amanda's first book 'The Yorkshire Shepherdess' (Sidgwick & Jackson), was published in April 2014, offering an honest, inspiring account of her transformation from Huddersfield townie to rural sheep farmer. The paperback of her second book 'A Year In The Life Of The Yorkshire Shepherdess', published in spring 2017, headed straight to number 2 in the Sunday Times charts, spending 5 weeks in the top 10. Amanda has appeared as a regular contributor on ITV1's Countrywise, on BBC's Masterchef as a guest judge and as a panellist on R4's Museum of Curiosity. Amanda also writes a monthly column for The Dalesman, having previously been a columnist for The Countryman and the Sunday Mirror. Amanda's third book Adventures of the Yorkshire Shepherdess, was published in June 2019 and reached the no.4 spot in the Sunday Times Bestsellers chart. A 2019 calendar of her photography is now available from Dalesman Publishing with a further calendar to follow next year.
Amanda and her family recently appeared on Channel 5 in their very own documentary series, Our Yorkshire Farm, which attracted 2.4m viewers each week. She was also a roving reporter on the latest series of Springtime on the Farm. You can find out more about Amanda’s day-to-day family life and the joys and challenges of farming on her popular twitter feed @amandaowen8 and watch a clip of Amanda here.
Pip is an adventurer, writer, presenter and trained meditation instructor. A self-proclaimed hippy at heart, with a passion for health and wellbeing, Pip is a firm believer that connecting with people and the great outdoors is good for the soul. Pip studied History & Politics at Oxford University and subsequently lived and worked in Asia for five years as an anchor and reporter in Hong Kong and Malaysia, producing travel multimedia stories for the Telegraph, BBC, CNN and South China Morning Post, amongst others.
Pip’s journey back to Britain in 2013, to take up the role of Adventure Editor for Red Bull Online, was an epic year-long 10,000 mile biking trek, starting in Kuala Lumpur and taking in 26 countries. In 2016, Pip’s passion for travel took her on a 3000 mile cycle, boat and small plane journey exploring Brazil and Peru and raising awareness of the environmental issues in the region. From the mouth of the Amazon River in the Atlantic, finishing in Lima at the Pacific, Pip documented the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest and its devastating effect on the local indigenous communities. The journey resulted in a six-part documentary series, ‘Transamazonica’, which aired globally. You can watch the trailer here.
In 2018, Pip completed a major expedition canoeing the length of the Essequibo river in Guyana, from source to sea. A world first. More recently she accompanied the Royal Marines on their Norway 75 expedition, visited Japan on a spiritual retreat as part of JNTO's latest tourism drive and fronted AIB's latest brand campaign in Dublin. In autumn 2018 Pip embarked on a major speaker tour with the RGS and RSGS sharing her experiences of the Amazon, both of which received rave reviews. Pip is an Ambassador for Craghoppers and she also recently collaborated with BMW on their latest campaign. Pip is currently plotting a number of projects for 2019, including her first book. Details coming soon.
Levison Wood is an explorer, photographer, broadcaster and best-selling author. After studying History at Nottingham, Levison attended Sandhurst and served as an Officer in the British Parachute Regiment, including Operation Herrick 8 in Afghanistan. Levison’s journalism has taken him to Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, North and South Sudan, most of Sub-Saharan Africa, India, Nepal and South East Asia, with his resulting work featuring in the Times, Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph and National Geographic, amongst others.
In late 2014, Levison completed a 9 month expedition walking the length of the Nile, which aired as a four-part series on Channel 4 and Animal Planet in spring 2015. This was followed by 'Walking The Himalayas' (5 x 60', C4) in 2016 and both 'Walking The Americas' and 'From Russia To Iran' (4 x 60', C4) in 2017. Lev's accompanying books 'Walking The Nile' and 'Walking The Americas' have been Sunday Times bestsellers, whilst 'Walking The Himalayas' was voted Adventure Travel Book of the Year at the Edward Stanford Awards. In spring 2017, Lev embarked on a sell-out 23 date theatre tour 'An Evening With Levison Wood' across the UK, followed by further dates in spring 2018. His fourth book 'Eastern Horizons', about his experiences hitchhiking from England to India as a 22 year-old, was published in November 2017 and also shortlisted for the Adventure Travel Book of the Year Award 2018.
In 2018, Lev returned from his latest expedition, a 5000 mile circumnavigation of the Arabian peninsula, taking in 13 countries from Iraq to Lebanon. His resulting book Arabia: A Journey Through The Heart of the Middle East was published in the UK in November, accompanied by a major theatre tour, Journeys Through The Badlands & Beyond. Lev's 'Arabia' documentary series is currently airing on Discovery UK and across the globe. You can watch a short taster for the series here. He is also about to embark on a major new TV series, which will air in spring 2020. Details coming soon.
Lev's first children's book Incredible Journeys, beautifully illustrated by Sam Brewster, was published by Wren & Rook in June 2019.