What are you doing now and where are you living?
I’m living in Brixton, South London, on maternity leave from my job as a TV Producer.
What were your reasons for going on Expedition?
I wanted to volunteer a small amount of my time to do something ‘good’ for other people and my research led me to a very inspirational talk at Raleigh Head office. I certainly didn’t plan to leave my job and boyfriend and go away for 3 months solid! It was a huge and unexpected opportunity for adventure, especially as I hadn’t taken any sort of break from education to starting work and had been in the same job for 6 years –I realised I suddenly had the chance to actually do something I’d always dreamed I’d only have time for when I retired.
That, and the fact that I’d never done anything ‘outdoorsy’ before –and I’d always envied the contestants on the Krypton Factor getting muddy on the assault course!
What’s your fondest memory of Expedition life…
Every single moment! I found I was unexpectedly resilient and I have extremely fond memories of many outdoor toilets. The long drop we built in the rainforest allowed us to be particularly close to nature, and it had a comfy plastic seat duct taped to a bamboo frame. I fell down it on the first day –luckily it hadn’t started to fill up yet!
I felt a massive sense of unexpected achievement in all aspects of Expedition life. I enjoyed mentoring the venturers, doing hard physical labour, and getting to live, eat and work with the amazingly friendly locals. I also really enjoyed the alcohol-free fancy dress parties at changeover –and photographing the crazy bugs and beasties.
…and the least?
The trek was tough. But the sense of achievement was worth it. The hardest thing for me was desperately wanting to share my adventures with my boyfriend who I had to leave behind. But it’s inspired us to travel and trek around the world together since –bringing us closer together and broadening both of our experiences.
What impact did Raleigh have on your life professionally?
It totally changed my career path. I used the courage I’d gained from Expedition and entered the unknown by going freelance on my return. I focussed completely on the seemingly impossible ‘dream’ jobs (those that have a social impact) and I achieved them, which has been hugely satisfying.
What impact did Raleigh have on your life personally?
Raleigh taught me first-hand about the huge inequalities in the world, and showed me the massive environmental impact we’re having on countries far away from the UK. I have become passionate about doing something to make a difference and have become hugely involved in volunteering in my community.
I’ve started a street party, a neighbourhood watch, a ‘snow warden’ scheme, held ‘draught-busting’ events, written articles for the local paper and helped charities make films.
Now I’m a new mum, I’m a breastfeeding peer support worker and I go to children’s centres to talk to parents about cloth nappies. I fill my personal time with community work and it has massively enriched my life.
Also –I kept thinking of Raleigh while I was in labour with my first child. I figured If I’d survived the exhaustion of carrying myself and my backpack up and down all those huge mountains during my trek, I knew I could manage labour with no problems!
Did your Expedition impact the way you see the world?
Hugely. I have become passionate about environmental issues and believe that a powerful sense of community is the key to many of the world’s problems.
In a sentence, how would you sum up your Raleigh experience?
Raleigh totally changed my life. I now know from experience that anything is possible and I’m strong enough to make it happen.