Background. I was born and brought up in Fort William in the Scottish Highlands and have been interested in outdoor pursuits since I was a teenager. I was about 13 when I went on my first hike with a friend, where we walked to a bothy and stayed overnight. It was a freezing February night and I had no sleeping mat and only one of those rectangular, thin polyester sleeping bags that everyone has used at some time in their lives! It wasn’t the most comfortable night, but it couldn’t have been too bad either as 3 decades later I’m still enjoying the great outdoors.
Sub-aqua. For a number of years in my late teens and during my university days I enjoyed sub-aqua diving. I’m a BSAC and NAUI Advanced Diver and I taught diving in the Red Sea for a summer before going to university. I’ve dived extensively throughout the Scottish West Coast and through the Strathclyde Uni Diving Club was part of the 1993 archaeological diving expedition to survey the wreck of the Wrangelis Palais (1687) lost off the Out Skerries (islands) some 10 miles east of Shetland.
Climbing. I’m an SPA qualified rock climber (2002) and have been climbing for over 10 years. I’ve climbed in Mallorca, The Alps and extensively in the Italian Dolomites. In 2003, I climbed the Matterhorn with a friend, John Moore, from the Gwent Mountaineering Club (GMC) plus another three 4000’ers around Zermatt. (See The GMC newsletter for an account of the trip – especially the Matterhorn Climb recounted by John.) In the Dolomites Elaine and I have climbed numerous routes, including the Vajolet Towers (made famous in the film Cliffhanger) and the Torre Di Falzarago. Closer to home (in the Midlands) many of my outdoor challenges come from weekends in Snowdonia, Wye Valley (rock climbing) and the Brecon Beacons.
Skiing. I guess that I’m a bit of a latecomer to skiing … but seem to have picked it up reasonably well. I really enjoy straightforward off-piste terrain and am happy to be persuaded to ski (French) black runs. 2008 was the first time I skied in Scotland … the conditions were quite lean, which made it quite challenging. In contrast, 2010 was a bumper ski season for Scotland and I managed a couple of trips to both Aonach Mor (near Fort William in the West) and Cairngorms (near Aviemore).
Non-sport activities. I also enjoy photography, DIY, gardening and am very interested in geology, geography, social history, nature and the environment.
Last job role. I have an Electronics degree from Glasgow University, and an MSc and PhD from Strathclyde University. For the last 15+ years I’ve worked for QinetiQ, a major R&D company, initially as a Senior Scientist, but for the last 8 years as a Business Manager. In my Business Management role I had full leadership responsibility and accountability for all aspects of my Business Group’s profit and loss performance, programme (multiple project) delivery, sales and business development, business and technical strategy, staff performance & development. During this period I ran a Business Group of over 135 scientists and engineers conducting R&D in electronic Digital Signal Processing.
Background. Unlike Cameron I did not really get into the outdoor scene until later in life – actually not until I was at Glasgow University where I met Cameron! He introduced me to the delights of walking and climbing but as I had no proper walking attire I had to borrow his Dad’s walking boots, his Mum’s cagoule and his naff “Nevisport” hat … at least for a while. How he still laughs at those naive days!!! My first mountaineering exploit was going up the North Face of Ben Nevis. It was a glorious day and I remember thinking how privileged I was to be able to experience the breathtaking views first hand, and not just from photographs. Having my lunch on the summit surrounded by snow was just the best feeling and I have been hooked ever since.
Outdoor history. Since those early beginnings I have done quite a lot of mountaineering and climbing in the UK and some abroad, namely the Dolomites, Chamonix and Majorca. There have been many memorable moments but the one that just takes the edge (bad pun!) was climbing the middle Vajolet Tower in Italy. It was a long hard climb with every weather condition to accompany us but it was well worth the effort as the views were just spectacular. One of my more scarier moments was abseiling through a 40m waterfall at 11:30pm while descending from the Cioch on Skye – haven’t told the parents about that one! Cameron and I started skiing about 8 years ago and I just love it. We have been to France, Austria, Switzerland and Italy and we skied for the first time in Scotland in 2008, at Aonach Mor (shame on us for waiting so long). It was the hardest skiing I have done, as the runs were really icy and narrow due to the lean conditions. Still great fun though.
We both have mountain bikes, which have provided us with immense pleasure as we have been to places and seen views not easily accessible by car. I always remind myself, however, that although it is great fun cycling down a hill there will undoubtedly be pain going back up! Our bikes have panniers, which come in handy when we cycle to the supermarkets for our provisions and they will be used for carrying our small tent and equipment when we visit the islands with our bikes. We have participated in the charity cycle “Pedal for Scotland” for the past three years – 51 miles from Glasgow to Edinburgh – and I usually bake loads of cakes and sell them at work with the proceeds going to the nominated charities.
I have also tried sea kayaking around Arisaig on the Scottish West Coast. We were fortunate with the weather and the silhouette of Cameron’s kayak in the sunset was so picturesque. Seeing the seals bobbing their heads above the water close to our kayaks was particularly special. I remember that my shoulders ached for a few days after so I think a bit more practice to improve my technique would help!
Non-sport activities. I also enjoy photography, gardening, baking and shopping days with the girls!
Last job role. For the last 14 years I’ve worked for QinetiQ, a major R&D company, initially as a Technical Marketing Manager but for the last 5 years as a Senior Commercial Manager responsible for writing and negotiating the terms and conditions on multi-million pound contracts.