LPIOL Profiles
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LPIOL Profiles

We'd like to introduce you to just some of the people who have achieved Leading Practitioner of IOL.

  • The profiles are personal rather than professional profiles and an insight into the kind of people who are successfully completing their professional development processes through IOL.
  • Move your cursor over the photos to see what they have to say about how they discovered the pleasure of the outdoors, their view of their future careers and other snippets of personal information.
  • Are you a holder of LPIOL status who would like to be included on this page? For the current questions to answer contact Fiona  .

Di Collins
Di Collins image

Dave Watson
Lawrence Chapman
Ian Harris
Lun Roberts
Lun Roberts photo

Bettina Maccariello
photo of Bettina

Doug Jones Bob Burson Bill Benyon
Neil Wilson Stephen Dickson
Bob Burson

Who are you?
Bob Burson, Northamptonshire

Tell us about your most rewarding experience of outdoor learning.
Just one ? You’re asking a lot. I’ve had a career of 40 years in Outdoor Learning - so here are four !

  • Devising and running a “life skills through outdoor learning course” for mainly special needs boys in a school during the early 1970s. Some of them still visit me from 160 miles away.
  • Running three week introductory Alpine courses for ten years through the 1980s. Clearly a life changing experience for the young people involved.
  • Being Head of Longtown Outdoor Education Centre for 14 years.The hardest work of my life in terms of commitment, but totally rewarding Helping many young staff to get on in the business
  • Twenty years of voluntary Board membership and work for MLTB / MLTE. Voluntary organisations need volunteers to run them.

What is your favourite piece of equipment/kit?
My top of the range RAB sleeping bag. I’ve spent many nights out camping and on bivouacs in winter conditions and at altitude. I will put up with almost anything during the day, but I make sure that I am as warm as possible through the night.

Outdoor learning is your career but how much of your spare time is spent in outdoor activities?
There isn’t much spare time, but this year I’ve been lucky enough to go skiing and have a trip down the Upper Nile, as well as climbing and walking in this country – not too difficult locally because I live on the edge of the Black Mountains.

Can you offer one piece of key advice to someone on outdoor learning as a career?
You’ve got to be committed – you won’t get far by regarding it as just a fun way to earn a living.     

Is there a message you would like to get across to the decision makers in education/government?
Examination courses are not necessarily the route to good citizens; we are going in the right direction with Learning Outside the Classroom, but it needs greater emphasis and policy changes.

How do you see your future role in relation to being a holder of LPIOL and the influence that you might be able to bring to bear in the outdoor field?
I firmly believe that the family of IOL awards demonstrate the highest levels of good practice which support National Governing Body Awards and proven experience as the prime measure of standards in our profession.  I make sure that they are included in job specifications where appropriate and I am an interviewer for APIOL and LPIOL.

And Finally.....

Question Time or Top Gear?
I prefer to listen to the radio !

Dave Watson

Who are you?
Dave Watson, Woodland Survival Crafts Ltd, Ashbourne Derbyshire

Tell us about your most rewarding experience of outdoor learning.
This is very difficult indeed as I have been so privileged in having many special moments which have touched/shaped me. The outdoors has taught me some of the most important lessons in life especially those which affect my attitude and to see something similar in students spurs me on. To give you one example a young man came up to me on day 3 of a 5 day course in a remote woodland and simply said “I need to stop smoking the stuff I smoke and move on in my life” Up until then he had been largely defensive and apparently knew everything like so many teenagers.

What is your favourite piece of equipment/kit?
My favourite piece of equipment I suppose will have to be my pocket Mauser knife made by Victorionox. As I write this I am waiting for its return by post as I had left it under some towels whilst on holiday with my relatives. I have had it for nearly 20 years and it has solved endless problems and been on every trip. I have recently got into the habit of leaving it at home as sometimes it might be seen as inappropriate with our present attitude towards knives so I had got used to not having it in my pocket, hence the temporary loss. I shall be glad to have it back. p>

Outdoor learning is your career but how much of your spare time is spent in outdoor activities?
My children love to be in our tent tepee so a few times in the year we will go off camping. This with a few good walks in the year is about all I can find time for at the moment. .

Can you offer one piece of key advice to someone on outdoor learning as a career?
One piece of advice I would give to anyone starting off a career in the outdoors is this. It is your attitude that will get you places more than your qualifications. If you are willing to give your work 110 % whether anyone is looking or not it will show and one day it will be not just noticed it will be the reason you get promoted or the reason why someone gives you that special responsibility you have wanted

Is there a message you would like to get across to the decision makers in education/government?
For those making decisions in Education and Government I say this - Don’t make choices based on the fear of something happening, listen to those in the know and do things that can equip us so that we can continue to inspire our young people.

How do you see your future role in relation to being a holder of LPIOL and the influence that you might be able to bring to bear in the outdoor field?
As far as my future is concerned as an LPIOL holder it is quite difficult to go into detail but I do consider it my duty to use my influence positively. One thing I will say is that I intend to challenge nonsense bureaucracy. .

And Finally.....

Question Time or Top Gear?
I don’t really watch either of them and especially now I don’t use a telly but I suppose it would be Top Gear since if I sit down in front of the telly I want to be entertained.

Lawrence Chapman

Who are you?
Lawrence Chapman, Deputy Head The Ashley School, Lowestoft

Tell us about your most rewarding experience of outdoor learning.
I’m lucky to work with a wide range of learners from those with challenging additional needs and learning difficulties to teachers on an MA course. My most rewarding experiences at the moment are whilst journeying with groups usually by canoe and camping in remote locations.

What is your favourite piece of equipment/kit?
Oh so much kit what to choose? My Swiss army knife. p>

Outdoor learning is your career but how much of your spare time is spent in outdoor activities?
Don’t have much spare time as I’m too busy canoeing / kayaking, off road biking, orienteering, camping, scouting etc.

Can you offer one piece of key advice to someone on outdoor learning as a career?
Don’t be in too much of a hurry, but make sure you take opportunities as they arise.

Is there a message you would like to get across to the decision makers in education/government?
My biggest “soap box” issue to stand up and shout about at the moment is trying to make qualifications and awards part of the QCF framework. This is especially the case for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. Is a Gold Award equivalent to an A level? If you ask employers it is, so let’s have it recognised then schools can get points for the awards and the opportunities for more to take part will increase.

How do you see your future role in relation to being a holder of LPIOL and the influence that you might be able to bring to bear in the outdoor field?
There is a lot of work to be done in the East, raising the profile and joining isolated pockets of activity. .

And Finally.....

Question Time or Top Gear?
Top Gear

Ian Harris

Who are you?
Ian Harris - Director of the school of Sport, Tourism and Languages at Southampton Solent University.

Tell us about your most rewarding experience of outdoor learning.
Having been on the Hayling Island Lifeboat Crew for nearly 17 years (recently retired!) I have many experiences where but for our actions people would have died - it doesn't get much more rewarding than that!

What is your favourite piece of equipment/kit?
Not really a gadgets person - but I guess my wetsuits - I don't like getting cold. p>

Outdoor learning is your career but how much of your spare time is spent in outdoor activities?
Less now than in the past - due to work pressures and a growing family. But still an active member of the local sailing club, and help out with Junior training.

Can you offer one piece of key advice to someone on outdoor learning as a career?
Work hard and play hard - the play is where you really develop the experience that enhances the work opportunities, and enjoy it - you could be doing many worse jobs.

Is there a message you would like to get across to the decision makers in education/government?
Don't measure the cost alone, measure the value of outdoor learning!

How do you see your future role in relation to being a holder of LPIOL and the influence that you might be able to bring to bear in the outdoor field?
Hopefully I can share my experiences and enthuse others to make a real difference to other people's lives.

And Finally.....

Question Time or Top Gear?
Top gear - if they do boats - but I'm not really a petrol head.

Doug Jones

Who are you?
Doug Jones, D-J Adventure & Consulting, Buxton, Derbyshire

Tell us about your most rewarding experience of outdoor learning.
Lots! probably taking young people to places totally outside their experience. Seeing places through their eyes.

What is your favourite piece of equipment/kit?
My lightweight backpacking kit, I love to go off for a few days in the hills with a light pack. p>

Outdoor learning is your career but how much of your spare time is spent in outdoor activities?
3 or 4 days a month climbing or walking and at least one trip per year to a remote place, this year it is Morocco in July and America in September. Oh, and skiing at least once a year.

Can you offer one piece of key advice to someone on outdoor learning as a career?
Don't forget what brought you into it in the first place. Be prepared to give something back to the field.

Is there a message you would like to get across to the decision makers in education/government?
Adventure is vital for the soul! All young people should have the opportunity to experience adventure on their terms not just those with enough money to go places.

How do you see your future role in relation to being a holder of LPIOL and the influence that you might be able to bring to bear in the outdoor field?
I want to continue to encourage real adventure in this world where gratification must be instant and celebrity is seen as important for its own sake. We need outdoor leaders who are still prepared to take carefully thought through risk with young people and themselves. It calls for judgement and sometimes you have to be prepared to stand by that. I will stand with you.

And Finally.....

Question Time or Top Gear?
DUH! Top Gear but Clarkson is getting on my Pip! It must be my age

Bill Beynon

Who are you?
Bill Beynon , Gower (Swansea)

Tell us about your most rewarding experience of outdoor learning.
Getting lost with a friend and colleague Chris Allen deep inside a cave on Gower called Tooth Cave. I had taken us through a series of passages and reached the end of the cave with out the aid of a survey, I had not taken any notice of which way we had came and stared to ‘flap’ when I could not remember the route back. I asked Chris if he knew the way back, he replied “nope” cool as a cucumber, I ask how was he so clam, his reply was very Don Whillans-esque, “worrying is not going to get us out of here”. I have been in a few tight spots since and felt annoyed and angry with myself but not worried. Thanks Chris it is good being 20 years older with this advice.

What is your favourite piece of equipment/kit?
Anything Patta-Gucci the best and most environmentally kit there is and it works. Thank you Mr Chouinard. p>

Outdoor learning is your career but how much of your spare time is spent in outdoor activities?
As a lecturer in Trinity University I have a lot of academic and administration work so any time I get out doors I grab with both hands.

Can you offer one piece of key advice to someone on outdoor learning as a career?
Listen, treat others with respect and kindness, find out what motivates you to do the things that make you happy and make a living doing them to your very best.

Is there a message you would like to get across to the decision makers in education/government?
Stop the no win no fee compensation culture. People need to take the responsibility and risks of suing, if they had something to loose there would be a lot less litigation. And give us paddlers rights to all waters in England and Wales please it is only fair.

How do you see your future role in relation to being a holder of LPIOL and the influence that you might be able to bring to bear in the outdoor field?
I will try to keep outdoor education out of any target driven education systems or targets out of outdoor education, otherwise there could be a serious chance of losing the essence of outdoor education. People connect to the outdoors and its educators in an informal way. Do we really need to measure its outcome every time we venture outdoors?

And Finally.....

Question Time or Top Gear?
The (it may be I am dyslopsic) Times please, the Sudoku in the T2 section is wicked on Fridays and any one of the other mags if they have pretty girls in them.

Neil Wilson

Who are you?
Neil Wilson, Warwickshire County Council, Outdoor Education Service

Tell us about your most rewarding experience of outdoor learning.
Accidentally capsizing a canoe with 2 students on board whilst in directly in front of Prince Andrew, a host of dignitaries and the TV camera's. To then see the capsize brought to life on the news later in the day. How to eat humble pie with dignity! Seriously - many magic moments whilst working with young people especially in wilderness areas or overseas on expeditions. Awe, wonder and achievement. Memories to last a life time.

What is your favourite piece of equipment/kit?
Anything new and shiny. No purpose or need required! p>

Outdoor learning is your career but how much of your spare time is spent in outdoor activities?
What spare time! There is never enough. I remember in my youth (relative to now) when there appeared to be less pressures on personal time and plenty of time for play. I still try to keep my hand in occasionally either linked loosely through work or via other opportunities when they arise.

Can you offer one piece of key advice to someone on outdoor learning as a career?
Enjoy every moment and take every opportunity available for personal development/new experience/consolidation and don't forget why you started your career in outdoor learning.

Is there a message you would like to get across to the decision makers in education/government?
Support local authority outdoor education or lose it in it's current format. Act before it is too late! We have the research and evidence which demonstrates the power of our work. Give us the means to deliver low cost/high quality activity.

How do you see your future role in relation to being a holder of LPIOL and the influence that you might be able to bring to bear in the outdoor field?
I would like to think that I can act as an advocate for the IOL's professional development programme having undertaken the process. To be able to offer support and guidence. As an individual and with colleagues I hope to continue to champion outdoor learning both to lever and influence decision makers.

And Finally.....

Question Time or Top Gear?
Easy - Top Gear with David Dimbleby as the star in a car - a little slice of culture in a testosterone laden feast fit for all petrolheads. Well the cinematography is award winning.

Stephen Dickson

Who are you?
Stephen Dickson, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Tell us about your most rewarding experience of outdoor learning.
Whoa, where do you start! I have been working in the outdoors for over 20 years and have had allot of rewarding experiences. At 18 I was inspired by attending Outward Bound Loch Eil for 3 weeks in 1982. It gave me the confidence that I was good at some outdoor activities and that I could maybe get some qualifications one day. I also learnt a great deal about myself taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and as a member of the Scouts association. These formative outdoor learning experiences gave me a passion for Outdoor education and a desire to make opportunities for others to experience what I had experienced. As recently as last week at Belfast Activity Centre I had a rewarding experience, I walked around the site when we had in over 10 groups in Centre simultaneously and got a real buzz from seeing the range of Outdoor learning opportunities taking place at one time. There were young people expressing themselves through, arts and crafts, drumming and environmental activities, others on the leap of faith, climbing, canoeing, kayaking and some down the cave. Each instructor was facilitating personal learning for their group and maximizing the outcomes through reviewing the sessions. To me the reward was in knowing that I had put the people and resources in place to allow the opportunities to happen.

What is your favourite piece of equipment/kit?
At the minute it is the petzel e+lite. I am a closet ‘gear freak’ and really like the design, practicality and long life battery. It has been used in a few emergencies while also being light and handy to carry. Jack my two year old also loves it for exploring cupboards and under the bed. p>

Outdoor learning is your career but how much of your spare time is spent in outdoor activities?
Not as much as I would want. The last few years have been busy developing the Charity, starting a family and completing a Masters. My personal activities include sailing, waterskiing and diving. I don’t teach any of these so I feel that I am getting away and learning for myself. My son has just turned two and has already been caving and canoeing with me. He loves scrambling about and I think he will grow into a climber. He spent his first birthday on a Gold Duke of Ed expedition in the French Alps and loved it. I am really enjoying introducing him to the activities I am passionate about.

Can you offer one piece of key advice to someone on outdoor learning as a career?
Tickets are not the only thing you need to collect to become an instructor. Personal experience in a range of environments at a challenging level makes a more rounded instructor. Challenge yourself with an activity you don’t feel comfortable in and remember the experience- that’s what your clients will be feeling like. If you experience feeling cold, scared and sad on the inside, then you will really focus on making sure any one in your care does not end up in this place. A wise man gave me three gems of wisdom first keep it safe- then make it fun and finally try to teach something new in every experience. If you do these three things the people you introduce to the outdoors will grow a passion for it and what they can learn in it.

Is there a message you would like to get across to the decision makers in education/government?
Our current system of education fails a percentage of young people. Others loose touch with the world they live in and the best academics can some times be the least able to communicate and problem solve. Does this not tell us there is a need to engage in alternative forms of education? Are we playing lip service to the “manifesto for education outside the classroom” or are we trying to build the world’s best education system? My challenge to those in power is to give us a day of your time to show what this sector can achieve given the right backing! The IOL office has my number if your game enough, after all Tony Blair went out in a dinghy and hit the headlines!

How do you see your future role in relation to being a holder of LPIOL and the influence that you might be able to bring to bear in the outdoor field?
I have spent my career trying to resource our charity, engage the best possible team of people and provide them with training and support because as a young instructor these things sapped my energy which I wanted to put into the young people I work with. If I am now able to influence change at a higher level and offer support to the next generation of outdoor practitioners then I will gladly give time to do so.

And Finally.....

Question Time or Top Gear?
That’s a hard one as I don’t get much time for TV and prefer Dragons Den, Secret Millionaire and the Apprentice. (Crystal maze doesn’t seem to be on any more!) Though I’m not happy about their environmental practices I must say top gear is a bit mad and more adventurous thought the presenters could do with a good personal development course!

Lun Roberts

Lun roberts photo

Who are you?
Eluned (Lun) Roberts, (Professional Development Manager for IOL until May 2012)

Tell us about your most rewarding experience of outdoor learning.
Like most people working in this field, I could go on forever about rewarding experiences, but the one that comes to mind today took place about 5 years ago. I was working with a group of 13 to 14 year old disengaged lads. At the start, they were very uncommunicative, looking at me with hard faces and blank eyes as I tried to engage them in plans for the week. Things changed dramatically on a scramble up the Gribin Ridge on the Glyderau. We ascended most of the way in thick mist, but emerged onto the summit plateau into bright sunlight, blue skies and a sea of cloud below us. Looking around, I saw the lads’ icy control melt and their eyes light up. Commenting on wisps of cloud drifting between tors of rock, one of them said ‘It’s like a battlefield!’ Not the most attractive of descriptions, but there was no mistaking the awe and wonder in his face and voice. From then on the group went from strength to strength. How many other jobs are there where Nature does so much of the work for you?

What is your favourite piece of equipment/kit?
I can’t seem to settle on one so am going to list two. First are my rock boots. They’re 5.10 Sirens, designed for women and fit like a glove. Women’s feet are different from men’s and it makes such a difference being able to use your feet without discomfort if your upper body limbs lack strength, reach or even a digit or two! The other item is the Invicta Mk 1 Clinometer. It’s easy for one person to use and the design is simple, effective and has the added advantage of making it easy to explain the concept of slope angle measurement.

Outdoor learning is your career but how much of your spare time is spent in outdoor activities?
Not as much as I’d like! However, I am becoming increasingly keen on a new activity that my father encouraged me to get involved in ages ago, but which I resisted until recently – standing and staring! (I think there’s a poem about it). It’s fantastic and I’ve even experimented with sitting and lying. I stare at all sorts of things – crab apple blossom, a robin’s nest, clouds, empty space – you name it and I’ll stare! When I’m fully retired, I plan to do this as much as possible with a bit of climbing and gardening thrown in.

Can you offer one piece of key advice to someone on outdoor learning as a career?
Think about what your work and play might do to your body over time and take action now to minimise any damage it might cause. Get advice, exercise opposing muscle groups to those you use regularly, ensure that you have any equipment that might help, use that sunscreen you usually leave on the shelf. It might be a bit of a pain, but it’ll be worth it when you can still do the activities you love when you retire

Is there a message you would like to get across to the decision makers in education/government?
Not in words, but I would like to arrange for all such people to be abducted (as committees or whatever other groups they work in) and given an Outdoor Learning experience. I (naively, perhaps) believe that would not only ensure future funding for our work, but might well solve a few other world problems at the same time. Shortly after I took up a post at a centre in North Wales, my line manager announced that the centre was likely to be closed. He then managed to get a group of councillors to visit the centre and go out with the groups. Later that month he announced that we’d had a pay rise! Unfortunately, politicians of all kinds no longer have enough time to experience what we do at first hand so we probably need to make the arrangements for them.

I don’t know how much influence I have, but I’d like to encourage more research and energy into helping people of all ages learn how to be happy – or do I mean content? I mean the feeling of well being that is the opposite of boredom and angst. Thomas Szaz said ‘Boredom is the feeling that everything is a waste of time, serenity, that nothing is’. So perhaps I want to introduce lessons in serenity. I’d like to attend them too! I’m hoping that being a part of the Spirituality SIG will allow me to explore these ideas futher.

And Finally.....

Question Time or Top Gear?
Neither – I prefer watching ‘Y Clwb Rygbi’ on S4C.

Bettina Maccariello

photo of Bettina

Who are you?
Bettina Maccariello, IOL Professional Development Coordinator (East Region), Trainer and volunteer for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. I live in Thurrock, Essex

Tell us about your most rewarding experience of outdoor learning.
Cycle touring around the Shetland Islands. A fabulous place with amazing bird life, scenery and culture. I was totally fascinated learning about the ‘Shetland Bus’, using small fishing boats to link occupied Norway and the Shetlands to take supplies and saboteurs into the fjords under the noses of the Germans and taking refugees to safety on the return journey.

What is your favourite piece of equipment/kit?
Outdoor learning is your career but how much of your spare time is spent in outdoor activities? Tons! I love getting out there!

Outdoor learning is your career but how much of your spare time is spent in outdoor activities?
Tons! I love getting out there!

Can you offer one piece of key advice to someone on outdoor learning as a career?
Don’t become an ‘indoor outdoor person’! It’s too easy to deliver courses, sit at management and other meetings etc. We need to practice what we preach, to keep up our skills, and “live the life we love, love the life we live”.

Is there a message you would like to get across to the decision makers in education/government?
Young people need to be taught the skills to come to love learning. That’s what education’s about.

How do you see your future role in relation to being a holder of LPIOL and the influence that you might be able to bring to bear in the outdoor field?
I want to continue to help and enable practitioners develop their careers. The IOL accreditations are a fantastic way to facilitate people on their reflective journey. I see it as a privilege to work with applicants at all levels on the accreditation journey. Being a PDC puts me in pole position to help this happen!

And Finally.....

Question Time or Top Gear?
Actually, the Tour de France! How do cyclists keep on riding at that intensity for about three weeks? Without drugs?!? Something to be admired!!!

Di Collins

Di Collins image









Who are you?
Di Collins, Outdoor and Community Education Facilitator and Consultant, who dreams of becoming famous for just one photograph. I’m sometimes ‘retired’, sometimes deliver training, sometimes a DofE expedition assessor, and sometimes a consultant. I’m based in Hampshire.

Tell us about your most rewarding experience of outdoor learning.
I was awarded a Churchill Fellowship and travelled to Australia, exploring the many ways in which people make connections with nature, ranging from environmental arts and storytelling to wildlife tracking and learning about natural antiseptics. The Fellowship has had an enormous impact on the ways in which I work with people in the outdoors. It’s easy to forget that not everyone is enthusiastic about the outdoors and that some people are only ‘turned on’ by what seems to them to be a non-physical way of relating to the outdoors.

What is your favourite piece of equipment/kit?
I’m never without a camera, but apart from that, it has to be my Robert Saunders Spacepacker Tent. It’s light enough and small enough to push into my rucsac and I hardly notice that I’m carrying it. I erect it in minutes and there’s loads of space to stow away my gear. It’s extremely stable in the strongest of winds … and I can even sleep in it at WOMAD, with people tripping over the guy lines.

Outdoor learning is your career but how much of your spare time is spent in outdoor activities?
I get ‘cabin fever’ if I’m stuck indoors all day. If I have a day of working at home, I gravitate into the garden and end up having to work into the night to meet deadlines. I live in a city, but at the end of my road is Langstone Harbour, and I can be at a relatively wild stretch of coast within 15 minutes. I sometimes drive my van down to the sea, on the pretext of using it as a mobile office. This may not be particularly green, but is important for my sense of well-being. However, my real love is mountains.

Can you offer one piece of key advice to someone on outdoor learning as a career?
You may work in the outdoors because you love particular landscapes or activities, but at the heart of outdoor learning is the individual. You are supporting them to achieve. Your buzz will be seeing them achieve. However, remember that you also need to maintain your excitement at facing your own personal challenges in the outdoors.

Is there a message you would like to get across to the decision makers in education/government?
Cutting opportunities for outdoor and environmental learning is short-sighted. Our planet is fragile. Its resources need to be used with sensitivity. How can a person be expected to understand and care for something that they have not experienced first-hand?

How do you see your future role in relation to being a holder of LPIOL and the influence that you might be able to bring to bear in the outdoor field?
I am surprised at LPIOL’s impact and the focus it has given me. It has spurred me to get on with some of the things that I was always planning to do ‘when I had a bit of spare time’, such as writing. I find myself looking at the IOL website more regularly, and volunteering to do things. I also notice that I’m again becoming more active in the outdoors – there’s no point in being an armchair LPIOL. I certainly see that it is my responsibility to raise the profile of outdoor learning in the many areas in which I’m involved.

And Finally.....

Question Time or Top Gear?
Neither. The bombastic attitudes I hear on both programmes wind me up. For escapism I much prefer Time Team and Coast, and anything with David Attenborough … although I do have to admit to viewing Neighbours.