Graduating with English Literature and Philosophy degrees but without any inkling of a preferred professional direction, extensive and demanding travel in the world’s mountain ranges struck me as a sensible step. Employment as a mountain guide provided long periods in the Greater Ranges, deepening my commitment to the natural world and expanding my understanding of our need for journeys, both internal and external. Photography and film were a natural progression, and an enjoyable means of documenting these experiences, recording stories, sharing knowledge and offering evidence.
For me, visual media skills can find genuinely valuable application in two compelling sectors, which have interesting overlaps. The environmental / humanitarian field is one area: I’ve produced content for the likes of the UN, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as well as leading academic institutions, bringing world class research to bear in vital fields. In many respects we have the technology and understanding to tackle the crucial socio-environmental challenges we face, and film plays a key role in bringing evidence-based solutions to the broad audiences necessary to affect change: pure science becomes applied science. The second area, adventure storytelling, is a way of exploring the human condition, our motivation and commitment, as we struggle and endure at the ragged edges of our capabilities. Both, I’ve learned, share themes of humble heroism, the process of becoming, of change, evolution, connectedness and mutual dependency. It’s a privilege to play a tiny part in influencing the direction of travel.
Contracting Covid 19 was just the beginning, a harrowing bout with the virus continues to cast a very long shadow. For those suffering from Long Covid the path to ‘recovery’ is winding and fraught – across a spectrum of testing afflictions: prolonged grappling with the mentally draining aftershock, pervasive uncertainty and a creeping sense things may never return to the way they were. A daunting struggle, trying to push through the layers of doubt and depression, and the lingering grip of physical debilitation. An unexpected source offered gentle guidance – reading the patchy history of one of Lakeland’s legendary historical figures, Professor of Adventure, Millican Dalton, the combination of familiar fell side locations and a quietly inspirational philosophical approach brought some hope and purpose into the Long Covid journey. As if Milllican’s whispered encouragement adjusted the balance slightly and a pack, not shouldered for months, was on his back once again, and Tom wandered in….without expectation…just to be in that landscape, pass through that ancient woodland, sit in the cave, by the fire…and breathe.