We employ the very best staff with an exceptional combination of professional experience in the field. These are world class practitioners, most of whom are senior leaders in their field and qualified teachers as well. With this team you will be able to go anywhere on earth, connect with people and places and learn a huge amount as you go. The life experiences that van be had on an adventure with the Polaris team is life changing and will help you find strength and versatility in a face changing world.
When you are out with us, we don’t just guide you, we teach you what we know. The leaders of Polaris Outdoor will coach you to become powerful in the environments you go to. Whether it is a UK winter in Scotland, or the deepest jungles of Borneo, you will learn to become confident and operate with great success anywhere!
Our Senior Team
Matthew Barnsley. BSc (Hons), QTS, IML
Director and Founder
Mat, Director and founder of Polaris Outdoor, is an experienced exploration geologist, specialising in remote, desert, high altitude mountain, jungle and arctic environments; working with the Natural History Museum Lima, the Bear Grylls production team, and has taken archaeological and paleontological digs to a number of regions around the world making ground breaking new discoveries with experts and students. Mat is also an experienced secondary school teacher, achieving senior leadership level. He has trained staff and principles, implemented new curriculums, and created outdoor education departments for schools.
Nigel Painter. MBE, IML
Nige is a senior officer within the RAF with over two decades of experience leading and developing the RAF’s survival training programmes. He is also an experienced International Mountain Leader.
He is a flight engineer on Hercules aircraft and leads a team of RAF survival instructors who teach pilots how to survive and thrive in all environments – Arctic, jungle, desert and mountain. He has trained military forces all over the world; has led groups in Nepal, Slovenia, Norway, the USA, the Arctic and the lesser travelled Antarctic. He has been awarded an MBE from the Queen for his services in survival training with the RAF.
Abbi Naylor. MSc, IML (T)
Abbi specialises in working with young people with specific educational, behavioural and mental difficulties. She is one of the most experienced expedition leaders in the business, summiting (amongst many peaks) Mt Kilimanjaro 18 times! She has also done sailing and yacht racing, sky diving, mountain walking and is a bushcraft and ski instructor. She is an advanced first aid instructor which allows her to create the safest environments possible for working outdoors. If you want safety and experience in the field it doesn’t get much better than Abbi.
Ian has been an expedition leader for a Naval Unit based in Portsmouth. He has led expeditions all over the world honing his skills in the harshest of environments, including being asked to join Sir Ranulph Fiennes on the 1st ever attempt to cross the Antarctic Continent in winter. Ian is one of only 5 people in history to ever have attempted this feat!
He is also a hugely experienced Sea kayak and stand up paddle board coach. Ian makes everything easy because he has been to the extreme of hard.
Naz specialises in everything remote, and has great expertise in the tropical places of the world. He has worked with Bear Grylls, Prince William and Kate Middleton, Gordon Ramsey, Sir David Attenborough, National Geographic, the Discovery Channel and Polaris Outdoor.
He has set up some of the longest and highest rope ways, zip lines and industrial roping projects on the planet!
Naz made a world record recently by climbing the currently highest recorded tropical tree in the world in 2018, and works with Mat in remote jungles.
Hannah Chivrall. BSc (Hons), QTS, AATQB
Senior Instructor & Office Administrator
Hannah is a fully qualified teacher and bushcraft instructor, with experience of teaching all ages. She is dedicated to helping others discover and learn to love our natural world, and provides opportunities for curiosity in her sessions. She trained with John Rhyder and was invited back to work with him at Woodcraft School, a great honour which gave her a solid understanding of a diverse range of wood lore.
“From an early age I enjoyed the freedoms to run wild and play naturally. Rivers and lakes, mountains and hills, woodlands and countryside, all play a big part in my life.”
She loves archery, wild foods, taking thinking walks, watching the dancing flames and glowing embers, crafting beautiful things from natural materials and growing things in her allotment.
Hannah is also behind the scenes keeping things organised and you can ask her for assistance with all stages of your experiences with Polaris Outdoor – there are no silly questions!
Shane is one of the youngest people to ever pass the John Ryder NCFE Level 4, the most prestigious qualifications in outdoor survival and bushcraft. This year long course is usually completed by people many years his senior. Shane has been to the Arctic and helped lead humanitarian expeditions to Borneo which included remote desert island survival.
Shane is a testimony to the skill of this team, and is an inspiration to people both young and old because of his exceptionally high skill level and teaching ability.
Our Junior Team
Charlie has been working with us since leaving school. He’s been both participant and leader on both our Arctic Winter and the Borneo Survival Expeditions.
He lived and trained in South Africa for a year where he became an instructor at the Outward Bound international School of South Africa. He is a rock climbing, abseiling, kayaking, canoeing and safari instructor and a natural leader.
Charlie is also a self trained blacksmith and an experienced carpenter. His excellent teaching skill and calm manner often has him training and teaching the teachers on our camps and expeditions.
“If ever you find yourself in survival situation, a Polaris instructor is who you would want with you. Be safe in the knowledge that they could not only handle anything coming your way, but could provide you with the skills to survive.”
Sam Ambrose. BA (Hons)
Sam is an experienced outdoorsman and a trained psychotherapist who has experience working with both young people and adults who face difficulties with their mental health. One of his passions is promoting the therapeutic benefits of spending time outdoors in the wild which is free and available to all. Sam’s understanding of psychological development and therapeutic approaches helps him teach people in the context of their own lives.
“Our individual personal well-being and mental health is of great importance. As an experienced psychotherapist I can help change peoples perspectives and lives through the courses and incredible expeditions offered by Polaris Outdoor. Its a real joy to see people develop and change for the better.”
Harry has been through the Polaris Survival training programme and has led our Sea Kayaking trip to Cornwall. Due to his exceptional leadership skills and team ethics he was recruited by the Scouts to lead groups in South London and later the Princes Trust.
His dedication to helping others is truly inspiring. Harry pays particular attention to safety and is 100% reliable and trustworthy. He is an advanced off shore first aider and is looking forward to a great future training and leading people in the outdoors.
David has led expeditions to Peru and managed construction projects to build water towers for indigenous people in the jungle. He is a strong and able practitioner in all aspects of outdoor education and pursuits, from UK based winter walking and camp-craft to international expeditions, and jungle survival. He has travelled much and experienced many of the harder places of societies and human habitations. With this experience he can teach people how to look for dangers whilst outdoors, then mitigate them to stay safe and secure: whilst also increasing individual confidence and competence.
Imi Barnsley. BSc (Hons). PhD
Imi is a PhD student investigating natural and sustainable methods of flood damage reduction in groundwater river systems. Her research is fuelled by a fascination with the natural world and a passion for the outdoors.
When not up to her armpits in a river, Imi can be found rock climbing, hiking, and triathlon training. She has a belief that connecting people with nature and the outdoors can have significant mental health and well-being benefits. She is eager to help people experience this through our camps, survival training and expeditions.
Graham Moates. BSc(Hons) PGDip MBA FRGS FInstLM
Graham has over thirty years experience leading teams on marine projects in well over fifty countries. His career developed from his passion with maps, and map making. Graham is a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management, and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.
Graham has given time to working with young adults, managers, senior leaders, and those volunteering through a number of charitable organisations. As a coach and mentor Graham has delivered on one of his key core values of giving back; by helping people learn a variety of new skills while developing their own personal potential.
He is a qualified Mountain Leader and enjoys escaping to the mountains and countryside as part of rest from his day job. Alongside this Graham is a qualified outdoor first aid instructor and is an ambulance service, 999, Community First Responder in his local community.
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