Institute for Outdoor Learning > About Us > Who's who at IOL
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Who's Who at IOL

Click on photographs to read short biographies

Chief Executive

Andy Robinson

Andy robinson

Office Team 

Louise Keir
Office Manager

Fiona Exon
Media and Events

Steve Ullyart
IT Manager

Dave Brooks

photo of louise high

Fiona Exon at IOL
Steve photograph

Non Office-based Team

Neal Anderson - Professional Standards Manager (Email Neal)

Lucy Harrison - IOL Membership Marketing (Email Lucy)

Professional Development Team

Contact details for the Professional Development Team can be found on their respective Regional pages.

Professional Development Coordinators:

Wessex - Jo McCready
Midlands - Allan Gibbs
East - Bettina Maccariello
South - Bryn Beach 
South West - Julian Pierce
Scotland - TBC
North Wales - TBC
South Wales - Paul Donovan
Peaks - Matt Hutson
Northern Ireland - Tim Hodnett (Regional coordinator) 
North - Tim Deighton




John Crosbie


photo John Crosbie


Alistair Boyd

Photo of Alistair Boyd


Joanna O'Callaghan

Photo of Jo OCallaghan


Mike King


Elspeth Mason

Matt Healey

Matt Healey photo

Andy Simms

Andy Simms image

Co-opted Trustee

Heather Crawford


Max Norris


Emeritus Trustee

Tony Thomas


Regional & Special Interest Group Chairs

Contact details for Regional & Special Interest Group Chairs can be found on their respective Region or Specialism pages.

For biography information click on their names

  • Matt Hutson - Peak Chair
  • Andy Wright - South West Chair
  • Neal Anderson - Northern Chair
  • Tracy Evans - North East Chair
  • Stephen Dickson - Northern Ireland Chair
  • Vacant - East Chair
  • Mike Strang - Scotland Chair
  • Ian Harris - Southern Chair
  • Stu Meese - Midlands Chair
  • Jenny Wilson & Graham French - North Wales Chair
  • Richie Hamilton - South Wales Chair
  • Felicity Harris - Wessex Chair
  • Nick Winder - Bushcraft PPG
  • John Crosbie - Adventure for All PPG
  • Kaye Richards  - Therapeutic Outdoor Practitioner SIG
  • Elspeth Mason - Spirituality SIG
  • Ian Harris - Higher Education SIG 
  • Simon Waring - Employers Group Chair
  • Tom Davis - Field Studies PPG
  • Jon Miller - OEAP representative
  •  Heather Brown - Projects Manager
Office Team

Fiona Exon, Publishing, Media & Marketing;

Fiona has worked for IOL, or its preceding forms since 1991. She has qualifications and long experience in admin/management, event management, graphics and publishing. She is a 'soft-skills' outdoor person through a love of the countryside and wildlife. Fiona enjoys photography, exploring outdoors, bird watching, gardening and music. She has had photographs published in the national press and media and writes arts-based reviews and articles for various newspapers, national magazines and websites. Fiona and partner Hector are active in their village community projects; facilitating the village website, magazine and a successful broadband campaign.


Andy Robinson, CEO

Andy is married to Janet and together they live in Greystoke, Cumbria with Beth, Matthew and dog called Robbie.
Andy’s business experience started with training in accountancy, broadening into 8 years as a development trainer with Lindley Educational Trust and followed by training management in the legal profession. Andy spent the last 8 years as director of a national law firm before stepping out on his own this year. In addition to the IOL role he undertakes executive coaching and leadership training.
Andy’s passion for the outdoors and desire to share that passion with others stems back to his childhood in Ripon, North Yorkshire. Weekends were often spent in the Dales with family or through organisations such as Scouts. Rock climbing became his main obsession in the 80’s aspiring to the contents of Hard Rock but more often settling for a Classic Rock alternative! Scottish West Coast winters featured heavily in the 90’s demanding a certain degree of optimism and patience, as well as a 6 hour drive on a Friday night.
Working with Lindley 1990 – 1997 saw Andy’s enthusiasm for sharing the outdoors mature into a more sophisticated combination of pure outdoor skills and knowledge with personal and group development theory and practice. As a Trustee at Lindley since 2003 Andy has been heavily involved in the Trust’s focus back on young people. He has worked closely with Mark Williams and the Hollowford Centre team in the development of that centre’s capabilities and the addition of a new centre at Shinning Cliff Woods in the southern Peak District.
In Andy’s own words ..... ‘I am looking forward to working closely with IOL’s trustees, head office team and wider group of supporters. I have been hugely impressed by the developments in the outdoor industry since my direct involvement as a development trainer in the 1990’s. IOL has an important role to play in an increasingly structured and regulated industry. The Professional Development route of APIOL is an important element of that role and will be a real focus for me.’


Mike King, IOL Secretary

Mike has been involved in the outdoors for the last 18 years, starting on a Youth Training Scheme which eventually led him to become a teacher with various outdoor qualifications. In 2000 Mike started Releasing Potential which is a charity that provides long term outdoor education and other educational programmes to young people who have been excluded or at risk of exclusion from school as well as those who have been marginalised by society. Mike is passionate about using the outdoors as a vehicle to develop the individual and allowing the young people to develop through a relationship created with the outdoor education provider. Personally Mike is keen on most aspects of the outdoors but being based in the south means that sailing, canoeing and walking keep him busy.


Max Norris

Max has always enjoyed the outdoors from childhood cycling adventures, through Uni mountaineering clubs and worldwide travel; he finds the outdoors always adds richness to his life.
It wasn't until his early 30's after an extensive period of reflection that he discovered he didn't want to be an engineer any more and started his professional development in the outdoor sector. Initially he was heavily involved delivering lots of development training programmes to a wide variety of clients, Max is fascinated by people how they learn, this drew him to post graduate study and further research in this area.
After 19 years in the outdoor sector he still enjoys the challenge of face to face delivery and now has a wider management remit at Lindley Educational Trust including the promoting of best practice, this lead to being closely involved in the founding of the IOL Peak Region and the APIOL pilot their, taking on the role of regional co-ordinator for a few years, he is still an active committee member.
Max's personal interest in the outdoors is not particularly focused towards any specific discipline and it is often led by what his family is enjoying most at the time.


David Crossland

David worked in schools, colleges and outdoor centres before becoming a Senior Inspector for AALS. He has now moved back to a Local Authority and is currently the Head of Outdoor Education for Coventry City Council, responsible for Plas Dol-y-Moch OEC and educational visits advice, guidance and approval across the City’s establishments.
As a Licensing Inspector David commuted regularly to his home in the Pyrenees, unfortunately his current job means less time at home and more time speaking to his wife on Skype – sadly his springer spaniel does not understand the new technology!
Although he now drives a desk and a laptop David once had a good range of experience and qualifications in a wide range of activities, as well as degrees in Theology, Philosophy, and Education Management.

Steering Group

Heather Brown

Heather is based in Winchester in Hampshire. She started professional life as a teacher and then went into outdoor management development in Australia. Since 1996 she has been a freelance consultant, specialising in designing and facilitating leadership and change management workshops, together with executive coaching. Heather has been involved with IOL projects since 1999, in particular helping with convergence to form IOL in 2001, the development of APIOL and setting up the accreditation scheme. Her latest project is the development of the IOL Approved Training Provider service, which is being piloted during 2011. When she's not working, Heather likes hill-walking, sailing and choral singing, and she's just discovered the joys of Nordic walking!

Steering Group

Bettina Maccariello

Bettina’s passion is education in all its forms, personal development and spirituality. Starting her career with a medieval archaeology degree, she moved into secondary school teaching and developed various outdoor education programmes. Realising that she needed further CPD Bettina moved out of teaching and gained an MSc in Outdoor Education from Moray House, Edinburgh University. From then on she worked as an outdoor education instructor and Development Officer for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in Thurrock, Essex.
Bettina is currently IOL’s East Region PDC and Regional Chair. She works for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award as an East Region trainer, and is always keen to deliver workshops and move forward new developments. She is passionate about IOL accreditations at all levels, and has achieved LPIOL. One of her raison d’etres is enabling others develop their careers, especially newer practitioners starting at RPIOL level.
Among many activities Bettina particularly loves cycle touring, journeying, canoeing and running. Her personal motto is “nothing ventured, nothing gained”!

Professional Development Manager

Eluned Roberts

I started out as a Geography teacher. Realising the power of the outdoors as a medium for helping young people to develop, I moved into outdoor education and worked as part of Worcestershire’s Outdoor Education Service for 24 years (adventure and field studies). I have also freelanced as a teacher and trainer. Having accepted voluntary redundancy 2 years ago, I now work two days a week for the Institute of Outdoor Learning as their Professional Development Manager. My main job is overseeing the delivery of RPIOL and APIOL via the Professional Development Co-ordinators who are based in the regions. One of the best things about my job is meeting so many people who are passionate about the value of outdoor learning. I live in North Wales near Snowdon – I can see it out of my bedroom window when it’s not covered in cloud. When not working I enjoy climbing, writing, reading, films, and practicing Pilates (and eating chocolate and drinking dry white wine).

IT Manager

Steve Ullyart

Living just outside Carlisle in Scotby, Steve has been in the IT industry for around 18 years, working for the Royal Mail Business Systems Group and more recently CSC Business Systems Ltd. He has been climbing since the age of 5 and has climbed extensively in the UK, Alps and has been on two trips to the Indian Himalaya. Steve is also volunteer member of the Penrith Mountain Rescue Team, holds both Summer and Winter ML certificates and is a keen Sea Kayaker.

Steering Group

Liz Evans

Liz has been involved in the outdoor industry for over 30 years. In the early 80’s she moved from classroom teaching to working in residential outdoor education centres. She was appointed Head of Ardroy, Fife Council’s Residential Outdoor Education Centre in Argyll in 1993 retiring 17 years later in March 2009. While at Ardroy, Liz was able to turn her belief in the importance of professional development for instructors into a reality, by establishing a trainee instructors’ programme and registering the centre for Individual Learning Account grants to fund NGB courses. She also supported IOL’s Professional Accreditation scheme, becoming amongst the first in Scotland to gain the APIOL and became a mentor and assessor for the scheme. Since her retirement is still active in the industry and now has more time to indulge her passion for sailing her yacht, sea kayaking, hill walking and skiing.


Alistair Boyd, IOL Vice Chair

Born a Scot but grew up in England before attending a Welsh University and eventually ending up in the Peak District. Worked in the City of London initially, then a spell as an engineer before escaping to the hills to work for the YHA in the UK and abroad. Settled now in Castleton with a young son, several old cars and motorbikes and some livestock. beginnings in the outdoors were as a hillwalker but started rock climbing as a teenager and somehow survived the first years of borrowed gear, overconfidence and ineptitude. Still manages to climb and fell run a bit, and an occasional paddler. Just completed lots of fifty themed challenges (50 routes in a day, climbed on fifty crags etc) and ran the Edale Skyline fell race on most recent birthday – so no sign of a midlife crisis there at all. Greatest achievement? All the great friends I have met through work, climbing and the outdoors – although really the tolerant friends should take the credit for that.


John Crosbie, IOL Chair

John worked as an instructor in public, private and 3rd sector outdoor Centres in both the UK and aboard before running away to sea for 8 years. On return he trained as a teacher in OE at IM Marsh before joining the Calvert Trust, initially as Deputy Head and then as Head of Centre for 15 years. In 2008 he left to study for a PhD in Outdoor Education at Edinburgh University focussing on people with disabilities. After a break from his studies fulfilling the role as Head of Centre for Outward Bound Ullswater and Howtown, he has now returned to being a student.

Office Team
Photo of Louise High

Louise Keir, Office Manager;

Louise has worked in a variety of roles and settings, a Child Health Clinic, a Hosptial Out-Patients Dept, a Building Society and for Adventure Education Training co-ordinating the delivery of Outdoor Apprenticeships. She has an Open University degree in Biology & Earth Sciences. Louise lives in Weardale (above the snow line in winter!), with her son and daughter. She attempts to remain motivated to jog regularly, and splashes the odd bit of paint on a canvas now and again.


Julian Penney

Julian’s deep-rooted love of the outdoors and travel led him to study Geography at Loughborough University prior to spending six years in the Army. With a young family and now living in the South East, Julian gets less time in the outdoors than he would like! Julian works for World Challenge as their Global Operations Director and is responsible for the safety and quality of overseas expeditions for the 10,000 people travelling each year. He is also Vice Chair of the Expedition Providers Association, is Chair of its Technical Committee and sits on the British Standard committee for overseas ventures.

Member Services Administrator

Dave Brooks

Dave joins the IOL with an outdoor background having spent the last nine years as a Volunteer Manager looking after walk leaders for the UK’s largest guided walking holiday provider HF Holidays. Prior to that Dave spent six years with The Outward Bound Trust in a sales & marketing role and six years with the Youth Hostel Association. He lives in Brampton, close to Hadrian's Wall and was involved in gaining UK accreditation for Brampton via the Walkers are Welcome initiative. Dave has completed the round of Lakeland's Wainwrights and is now looking further north to the Munro’s of Scotland although with only 6 peaks 'bagged' so far, it could take a few years to complete!

Steering Group

Dan Whittaker - Spirituality SIG

Dan is a Qualified Teacher and Adult Training Co-ordinator at Frank Chapman Centre, Bewdley. He delivers Environmental Education, including Bushcraft and is qualified in most areas of Outdoor Education. He is responsible for the delivery of the ML, WGL, BEL, Mountain Bike Leaders course, Off site Safety Management Course, and manages the First Aid and BOF delivery. He co-delivers his Authorities EVC and Group Leader training.  Dan holds post-grad qualifications in Management as well as Psychology. He is an APIOL holder and Mentor. He sits upon the National Advisory Panel for BEL, is the Treasurer of the National Navigation Award Scheme and is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. Dan is also a qualified International Mountain Leader and has led expeditions in Bolivia, Greenland, Peru, Guyana, Morocco, Poland, Iceland, Norway, amongst others.


Andy Simms

Andy is Head of Service for Devon Learning & Development Partnership. Prior to this Andy was Centre Director of Blencathra Centre, Keswick before becoming Director of Somerset Outdoor & Residential Learning Service. Andy's work focus is on traded services within Local Authorities. Andy has an MBA and MA (Education). Andy holds APIOL and was Chair of IOL 2007 - 2010.

Matt Healey

I have worked in many outdoor learning settings in all sectors throughout his career, initially drawn to working with groups with complex needs and by an interest in the process of change and the role of education, in its broadest sense, as a tool for social and personal development. After a period of time in Local Authority provision, manager for the Outward Bound Trust and subsequently a Head of Centre for the YMCA in Wales I currently holds the position of Head of Education and Training for a large commercial organisation that has 10 UK centres, delivering residential education programmes to a wide selection of UK and international clients. Kingswood also delivers apprenticeships and training opportunities to staff as they progress their careers in the Learning Sector and my role in this is to manage and evolve the coherence of the curriculum and to make sure that the values and ethos of the organisation are robust and consistent and communicated across all education collateral. I am keen to explore the delivery of contemporary outdoor and experiential learning in a sustainable way, reacting to and attempting to influence the changing landscape in which our sector resides. I have climbed a few hills, ridden a few miles on two wheels and banged my head a number of times in dark damp places whilst trying to keep my head above water, both literally and metaphorically throughout my career. I am really pleased to be able to support the work of the IOL as I found my LPIOL process to be a most beneficial way to explore why I do what I do and how I can make a difference to those hundreds of thousands of people who go outside and explore ‘stuff’ every year in the UK.

Elspeth Mason

Self Made Pauper with a love of the outdoors…….

I grew up in the Lakes playing out in the woods and messing about in boats. It was a easy option to become summer staff at the nearby YMCA Lakeside, I never planned on it becoming a proper job. After Instructing at Bendrigg Lodge and training as a Biology Teacher I tried a proper job….. as a Science teacher for a few years then escaped to the outdoors again. Deputy then Acting Warden in a N Pennines YMCA Outdoor Education Centre lead to setting up Mere Mountains back on my home patch. Most surprisingly after over 25 years in the same ‘job’ I still love what I do, it changes and adapts all the time and most fortunately it still pays the mortgage and feeds the kids. What we do changes as we do and has expanded to employ several other people and to include JEM Training, Activities in Lakeland and most recently Lakeland Team Events. We provide a range activities and programmes for Education, Training and just plain fun!

I’ve never stopped trying new things, and as I get older I find myself going back and doing the sports I loved as a teen. Sailing, mountain biking and playing in the woods all seem to be back on my fun list I have also studied everything from forest schools teaching to counselling skills. I’m sure it’s the range of opportunity for activities and the variety of outcomes we support that is what makes working in our field fun. I had a phase of getting qualified in most outdoor activities now I let many qualifications lapse but am wondering if Bushcraft Instructor and Mountain Bike Trail Leader is suitably age and gender inappropriate for a women –of-a-certain-age rebel!

My career journey has involved the privilege of working with many amazing practitioners and serving as NCOETR chair in the 90’s resulting in me accidentally be one of the founding trustees of IOL – which makes me sound a lot older than I was! After having kids I took up the more sedentary challenges of editing Horizons and helping develop the APOIL accreditation. I then found myself standing as an IOL Exec member again. Now the kids are big enough to do more adventurous things the toys are coming out again, the adventures getting more exciting and I am watching them start coaching others –whatever they do in life, an outdoor lifestyle and adventurous attitude can only help!

Heather Crawford

Having grown up in what is now Zimbabwe, my earliest memories are of the outdoors - sunshine, the sound of fish eagles, bush walks and sport filling every spare moment…bliss! Throughout my school years I participated in expeditions and outdoor activities including Ten Tors and DofE. I took a slightly inexplicable detour into the world of floristry(every day is a learning opportunity!) however I eventually found my way back to the outdoors and have spent the past 25 years working in variety of roles - instructor, lecturer, trainer, facilitator - in 3rd Sector organisations, commercial operations and HE and FE institutions. My interest has always been in the development of individuals, helping them recognise and identify all the resources they possess and become the best version of themselves. I am passionate about learning and encouraging others to see the value in this and the opportunities it offers. Being a Trustee is an honour, a position I thought long and hard about before taking the opportunity, having been involved in the original development of the professional accreditation scheme, I am delighted to have the chance to be involved with the future of the industry at a strategic level. The outdoor learning world is changing, developing, and facing interesting times; I am currently taking a period of reflection to identify and plan the next 25 years within this, which allows time for walking, cycling, nights under the stars, exploring and photography amongst other activities and projects.

IOL Treasurer

Joanna O’Callaghan

As a farmer’s daughter, the outdoors was a fundamental part of my childhood. Summer holidays were spent outside, all day, every day. Having taken advice from my father for once in my life, I pursued a career in finance rather than childcare, on the rationale it would be an easier to change if I did the academic bit first. After completing all of my Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) exams and moving around the UK extensively for work, I decided to pursue my passions instead. I resigned from my comfortable salary, moved back in with my parents and returned to college to study Outdoor Education and can honestly say I have never regretted it for a second. The past eleven years have been incredibly rewarding. I have been a youth worker, a college lecturer and a centre manager. I am currently the Director of Somerset Outdoor & Residential Learning Service, with comprises of 4 residential centres operating on a traded basis as part of Somerset County Council. From a personal point of view, I became a parent in 2012 and I am currently enjoying the wonder of exploring the outdoors through young eyes all over again. Spare time is either spent enjoying what’s on our doorstep or venturing off to explore new places. Occasionally, ‘just for fun’ my brother and I will enter half marathons. I feel privileged to be a part of the institute and I found the APIOL process incredibly rewarding from both a personal and professional perspective.