Margaret Davies, MSc(HR); PGCE; Fellow CMCIPD (HML)
I have had the pleasure of knowing Alan Ward for over five years in his professional capacity as an outdoors training provider and more recently socially. When I embarked on my journey to attain the Mountain Training Association’s qualification of Hill & Moorland leader, along with the NNSA navigation qualifications and REC First Aid, I had no hesitation as to what company to use, it would be Bigfoot Services having attended a half day free introductory navigation course with Alan. As a HR Professional and former higher education lecturer, having a good training provider who is able to identify and adjust his / her delivery to meet the learning styles of their client group is, in my professional opinion paramount. Alan certainly has that ability. His courses were practical, and made true to life with Alan always available readily imparting his wealth of experience with his clients. In 2019 I joined Alan along with 19 other clients on a trek which he’d organised to Everest Base Camp, what an experience we all had, everything with was so well organised. Alan had even ensured that we had a qualified doctor accompanying us on the trek compared to other groups we met along the way who only had a first aider, a simple but important example of Alan’s impeccable organisational skills and drawing on his wealth of experience. I believe that Alan would be a great asset to any company and would have no hesitation in recommending him for a position within your organisation. Should you wish to discuss further then please don’t hesitate in contacting me.
Jane Wood (HML)
I have known Alan for approx. 4 years. In that time I have undertaken training with Alan in the following: Hill & Moorland Leader, NNAS Silver, Gold and Tutor awards and First Aid Qualifications as well as Winter Skills training event in Scotland.
I had been dreaming for 30 years about going to Everest Base Camp, I had read actively throughout that period about all of my walking/climbing heroes who’d made the journey to Everest and was determined to go there but what held me back from booking with other organisations was the thought of signing up to a group with an unknown leader so when Alan made plans to take a group on this international trek, I had no hesitation to apply to go on this trip and my reasons were simple. Alan is a professional who has extensive knowledge and experience having trekked abroad in different regions (with many treks in Nepal under his belt) but more to the point, Alan is an incredibly safe leader - demonstrating at all times, the lengths he goes to to consider and mitigate risks. His background on ISO standards highlights his attention to detail.
This was a trip of a lifetime for me and on arrival at Lukla, I soon discovered that I was the first unlucky team member to be put on Diamox as my oxygen levels were lower than the doctor would have liked. This meant that my breathing was inhibited right from the start and I was the slowest member in the group which was stressful to me as I didn’t want to hold the group up. Alan stayed by my side the entire journey whilst also making sure the other group members were properly supported and continued to motivate me throughout. He was a superstar and I can never thank him enough for taking that approach as without him, my lifetime goal, may never have been achieved.
This was a very emotional moment for me walking into Base Camp …….. I still cry when looking at the photo which was taken of our arrival!
So in summary, I would have absolutely no hesitation in recommending Alan to you or any organisation. If anything, Alan would be a significant asset to any organisation operating international treks.
Helen Menhinick (HML)
I first met Alan in April 2019 when I completed my HML Training with him. Since then, I have achieved so much more than I ever thought I could and experienced more than I ever thought I would.
For all of these achievements and experiences I have Alan to thank for; his generosity, his style of teaching and his willingness to pass on knowledge and skills is unique, for example I have recently been able to observe Alan on some of his training courses which has been really useful. Training and achieving the awards is always fun with Alan; even when the going gets tough, his calm and patient nature rubs off on us all and our spirits always remain high. He has given me huge amounts of support all along the way for my personal achievements and my business goals.
I have lots planned for the future for me and Bryn Walking and with the support and endorsement from Alan, I am looking forward to many more days spent in the mountains.
Val Rogers (Project Manager)
One Tribe TV
In 2019 I completed a trek to Everest Base Camp arranged and led by Alan. He was very thorough and professional throughout as well as being supportive who all who needed that at any time, including the slower walkers in the group. Having experience internationally of mountain leading many walks and treks, I would recommend Alan and Bigfoot Services.
Tim Jasper (Design Director)
When I was led on Kilimanjaro in 2010 by Alan Ward, I was very grateful for his expert medical and first aid support as Kilimanjaro is a significant challenge even for fit participants.
This is partly because of the impact of altitude. Although most ascents are planned with an awareness of the necessity to acclimatize carefully the height gain on summit day in particular is substantial. Many have commented also that the impact of altitude on trekkers climbing Kili can be higher than on similar height peaks elsewhere in the world. Certainly I found this compared to similar ascents in the Himalayas.
Another factor is that essentially this is Third World travel and although trek conditions tend to me reasonable, both hygiene and health are inevitably more compromised than in equivalent activities in more developed countries.
On the day and night before summit day I was unwell due both to a stomach ailment and the effects of altitude.
Alan was able to recommend Cipro as treatment for my stomach bugs (a broad spectrum antibiotic), which made a substantial difference to my ability to complete the summit day, the very long descent after and to finish the trip in good shape. He also treated me with Diamox, which significantly moderated the effects of altitude and allowed me to summit. Throughout the most physical part of this trip he also closely monitored my hydration and nutrition needs. When engaged in this kind of activity at altitude even experienced trekkers can neglect this, partly due to the effects of altitude on mental acuity – and this can have serious consequences.
For most participants the journey to and summiting of Kili is a very large commitment, both psychologically and financially. Not being able to summit because of easily treatable and relatively common high mountain ailments would have been very disappointing.
I would strongly recommend that any trek to summit Kili had the benefit of expert and qualified medical support, both for First Aid – which is also quite likely to be needed due to the physical risks and injuries that are possible – and for the type of ailments that I encountered.
Paul Fairhurst (Project Manager)
Alan was the International Mountain Leader for a trek in Ladakh, northern India in June 2014. This was a trek with a difference. I am a walking quadriplegic and I was trekking with my friend Gregory Burns, who is paralysed in both legs through polio. We were accompanied by a film crew engaged by Johnnie Walker to produce a documentary film and photo journal. I recall my first conversation with Alan and how he instantly impressed me with his uncompromising focus on safety, balanced with his “can do” attitude to making an out of the ordinary expedition work and his experience of leading treks for people with disabilities. Over the following months Alan devoted a huge amount of energy and passion to helping me plan the trek. So, I knew before the trek started that we were in very safe hands. On the trek, I learned that we were also lucky enough to be working with a man with blends his strong professionalism with a great sense of humour, a sensitivity to the dynamics of the group and a huge heart. The trek was a great success and every member of the group will remember it for the rest of their lives. I’ll always be grateful to Alan for helping me achieve a huge personal milestone and I very much look forward to working with a man who has become a friend.