Unsung Heroes

Jack Aston-Hull

Jack is a 22 year old outdoor activity Instructor from Birmingham who has had a passion for the outdoors since he was 6 years old. Having been a scout and taken part in the Duke of Edinburgh awards he then moved into outdoor instructing leading activities like rock climbing, abseiling and survival techniques. He is a key instructor at the Bear Grylls Adventure and currently training to become a Bear Grylls Survival Academy instructor too, but this is just the start of his career in adventure...

What was the path that lead you to today?

My Path is kind of an unusual one, I mean, I didn't follow the traditional routes of going to university, for a time I thought I wanted to but that came from my surroundings and not actually from me. I could have pursued a degree in Geology, which is what I was studying at college at the time but I decided to take an apprenticeship in outdoor instructing. I chose the centre that was as far away from home as I could, to challenge myself and experience it to the fullest and I did. I thrived working with groups: the interaction, the fun, the education, the adventure! Some of my greatest memories are from these times, I made my way through the ranks becoming a senior group leader after my 1 year apprenticeship, moving towards guest service, all this was amazing until the call for a change and the pull of home got louder. So I moved back to Birmingham and became a team leader for the Bear Grylls Adventure, the brand new attraction that opened at the NEC. Being on site since day 1 has been an amazing experience and I've had the pleasure of leading such an amazing team. I'm trying something different now and doing more work outside again with Bear Grylls Survival Academies, Bear Grylls Adventure and Duke of Edinburgh so who knows where my path leads now...

Who inspired you to do what you do?

Inspiration comes in so many forms. My family have always inspired me by just being them and being behind me no matter what, my friends too, who still surprise me to this day. A strange one for me is the public, working with them for my entire career has shown me that if any part of my work has an impact on these people, especially kids, then it inspires me to work harder, because it could be something they always remember and use the rest of their life. Bear has always been a massive inspiration for me as well, his attitude, mindset and work ethic has always stood out to me and I think that's why I'm on the path I'm on today. Oh and Ross Edgley too I mean... what an absolute machine!

What have been the biggest obstacles you have encountered?

An obstacle for me might be a walk in the park for you, to me it's all about perspective. I mean Everest Base camp is a pretty big obstacle, and believe me it was, but being happy with yourself is also one too. Some of my biggest obstacles have been in my head, physically pushing myself to my limits and getting through something with grit and determination is a pleasure for me, making sure what goes on in my head is the real challenge, this affects a lot of people, people close to you and people close to me. How do I deal with it? I like to live simply. A simple life full of adventure, friends, family and structure makes life's other obstacles, a hell of a lot easier to overcome.

Biggest triumphs?

Being able to lead such an amazing team through some of the hardest times at Bear Grylls Adventure is definitely one of them. I was given the opportunity to climb Everest Base Camp with Bear Grylls Adventure and Merlin's Magic Wand - that was a jaw dropping experience! I encourage anyone to do it! And the feeling when you reach Basecamp... is unreal. The altitude sickness...not so much, but the feeling of pride is amazing! The funny thing for me, is that I'm only just getting started...so let's see what else I can do!

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

Enjoy the little things. I'm a young guy, I'm only 22 and I've got a lot more life to live, but the little things do really count. The laughter round a campfire, the taste of a homemade meal, the cup of tea with your family, the taste of that first beer after trekking to Everest Basecamp! These are the things which you will remember for years to come, so when you find yourself in one of these moments... savour it.

Why is getting outdoors so important in modern life?

As a society we have become far too comfortable. Warm houses, brick walls, and everything at our fingertips, we've created our own comfort zone, or comfort pit as Bear says. The only place people grow, is outside their comfort zone, and for most people stepping into the outdoors is stepping out of their comfort zone. If you want to see what someone's really like, take them into the mountains or the forest, this is when their true colours will start to show. This is why it's so important to get out, especially kids, to disconnect yourself from technology, to get out your comfort pit and challenge yourself.

Amongst all the endeavours you have been involved with, which is the most unforgettable and why?

I've been to some amazing places so far and hopefully I'll get to visit many more, but the most unforgettable place and endeavour was Everest Base Camp. The scenery, food and people are all unforgettable. It's such a contrast to home and I think that's why I loved it so much. It's one of the hardest physical challenges I have ever done, but worth it? Absolutely. It was all filmed for a documentary focusing on one of Merlin's Magic Wand's partner charities called Embrace CVOC. These guys do absolutely amazing work helping children who are victims of violent crime across the UK, so if you want to see their work, stories or what Everest is like... search Embrace Everest by Cambridge Filmworks, it should be out soon!

Why is this particular project so important to you?

The Unsung Hero's project is such an amazing project. It just goes to show that you don't have to be rich or famous to have an impact, showing people that they are all a hero to someone, somewhere in this world really puts it all into perspective and I'm honoured that I've been chosen to share my story on here, so thank you so much. Bear Grylls Survival Academy is phenomenal, if you've ever watched Bear on TV and thought ‘I'd love to try that', then they are the place to go. On a course or becoming an instructor, it is exactly what it says on the tin, A Bear Grylls experience. The team is so passionate and driven to deliver this experience it's inspiring. They're so welcoming and friendly too, and it's a pleasure to be part of the team. However, The Bear Grylls Adventure is the probably the most important to me, being there since day one has given me a real attachment to the place, we are providing people access to take part in some of the greatest challenges on earth, and we are doing it all under one roof. Being one of the most accessible sights for all disabilities, it has allowed me and my team to give people such unforgettable experiences, and that alone should show you why it's so important.

Who has been an unsung hero in your life?

All my mentors. From my old Scout leader, John, to my Nan and Granddad, these people, friends, family, work colleagues are all heros for dealing with me first of all, but for all the work they do that I truly appreciate and have learned from them. Whether it's simple life skills like how to wire a plug or use a jigsaw or how to lead from the front and manage people, these people have forged me into what I am today. So for that, they are my heroes.

 

Do you have a motto you live by?

There's a few. First off live simply. By this is I mean don't waste time on drama or toxic relationships, be happy, be kind, enjoy yourself. Secondly, lead from the front, don't tell someone how to do it, show them the way. Finally it's a saying my Great Granddad always used to say: ‘fighting fit and ready to go' even at his frailest he always used to say this with a smile on his face, and it can mean so much, in so many ways.

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