Your topics focus on historical adventurers - are you essentially an adventurer or a historian?
I consider myself an adventurer, who is very interested in human beings.
How did you get into speaking for a living?
Whilst at University, I did a huge number of motorcycle trips into central Africa. When I returned from those trips, there was always a group of fellow students who wanted to hear what had happened on the bike. Many of those listeners thought I was a reasonable storyteller, one of whom became Curator of the Rorke's Drift museum and recommended me as a storyteller to the late David Rattray. I met David Rattray in January 2001 and began working with him on the Zulu War battlefields in March 2001. I studied Agriculture and have a background in wildlife safari guiding, photography and travel. If anyone mentioned 16 years ago, that I would one day be speaking for a living, I would have considered the idea crazy!
What do you hope people can learn from you?
I hope audiences can learn a great deal about the behaviour of human beings "when the chips are down", the positive aspects of human nature and the lessons from history which are still relevant today.
What was your most memorable moment on stage
In September 2010, I spoke to a crowded Royal Geographical Society in London, with guests seated on the stairs and standing at te back. Surely the pinnacle of any speaker's dreams, to address the RGS and what a moment it was. Another lighter moment happened recently whilst speaking to an audience at Maritzburg College; during the very crescendo I stamped my foot right through the stage! It brought the house down - boys and their parents loved it, and thought it was part of the show. It most certainly was not.
After 700 talks, do you still get butterflies before a talk? If so, how do you deal with them?
I very definitely still get butterflies before talks, especially large audiences. I have certain rituals I like to complete before talks, which include getting to the venue well in time, walking slowly and breathing deeply, and not interacting with any of the audience before the talk. I always take a Berocca or similar to give me a bit of a "lift" an hour before the talk commences, and need to be sure that the seating, sound, lighting, etc is all correct well before kick off. Most importantly, I demand time alone before talks to get my head space correct.
You have covered the Zulu Wars and Antarctic Explorers; what is next?
I am already speaking about the Arctic, North-west Passage, etc along with the Sudan campaign. Always after subjects I feel passionately about, are marketable and generally non-controversial
What is your ideal audience? Large, small, corporate, schools,…..?
I thoroughly enjoy large audiences at venues, but prefer small audiences for my battlefield tours. School groups are fantastic, and love good storytelling. I do a lot of speaking at schools, both locally and in the UK. Corporate groups can be challenging, in that the audience are often not present out of choice, but rather as part of their jobs. In any scenario, my favourite audience comprises guests who wish to hear my stories.
What do you do in your spare time?
Thankfully, I have many interests and pastimes. I mountain bike regularly, and speak at many of the stage races in exchange for an entry. Motorcycling remains a great love, and I regularly take my Honda Africa Twin out for a spin - wonderful stress reliever and relaxant. I have a collection of Bonsai trees which provide much pleasure and satisfaction. Every summer I spend time working on expedition ships in the Arctic or Antarctic, and have always loved fly-fishing.