Here you can learn a little more about the team…

Our mixed group of amateur explorers and SUPers each have one thing in common… a sense of adventure.

Neil Laughton, our expedition lead has a monumental number of fantastic adventures under his belt (as you’ll see if you click on the link to his website)  and had pulled together a short summary for the Paddle on the Peruvian Amazon he was planning.

He shared it with a number of known associates and people he had met either during one of his inspirational talks or through previous trips, and the rest (as they say) is history.

The expedition was presented to us in a way that promoted images of calm rivers running through rain forests, the sun shining and the world feeling a much better place. The reality  turns out to be somewhat different! The real possibility of encountering Tarantulas, piranha, Caymen and other biting creatures were softly dropped into the package…….. BUT we were already on the hook and each and everyone of the team  still said “OK, lets do this!!!”

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Neil Laughton – our Expedition Leader

“Neil is trying very hard but achieving very little” stated an early school report. Despite this inauspicious outlook and many subsequent setbacks, he was commissioned into the Royal Marines, qualified as a helicopter pilot and served 12 years in UK Special Forces (21 SAS) reaching the rank of Captain. Later on, he founded a construction company which grew to £40 million turnover before being sold to a FTSE 100 company in 2011.

At Laughton & Co, he dedicates his time to developing inspirational leaders and high-performing teams. Working with individuals and businesses, he helps them build their powers of discovery, teamwork and adventure (www.laughton.co). Neil is a Sussex Business Awards Winner, has a Certificate in Company Direction from the Institute of Directors and he won the Ness Award for “Inspirational leadership” from the Royal Geographical Society. He is also Chairman of the Scientific Exploration Society and Founder of the Penny Farthing Club.

Neil has a passion for travel, sport and adventure. He has organised and led more than 50 adventurous expeditions on 7 continents by land, sea and air. He climbed Mt Everest with Bear Grylls, was the first person to circumnavigate the UK & Ireland on a jet-ski and he piloted the world’s first road legal flying car on a 10,000 km journey from London to Timbuktu. Neil has Guinness World Records for riding a Penny Farthing bicycle with ‘no hands’ and for hosting the world’s highest black tie dinner party. But he is best known for his many ‘world firsts’ which include playing golf at the North Pole, cricket at the South Pole and paddling a bathtub across the Solent.

And Neil has raised many hundreds of thousands of pounds for charities and good causes via his expeditions.

Jonathan S C Beswick

CEO. Architect. Adventure

Jon founded Adventure in Architecture in 2010 while on an 8month and 33,000km expedition through West Africa, where he designed an award winning shelter for patients to receive inoculations. The same year Jon Skied to the South Pole for the 100year anniversary of Captain Scott’s expedition which was celebrated with the first ever game of cricket at the Pole.

Since then Jon has gained world records including first ascents in Iraq, tandem speed records, penny farthing records and hosted dinner parties on Everest. As a yacht master, mountain leader and divemaster Jon builds relationships in the industry by leading client and property expeditions all over the world.

Adventure in Architecture have a passion for a challenge guiding, residential, developer and commercial clients to the summit of their next property adventure.

Adventure in Architecture was born from an adventure that led to a thriving business. It’s success is derived from the strength of the team and every member of the company is an adventurer. We attract the best property professionals and most driven individuals by adhering to our culture of taking on challenges, love of exploration and pursuit of perfection. Among our architectural staff we have mountain leaders, world class climbers and yacht masters. We will take on whatever challenge you have for us.

Jeff Halls

Jeff is a Brighton born Entrepreneur with a lust for life, fun and adventure.

His hobbies include mountain biking, skiing, paddle boarding and sailing. Having gained his International Competence Certificate (ICC) qualification, there’s nothing Jeff likes more on a hot summers day than cruising around on the water.

Jeff is also passionate about doing his bit for good causes and has taken part in a number of fundraising events including the London to Brighton Bike Ride and an overseas cycling challenge through Cambodia and Vietnam.

When Jeff learnt that prostrate cancer was the biggest killer he decided to point all his charity events to support the research into this terrible disease.

When asked what drove him to take part he said“The global pandemic hasn’t been good on anyone. Neil and I are good friends and when he invited me to paddle board the Amazon, I laughed! Why would anyone want to risk their life facing crocodile, yellow belly Piranha, poison tip frogs and tarantula? Then I said OK!! I guess it just appealed to my need to do some crazy stuff once in a while to make me feel alive, and in the current climate it was just the reminder I needed and the thing I was looking for”

Antony Brown

Ant is currently the Head of BI Systems and Support at Network Rail.

His favourite quote is one his dad always used to say to him… “You don’t stop playing because you get old, you get old because you stop playing” (credited to George Bernard Shaw).

Skateboarding in his teens, surfing since his early 20’s, hiking the Inca Trail and taking on the 3 peaks challenge in his 30’s, snowboarding on three different continents since the week he turned 40, Heliboarding in Canada at 50… who knows what adventures and challenges lie ahead as Ant clearly has no intention of stopping playing.

In October 2020 Ants mum lost her battle with dementia. During the final chapter of her life, there were a number of very special people who both treated, cared for, and supported her. For this reason Ant has decided to help put something back and is raising funds for the Alzheimer’s Society as they continue their fight to create a world without dementia.

When asked what drove him to take part Ant said“When my life long friend and best man (Jeff Halls) told me he’d joined forces with Neil Laughton to explore the Amazon on inflatable Paddle Boards I thought “Hallsy’s finally lost the plot”? Crocodile, yellow belly piranha, poison tip frogs, snakes and tarantula… are just some of the scary creatures they may encounter, and then, I looked at a picture of my mum, smiling at me with a glass of wine in her hand, and could hear her saying “Antony… LIFE is for living, what are you waiting for?”

Mick Bishop

Mick runs his own roofing Business in Brighton.

He’s well known for being a bit of a fitness fanatic. He ran the Brighton marathon twice, the Hastings half marathon once and whilst he could be found in the gym most days (pre lockdown), one of his favourite exercises is to run 10 or more kilometres on the pebbles along the seafront in Brighton. During the winter months Mick usually heads to the mountains with Ant and their crew snowboarding.

Mick has always supported people in their fund raising efforts, and has done a number of events himself for charity. When he first signed up for this expedition his Dad was also fighting dementia. Sadly he too lost that battle in the early part of 2021, so Mick has also decided to raise funds for the Alzheimer’s society.

Mick loves to travel though more often that not he tends to look for his home comforts when away (English food etc). He regrets at times not having done more in his younger days and openly admits his sense of adventure has grown as the years have passed. More and more he’s pushing his own personal boundaries and the more he does, the more he wants to do!!

When asked what drove him to take part Mick saidThe trigger was lockdown. I needed something to look forward to that was totally out of my comfort zone. I hate spiders, crocks and all that kind of stuff and then Ant & Jeff popped up with this idea… it seemed to fit perfectly… lol

 

Giles Fairmann

Giles runs his own Insurance consultancy business and has lived in Hove for over 20 years.

He likes to keep his body ‘ticking over’, and enjoys a blast on his bike, and a run out with the Vets touch rugby at Hove RFC where he has also coached for 15 years. He has run the Brighton marathon twice, although is now saving his knees for his winter passion off-piste skiing.

He has worked in ski resorts in France and America, and has also skied in New Zealand, Macedonia, and Montenegro.

Giles has completed various fundraising events over the years including a tandem sky dive, a cycle from London to Paris, and 2 marathons. His chosen charity is The Chestnut Tree House hospice, which offers end of life care to children in Sussex, and which he has supported through fund raising and volunteering.

Giles has a passion for travelling, and his last adventure with his family was to Myanmar (Burma) in 2016, where on a 10 hour trek his children were the first young westerners to be seen by a local farmer.

Giles was fortunate enough to backpack in his younger days to South East Asia and Australia, and work in America twice, and has never lost the wanderlust.

When asked what drove him to take part Giles said “I made the mistake of contacting Neil during lockdown to see if he had any adventure trips going, as it had been a while since I had last tested myself, and this one totally floated my board! It’s a once in a lifetime trip to somewhere remote, and once I had met some of the other adventurers, I was in”.

Meriel Davis

Meriel runs an established Brighton and Hove based Chiropractic clinic, and when she’s not working she’s most likely found in the sea – surfing or kitesurfing, running on the South Downs or playing some sort of sport.

Meriel has travelled extensively as a sports chiropractor working at various elite level events as well as travel for various physical/sporting pursuits. She loves the outdoors and is not shy of a challenge or two.

When asked what drove her to take part Meriel said “after 2 years of the COVID pandemic – the idea of being surrounded by wildlife and jungle sounds like just what is needed!”

Mark Newman

Mark Newman is founding director of Silver Star Cleaning and runs Penny Farthing experiences in Brighton & Hove. Over the past ten years Mark has set about seeking adventure and pushing himself to complete various personal and team challenges. Not only fulfilling life ambitions but crucially combining them with fund raising for local and national charities and is delighted to have played a part of raising over £75,000

In that time Mark completed the Brighton Marathon. Navigated and Kayaked across Scotland with a team of 13. Trekked in the Artic to photograph the Aurora Borealis. Trekked in the Himalayas in 2015 which was cut short due to the earthquake. Paddle boarded as a team of 3 around the Isle of Wight and the first team ever to circumnavigate the remote Pacific island of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) by paddleboard. Cast in Execs Factors, a charity fund raising stage production for the Starr Trust. Completed a wing walked for Safe in Sussex and Kangaroos. Cycled 100 miles on a penny farthing for the Starr Trust and recently got himself a Guinness World Record for cycling the furthest distance in an hour one legged.

His hobbies include landscape photography, paddle boarding, scuba diving and representing the England penny farthing polo team and generally all sport.

When asked what drove him to take part, he said, “is this an adventure? will it be raising money? YES, Then why not!

Chris Oakley

Chris is a Brighton boy who started his property company, Oakley Property, in his late 20’s after he qualified as a Chartered Surveyor. He has grown the business into one of the leading property consultancies in Sussex, but whilst now living in Lewes where he started his career, he has kept the companies head office roots firmly in Brighton. In 2005 he became one of the youngest ever Presidents of the Brighton & Hove Estate Agents Association, one of the oldest and largest such associations in the UK.

Chris has always been known as a bit of a fitness fanatic and has been paddle boarding, running and snowboarding for many years.  He took up running relatively late at the age of 17, when he joined the local Phoenix Athletic Club, but soon became one of the clubs familiar faces on the circuit and forged many lasting friendships with his team mates and a lifelong connection with the sport. “Being part of Phoenix opened up many doors for me after I completed in the 2nd ever London Marathon at the age of 18, which was quite unique at the time and bizarrely led to me getting my first offer of a job in property”.  During his years at Phoenix Chris had the privilege of training with several Olympic and International athletes, who remain great friends. Chris also had another passion, which was for Karate and he was involved in the sport for over 20 years and ended up teaching the Martial Art in his 40’s.

When asked what drove him to take part he said “in recent years nothing has quite engaged me like the opportunity to see the Amazon and its amazing diversity, at such an environmentally critical time.  It’s all the more engaging to think about the adventure this will bring of seeing it by Paddle Board and the challenge of tackling the distance, whilst not trying to give too much thought about what’s underneath us in the water!”

Tony Dunkerley

Tony is from Poole in Dorset. His hobbies include rugby, cricket, snowboarding, kitesurfing, and bachata (yes bachata). He is a former UK detective and is now based in Nairobi, Kenya where he consults for the United Nations and advises law enforcement agencies across East Africa on investigating human trafficking and people smuggling.

In 2017 Tony founded Illustro Consultancy Ltd., providing international training, research support and educational services to prevent, identify and deal with modern slavery and human trafficking.

Tony is passionate about combining travel with volunteering, previously coaching sport to school children in South Africa, and running a probation program with youth offenders in the Dutch Caribbean.

Some favourite moments so far include running a tough mudder, climbing Mt. Kenya, diving the blue hole in Belize, bungee jumping in South Africa, sky diving over Queenstown, and dancing Jerusalema in Mogadishu (long story).

When asked what drove him to take part, Tony said, “I used to play rugby with Jon (Beswick) in the UK, and when I saw his latest adventure was paddling the Amazon, I decided I can’t let him keep having all the fun. My paddle boarding is not the best so I’ll likely fall in and get eaten on day one, but it’s a novel way to go.”

Maddy Chapman

Maddy is from Teddington, London. Over the past 6 years she has backpacked across Asia, America and Europe and has completed both a 6-month sailing season in Italy and a ski season in France. She got the opportunity to rock climb in Fontainebleau in France which in her view is the best bouldering location in Europe and completed her PADI Diver’s license in Croatia back in 2018.

In 2019 Maddy completed her degree in Outdoor Adventure Science and achieved a 1st in her dissertation on Gender Bias: Client’s Perception of Outdoor Female Leaders. She joined Adventure In Architecture° two years ago and has had the opportunity to work closely with clients on their property journeys as well as achieve the role of Practice Manager.

Maddy is also passionate about photography, music and fashion (yes you can be fashionable and still be adventurous). She’s not only involved in many sports but also plays the piano and has achieved her grade 6 singing qualification.

Maddy told us  “I like to keep my mind busy so I’m always up for new challenges and seeing how far I can push myself. I recently qualified as a PPA (Personal Profile Analysis) practitioner which allows me to provide a psychometric assessment to assess a person’s behavioural profile.”

When asked what drove her to take part she said:“Just before Covid.19 I had booked to go backpacking for 3 years around the world but sadly my plans got put on hold. Fortunately, I met Jon Beswick and I had the opportunity to help organise such an amazing trip and explore the amazon with crocodiles, monkeys and all types of species”.

Kaylem Alavi

Kaylem is from a small market town called Thornbury, Bristol, where he escaped the slow-pace of small town living by partaking in adventure whenever and wherever he could find it.

Kaylem’s love for adventure advanced significantly when he joined the Army Cadets which meant explorations of the wilderness through excursions, challenges and practice battle missions. His time in the Army Cadets also helped develop his commitment and dedication to facing challenges and becoming a more adaptable and thrill-seeking person.

Rugby plays a significant part in Kaylem’s life, playing the sport from a young age. A highlight of his rugby years was a rugby tour to South Africa where he supported local rugby teams by donating equipment, coaching them and playing against them in matches. Whilst in South Africa, Kaylem took his sense of adventure through the Ghost Mountains on safaris, to zip lining through the Table Top Mountain and meeting local tribes to immerse himself in the culture.

Sports playing is a major part in Kaylem’s love of adventure, pre-pandemic he would regularly go snowboarding in Bulgaria and has also been skiing the Alps and Italian Olympic Mountains.

When asked what drove him to take part he said: “The Amazon is a unique and special part of this world which has unparalleled beauty, wildlife, and eco-systems. It has been a dream of mine to visit it, so when this opportunity came along at the firm, I could not pass it up. Going on this expedition with colleagues and like minded individuals will make this trip that bit better!”

Will Fitzgibbon

Will is a chartered Architectural technologist and runs Chalkline Architectural services. He lives and works mainly in Ealing in West London. He started his working life as a Carpenter and changed career aged 30.

He has travelled fairly extensively over the years, has a particular attraction to Africa and has been to various countries there. He also has a love of rainforest travel and has managed a number of DIY adventures to jungle regions.

Most notably his trips included spending time in a pygmy village in Gabon and a trip to remote southern Suriname where he had the opportunity to paddle down the Lucie river.  The team are hoping that history doesn’t repeat itself as Will tell’s us “that trip went slightly wrong and ended with a helicopter evacuation!”

Will tries to keep fit and has taken up boxing training but likes to supplement this with some running and swimming. There is also some ‘atrocious’ golf in there as well.

When asked what drove him to take part he said: “Like many people, Lockdown curbed 2 years worth of travel plans and I’m dying to get back to doing something that takes me out of my comfort zone. This adventure is simply right up my street”

Maddie Difazio-Wright

In her own words Maddie tells us…

“I think I’m quite an ordinary person. I am guilty of being described as frequently over-enthusiastic and perhaps this trip is an example of that.

Scrolling through LinkedIn, I see a post asking if there is anyone keen to join a group of explorers on a paddle boarding trip down the Amazon river. Now here comes, the enthusiasm.. an email goes straight over to Jon Beswick saying that whilst this sounds like a great experience, I don’t have very much money at present as I’ve committed to prioritising getting some form of water and heating into my newly purchased ‘doer upper.’ This was swiftly followed by the transfer of the deposit. I can’t be entirely sure how that happened but I’m now embroiled on what I’m calling, an adventure.

Based on the Oxford dictionary definition of adventure we’re in for ‘an unusual or exciting experience, journey or series of events.’ Which sounds delightful.

If we take the definition from the reputable Urbandictionary.com, it’s ‘a life-threatening outdoor experience that makes life worth living. The experience usually involves loss of digits, limbs, friends or all of the above.’ Considerably less delightful.

The point of this little bio is that quite frankly, ordinary people can do extraordinary things.

On that inspiring note, in a few month’s time, we will see which definition of suits this adventure best.”

Based on the above there was no need to ask what drove Maddie to take part: It was clearly an impulse and we love it!!

Paul Clarke

Paul and Neil first met when they did a mountain / jungle expedition 20+ years ago in Western Papua. They lost contact and in his own words he tells us “We were lucky enough to reconnect with each other last year. Neil is an inspiration and a strong leader.”

Earlier this year Paul joined Neil on an expedition to hike across lake Baikal –  the world’s deepest, oldest and largest, fresh water lake which freezes during the winter months. It was also during this expedition that Paul met Jon our other team leader and they too hit it off as kindred spirits in adventure.

Most recently Paul and Neil joined forces on an aid mission to the Ukraine where they witnessed first-hand two different sides of life i.e. the human misery caused by the onslaught of the Russians on the Ukranian people as well as the fantastic humanitarian effort willingly provided by many volunteers (including them both) to help those in need. It was a humbling experience for them both.

When asked what drove him to take part he said“We actually live many lives in a single lifetime and that is my raison d’être for life.

The colours, combinations, experiences of life are numerous, changing and ever evolving. The length and depth of these experiences vary on how we define our own lives. The 2 years of Covid has been the catalyst for me to connect back to my raison d’être – living many different lives in one life.

This year I have lived for a short period on Ice, next to a war zone, and camped in the African Bush.

The opportunity to live life on a river through the jungle appeals to my raison d’être. Living many lives in one life. Adding to what has become an extraordinary year so far.”

Sponsors

Thank you to all our sponsors

Unfortunately this expedition is full but if this has excited you and you’d like to find out about any future expeditions or adventures please get in touch and if we can help, we will.

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Phone07702746129Emailamazonpaddlers@gmail.com

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