Growing up on a remote farm in the Yorkshire Dales, I developed a love for the outdoors and adventures. School was not for me; I was bullied due to being dyslexic and for suffering from extreme shyness. I struggled finding work after finishing my education but an Accidental Yes changed my life and led me unexpectedly down an adventure-filled road.
My Yes Moment
When it came to leaving College, I was nervous about starting life in the working world. I had just finished a course in Animal Management, so I was looking for work involving animals and the outdoors.
Pets at home, vets surgeries, zoos and bird of prey centres were my target. I had been working part time in a bird of prey centre already so I was hoping to go full time there.
Suffering from shyness and anxiety meant I struggled with interviews. Often I would stop just before walking through the door and talk myself into turning around and going home.
A few jobs I had applied for held telephone interviews, which I preferred as I didn’t feel all the pressure in that set-up, in comparison with sitting in a room with other people going for the same role.
Then one afternoon I received an email, offering me a role at the bird of prey centre. It provided accommodation and food, which I thought was amazing. It gave me the chance to move out and grow as a person. Within a few minutes of scanning this email I replied – I said YES to accepting the role!
Turns out the role I had accepted was not in the UK – I had accidentally accepted a job in South Africa! I had never been abroad – but at 18 years old I knew I had to go for it, so I found myself flying off to a completely new continent! At first I panicked but I thought: go for it!
I worked with birds of prey from eagles to owls. I also helped with the Big Cats, which lead to me getting attacked by a cheetah. A cheetah’s claws are like running spikes and are not retracted like other cats; so as I stood up with the cat on my back, its claws ran down my back leaving me with a nice scar.
I also helped to raise orphaned animals, like cheetahs, lions, rhino and a hippo called Humphrey; now when a 30st baby wants to play you know about it. It was like taking on Anthony Joshua. Humphrey later killed a man, but if you try to ride a fully grown Bull Hippo, it’s never going to end well.
I loved my time in Africa and I learnt so much.
When I returned home I did many random jobs, from making chocolate to working as a porter in a auction house. I even became an actor in a film version of Wuthering Heights (I don’t recommend watching it) and also appeared in a Mars Bar advert with Peter Crouch.
I started to become depressed as I knew I wasn’t happy - so I went from job to job.
But I remembered my time in South Africa which instantly brought a grin to my face.
So I left my job, packed a bag and went to Asia. I rented a Scooter and rode it around Vietnam, through mountains, jungles, deserts and swamps, and back up a road with so many unexploded bombs that it would take 300 years to remove them all.