Meet The Team


Portait image of Challenge The Wild Director, Dan Searson

Dan Searson
Director of Operations

Challenge The Wild is run by Dan Searson.  During his thirty year military career, as an Army Officer, he was deployed to the Balkans, East Africa and the Middle East; and as a Mountain Leader led expeditions to the Pyrenees, Alps, the Sierra Nevada, Dolomites, the Grand Canyon, Peru and Mount Kenya. He was awarded several British Army Commendations during his service.

Dan has extensive experience in event management and has personally run challenges for many high-profile organisations.  He holds a Post Graduate Certificate in Humanitarian Response; and has been awarded certificates in Health and Safety for Managers and Medical Planning.  Dan thrives on ensuring our clients achieve their goals through a rigorous approach to planning and delivery.

Portait of Joe Harrop, one of Challenge The Wilds' technical climbing instructors

Joe Harrop
Operations Manager

Joe Harrop is Challenge The Wild’s Operations Manager. He has worked in the outdoor industry for over thirty years, is an experienced rock climbing instructor, and has led groups in the technical canyons of the UK. Joe has travelled extensively, has a keen interest in the environment, and truly understands the benefits the outdoors can bring.

Joe is responsible for all operational management of Challenge The Wild events including event logistics, client management and quality control. He also attends many events, putting into practice his passion to lead others.


Portrait of Paddy Cave, Challenge The Wilds' lead technical instructor

Paddy Cave

Lead Instructor & Technical Advisor

Paddy Cave is Challenge The Wild’s Lead Instructor and Technical Advisor. He holds the Mountaineering Instructor’s Certificate, the highest UK certificate available. Paddy has completed 14 first ascents of peaks in the northern Himalayas and has taken clients out trekking and climbing all over the world. His experience and knowledge are second to none, and he is widely respected in the outdoor community.
Paddy leads on all Challenge The Wild events, and is supported by a team of highly experienced instructors that are some of the best in the business.

Portait of Ben Gallagher, a walk leader and event manager with Challenge The Wild

Ben Gallagher

Ben is one of our Walk Leaders and Event Managers. Having been injured whilst serving in the British Army, he is passionate about sharing his story to encourage others that although you may have a disability, it’s the ability to go beyond and defy the odds that makes a difference.

Portait of Sam Camp, an instructor with Challenge The Wild.

Sam Camp

Sam is a serving British Army Officer, holds a degree in Outdoor & Physical Education and is completing a Masters in Leadership. He has a deep interest in enhancing the self-efficacy of those he works with and hopes to give back to all the groups we support.

Portait of Mark Smaje, one of our Adventure Event instructors

Mark Smaje

Mark is one of our Walk Leaders who works predominately on our Adventure Retreats in the Lakes. He has trekked all over the UK and taken part in several high-profile expeditions. He has a background in project management but is never happier than when leading others outdoors.

Portait of Jamie Founds, Challenge The Wilds' expert on the water

Jamie Founds

Jamie is our expert on the water. As one of the top Paddlesports coaches in the UK, he has travelled extensively and led groups in the water around the world. Jamie served in the British Army for 23 years, finishing his career as an RSM. He is at his best when helping others achieve their goals.

Portait of Connor Holah, marketing and tech support for Challenge The Wild.

Connor Holah

Challenge The Wild’s marketing and website is handled by Connor. He first met Dan on the East Cheshire Hospice Grand Canyon Trek in 2018. He’s since been on many expeditions including to the Himalayas and Atlas Mountains. He also serves in the Army Reserves with the Mercian regiment.

Portrait image of Diane King, an instructor with Challenge The Wild

Diane King

Diane is a Mountain Leader who supports Challenge The Wild on our UK Adventure Events. She has travelled extensively, leading hikes to the Dolomites, Spain and further afield. She is an ITU Nurse in Manchester, and serves as a Sergeant in the Army Reserve.


Portait of Paul Johnson, Challenge The Wilds' Support Team Leader.

Paul Johnson

Head of Well-being

Paul Johnson is Challenge The Wild’s Head of Well-being. He served in the Merchant Navy for 39 years, spending 22 years as Chief Petty Officer. During his extensive travels all over the world, Paul has studied many techniques on helping people overcome their fears and anxieties to achieve their goals.
Paul has years of experience in mental well-being and volunteers weekly at a mental health charity. He has undertaken numerous courses, studied counselling and is mental health first aid qualified to level 3; and the architect of our well-being workshops.

Portait of John Kilner, physical health advisor for Challenge The Wild.

John Kilner

John consults for Challenge The Wild and works closely with the support team, advising on physical health. He is a GP in the Lake District and has interests in sports and expedition medicine. He is a fell runner, keen traveller and serves as a Medical Officer in the Army Reserve.

Portait of Ben McComb, a mountain leader with Challenge The Wild.

Ben McComb

Ben is one of Challenge The Wild’s Mountain Leaders. He served as an Army Officer in the Royal Artillery, a role which has seen him travel extensively. He is first aid qualified and has significant knowledge in event management. Ben thrives on helping others to achieve their goals.

Portait of Danielle McDermott

Danielle McDermott

Danielle is the newest recruit to CTW. After a life changing experience with Breast Cancer, Danielle has reinvigorated herself and is now a qualified Mental Health Coach and Personal Trainer. She is an avid hiker whose background saw her work for 19 years in the NHS.

Portait of Sophie Monkman, a mountain leader with Challenge The Wild

Sophie Monkman

Sophie is a Mountain Leader, Ski Instructor and Event Manager. She is a General Practitioner with a keen interest in remote medicine, an Army Officer in the Reserves; and a keen outdoor enthusiast, who is never happier when hiking, climbing or skiing in the company of others.

Portait of Emma Kenny, psychologist, TV presenter, writer and expert media commentator

Emma Kenny

Emma Kenny is a psychologist, TV presenter, writer and expert media commentator, and is now recognised as one of the UK’s leading TV psychological experts. She works closely with the support team by providing advice and guidance on Mental Well-being.