John is an ex-Royal Marine Captain and former Commanding officer of the Mountain and Arctic Warfare Cadre.
He is a highly experienced mountaineer who has led expeditions in all of the seven continents and can claim first ascents in five of them. Everest, Vinson, Denali, K2, Eiger North Face and a host of other well-known mountains all feature on his CV.
In 1978 John was appointed Director of The National Mountaineering Centre, Plas y Brenin, in North Wales – a post he held for seven years.
He has written extensively about mountaineering and is the author of six books on the subject. He has been advisor to, and originator of, a number of TV documentaries. John is a highly engaging and inspiring speaker who captivates his audience with his own unique style, combining pathos and humour. When he is not in the mountains, or on a mountain, he can often be found talking about them as a Guest Speaker at events and presentations.
John joined 65 Degrees North as its high mountain advisor and trainer in 2016.
Dave proudly served in the Royal Marines Commandos for over 25 years, seeing operations across the globe including a number in Afghanistan, former Yugoslavia and Northern Ireland. As a Commando, Dave was embedded in many operations during the Cold War. He has also trained Commandos in tactics and specialist warfare, as well as combat survival and evasion. Towards the end of his military career Dave was Sergeant Major to a squadron of Commandos in Afghanistan, working with Special Forces, for 9 months in 2001/2. He left in 2005 as a senior Warrant Officer.
Dave has worked extensively in the security industry, including providing security for many A list celebrities. His current profession as a television and film producer, and safety consultant has taken him to many extreme, dynamic and hostile locations. He has worked on approximately 90% of shows presented by Bear Grylls and further productions with other celebrities, as well as commercial campaigns. He has an interest in global politics and world affairs and has worked alongside many high profile figures including Barack Obama, his administration and secret service agents.
In 2003 Dave summited Everest, returning again in 2006 and was a member of the first successful British ascent of Kangchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world. He made an early British ascent of El Capitan, joined a team of 5 navigating a RIB through the North West Passage, and has experience of many other extreme expeditions.
Dave is a published author and a volunteer for the Jurassic lifeboat team. He has been married for 30 years and has three daughters.
Joe has enjoyed 18 years of service in the Royal Marines – which has been an incredible adventure, full of opportunities and excitement. Since 2017 though he has been recovering from Complex PTSD – which hasn’t involved work in the conventional sense, but has been the most challenging role he has have ever had.
Overcoming his adversity has allowed Joe to grow and learn so much about himself; as well as mental health, resilience, recovery, and supporting others who are struggling with a psychological injury. These are all subjects that Joe is very passionate about.
Joe’s recovery has also been greatly helped by mountaineering – where his symptoms are eased considerably. This is a journey that began on a hillside in South Wales and which led to him ultimately to summiting Mount Everest in May 2019 with 65 Degrees North.
Danny joined the Royal Marines in 2003. On completion of training he was drafted to 42 Commando RM just outside of Plymouth and quickly specialised as a Reconnaissance Operator.
Danny deployed to Afghanistan in 2006 for Operation Herrick 5 and it was for actions during this deployment that saw him awarded the Military Cross. Once home and after a second deployment to Norway he was drafted to Stonehouse Barracks, also in Plymouth, to join Brigade Patrol Troop. Danny quickly re-deployed to Afghanistan for Operation Herrick 9 this time with troop being part of the larger Brigade Reconnaissance Force. It was during this tour Danny witnessed an event which, along with events from his first tour, would see him being diagnosed with Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Danny was medically discharged in 2011.
He now spends his time working on his own business delivering outdoor activities to young people as well as taking part in outdoor freelance work. Danny successfully summited Kilimanjaro in February 2016 and Mt. Vinson in January 2017 with 65 Degrees North and he continues to support the team using his skills and experience gained through these expeditions.
Leesa discovered a passion for dance at the age of 12 and embarked on a dance career which took her to London, Denmark, Germany and Greece. A desire to provide stability for her son brought her home to be close to family, and she has since retrained as a fitness instructor and driving instructor. In 2013 a chance meeting with Rich came at the most perfect time as depleted energy levels, following treatment for breast cancer in 2011, were at an all time high and Leesa was provided with the opportunity to take up the very privileged position of documenting and sharing every step of the epic World First Record attempt across the Greenland Ice Cap.
Leesa experienced her first expedition when she joined the team for the ‘Conquering Kili’ challenge and documented the journey live from Mount Kilimanjaro. This was a particularly emotional challenge as her Dad had ended his own life after a long battle with depression.
Leesa has accompanied the 65DN team on training packages to the Mont Blanc Massif to photograph and record the team during their training packages for Antarctica, Aconcagua, Denali and Everest. In 2019 she spent 6 weeks at Everest Base Camp documenting the team’s progress to the summit of the World’s highest mountain!
These incredible experiences have given her an appetite for adventure and an even greater desire to support 65DN and help them achieve their objective to inspire and motivate others.
David is a Professor in Sport Psychology at the University of South Wales and a HCPC registered Sport and Exercise Psychologist. He consults extensively as an applied sport psychologist in a wide range of elite sports both in the UK and abroad.
For 65 Degrees North, David advises team members how to maximise their performance while undergoing extreme challenge, and how their experiences can translate to everyday live.
David has published extensively on a range of topics in sport science and psychology, and specialises in elite performance research on team dynamics, psychological/physical factors related to recovery, and psychological factors underpinning extreme sport.
Melitta is a senior lecturer at Swansea University where she researches the influence of physical activity and exercise training on the cardiometabolic health of paediatric and clinical populations.
With a key focus on the cardiorespiratory response to exercise and its interaction with growth, maturation and disease, Melitta works with national sports teams and governing bodies to develop appropriate training recommendations for performance and long-term health.
Her role for 65 Degrees North is to conduct physiological testing to inform training preparations for upcoming challenges.
Kelly is a senior lecturer at Swansea University. Much of her work focuses on the promotion of physical activity and exercise in clinical and hard to reach populations. Whilst much of this stems from their principle motivation, she is mainly interested in the associated energy expenditure and indeed health benefits or implications.
Recent work has strengthened on-going collaborations with Sport Wales, with annual testing for several sports, such as Hockey Wales and Rowing Wales. Kelly’s passion lies in the integration of technology to track exercise behaviours, or performance, and allow real-time feedback for the athlete, coach, or researcher. Her role for 65 Degrees North is to assist in the physiological testing, particularly those surrounding fitness.