Keynote Speaker and Host
Ray Mears is now recognised throughout the world as being an authority on the subject of Bushcraft and Survival. An impressive speaker he has also become a household name through his television series. These include Tracks, World of Survival, The Essential Guide to Rocks, Extreme Survival, Trips Money Can't Buy with Ewan McGregor, The Real Heroes of Telemark, Bushcraft Survival, and Wild Food.
These programmes have reached out and touched the hearts of everyone, from small children to grandparents. They are enjoyed by many because of Ray's down to earth approach. His obvious love, empathy and respect he shows for indigenous peoples and their cultures shines through too. Ray has spent his life learning these skills. He is truly a master of the subject he calls Wilderness Bushcraft.
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Read more about Ray Mears
Ray grew up in Southern England on the North Downs. There he discovered a countryside abundant with wildlife. Developing a unique attunement to his local environment, he learned to track foxes into the forest. Little did he realise that he was embarking on a journey that would become his life's mission. Wanting to be able to sleep out on the trail yet unable to afford camping equipment, he resorted to a more Robinson Crusoe approach to solving the problem.
It was his school judo teacher Kingsley who fired his imagination and encouraged him to look at the world in a different way. Ray found Kingsley to be a wonderful man. He had fought behind enemy lines in Burma during the Second World War. He taught Ray to challenge conventional wisdom and practices. "You don't need equipment, you need knowledge to survive in the wild", he would tell him. "Maximum efficiency from minimum effort", was another of his themes.
These simple principles have been enshrined in Ray's Bushcraft philosophy, in both his writing and his teaching. Ray digested every scrap of information relating to survival that he could find in his local library. He begain to re-learn skills that had not used on the North Downs for ten thousand years.
Since those early days Ray has expanded his horizons literally travelling the World over many times. Conversing in the universal language of Bushcraft, he has won the friendship of many of the Earth's first Nations. He has been privileged to accompany them while hunting, tracking, and searching for wild plants for food and medicine.
School of Wilderness Bushcraft
Ray founded Woodlore, School of Wilderness Bushcraft, in 1983. When he first started, there were only a few others in the United Kingdom teaching survival courses, but survival is only one chapter of the Bushcraft story - it is the short-hand version, an ABC nutshell guide. Bushcraft is an encyclopedia - a vast area of knowledge which is constantly being updated. He has now been teaching for the past 25 years as he puts it "to enable others to drink at the well of Bushcraft".
Realising that the subject can be studied at many levels, Ray has adapted his tuition to the needs of his students. A rare ability that has enabled him to teach not only civilian students but also military. At the heart though is his passion is to teach Wilderness Bushcraft as an encompassing study of nature. Something which transcends mere cultural and linguistic differences.