WE ARE HERE FOR THE COMMUNITY
CHOOSE YOUR CHALLENGE
MEET THE TEAM
Mel Ellis – Managing Director
Mel is a qualified PE teacher and retired RAF Squadron Leader (Physical Education Branch) who specialised as a Parachute Jump Instructor during his 16 year Service career. Key military roles have included leading the RAF Falcons Parachute Display Team, managing the leadership and physical fitness programmes of officer cadets at RAF College Cranwell, and commanding the RAF Parachute Training School After leaving the RAF Mel then spent 10 years directing operations at Closer to the Edge Ltd – he is now at Challenge Academy, having a more ‘hands on’ involvement to develop the wide range of services and products. Mel is an Accredited Practitioner for the Institute of Outdoor Learning.
Greg Brookes-Clayton – Educational Director
Greg is a qualified teacher with significant experience in the field of Special Educational Needs (SEN). Prior to joining Challenge Academy, Greg completed his teaching career as Head of Pupil Referral Unit in Derby City. Over the past few years Greg has developed an exceptional offer for the Education Sector, fine-tuned his own facilitation skills and worked tirelessly to have his training CPD approved and nationally accredited by Ofqual. He is now responsible for the Learning and Development within Challenge Academy CIC and is busy extending the offer to Education, Criminal Justice, Welfare to Work, Care, and Health sectors. Greg is a qualified trainer for Mental Health First Aid.
Sam Jackson – Operations Manager
Sam has a degree in Sports Science and is an experienced facilities manager, having managed large leisure facilities in the Middle East for 5 years. As a qualified Level 2 Cricket Coach and a Level 3 Personal Trainer Sam is well equipped for working at Challenge Academy, where he is tasked with managing the operational aspects of our facility and developing our health and fitness offer. He is very passionate about outdoor experiential learning and his role incorporates his love of working with people and managing a talented team. Sam is a highly qualified and experienced outdoor instructor, proud to lead and develop a highly motivated team.
Chris Smith – Senior Facilitator
Chris, a retired teacher of 30 years, is a qualified ropes instructor who acts as both an integral part of the adventure hub team and specialises in taking our mobile equipment into schools, youth organisations and corporate settings. He has 24 years experience as Head of PE at The Kingswinford School, meaning he is well-equipped to deliver outdoor activity with the aim of developing participant’s soft skills. With an emphasis on fun, he believes outdoor activity can bring about instant rewards and ‘light bulb moments’ for individuals, groups and instructors, where everyone involved can achieve and learn something about themselves.
Sharan Shukla – Office Manager
Annabele Lyth – Lead Instructor
Bels is a fully qualified high ropes instructor and outdoor specialist, having arrived after a year of travel and study in Europe. She studied German at Stuttgart University and is also a fluent Bulgarian speaker, she has also worked as an au pair. Bels is responsible for keeping up morale amongst the team with nonsensical chatter, mostly about films and nothing.
Josh Hawkes – Lead Instructor
Josh arrived in Summer 2022, having completed 2 arduous tours of duty as an outdoor practitioner at other outdoor adventure centres. He has also travelled extensively in the USA mainly as a football coach. He is a fully qualified high ropes instructor and is responsible for delivering our community courses. His hobbies and interests include kayaking, paddle-boarding and football and football.
Lesley McNaney – Lead Instructor/Marketing
Lesley is a fully qualified graphic designer but she also has extensive experience as an outdoor instructor. Lesley is responsible for the design needs and social media for Challenge Academy; she also supports the team with marketing and takes the lead on all of the family programmes and camps that CA delivers. Her main interests are bushcraft and survival, design work and spelling tests.
PLEASE GET IN TOUCH
Baggeridge Country Park, Gospel End Rd, Sedgley DY3 4HB.
You will find us just below the park tea shop. Park your vehicle, pay for parking and walk down the track.