Team Selection & Training

A fundamental part of the success of an any expedition is the selection of the team members. Most are under consideration for their specific skills, but as important is their personality and how well they mix and contribute to the overall effort. SJH Projects has a well proven process that brings out the required personality traits in a safe, controlled way that is effective but also enjoyed by the candidates. This process is then tuned to the particular needs of the proposed expedition or venture.

Flight of the Swans 2016

The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust in Slimbridge, Gloucestershire is home during our winter to rare Bewick Swans. These migrate each Autumn from Northern Russia. To highlight their dwindling numbers and to learn more detail on their migration WWT planned a paramotor based expedition to follow the migration as it happened. The airborne element would be provided primarily by Sacha Dench of the WWT. To make the expedition successful however would require a vehicle borne ground crew and media team to film and record the venture. 

The ‘Flight if the Swans’ team had approached the Transglobe Expedition Trust’ for grant funding and technical support on things such heated clothing for the pilots.  SJH Projects were put in touch with respect to the heated clothing but it soon transpired that their more immediate need was to select the ground team so that they could then be put to work on the build-up the expedition itself.


A weekend was planned for March but as this is a critical breeding time for some very rare species at Slimbridge we would have to do it elsewhere. Thankfully one of WWT’s supporters, the TV presenter Kate Humble offered up her farm in Monmouthshire.


Over the course of Friday evening our 16 candidates arrived and were put to work immediately with some essay work and planning problems. They then camped out in the dining room ready for an early start.  Adapting the resources of previous selections to the immediate environment the training staff kept them busy through Saturday, that night and into Sunday morning. All the cooking was performed by the candidates – an essential expedition skill – and from our point of view another chance to see the interpersonal dynamics at work.


Follow Flight of the Swans Here


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Sir Ranulph Fiennes - Coldest Journey 2011/12

Aside from the technical support discussed on other pages there was a need to select expedition mechanics. The Caterpillar D6N vehicles provided to the expedition by Finnings in Cannock and complex vehicles with a lot of computer diagnostics and skills required in normal conditions. To keep them functioning in the Antarctic winter would require some major modifications and two mechanic/ drivers who could operate in such a remote location and take the responsibility and pressure. The serious round of selection was held during the field trials in Sweden – an expedition in its own right. 

Candidates from the UK and Canada had been narrowed internally at Finnings and by interviews with Ran Fiennes. Sweden and the epic road trip there and back was chance to see how they operated in the field, what they were like to live with in confined circumstances and with round the clock working.  Unexpected events such as the Cat falling through hidden into small lake provided a real world problem just when everyone thought they were finished.


From the Sweden trials two candidates were selected but not long after one had to withdraw. A quicker selection was held during the second Cold Chamber trials and thankfully a very worthy replacement was found. The two mechanics Spencer Smirl from Canada and Richmond Dykes from Northern Ireland proved their worth on the Coldest Journey and have both benefitted from the experience in their subsequent careers.




See more on the Swedish trials Click Here

Bhubesi Pride 2010

Richard Bennet interrupted a successful teaching career to follow an idea he had had brewing for quite some time.  A keen rugby player and coach, he envisaged an expedition down the East coast of Africa to South Africa with a team of selected volunteer coaches teaching rugby to school and colleges to spread the game and its values. 

He had interest from candidates around the world but needed to select from these to form a cohesive group that would be confined together for an extended period. SJH Project pulled in friends and colleagues to plan and run this selection run over a weekend at Hestercombe Gardens in Devon. Using resources and activities employed with other groups the candidates were kept very busy right from their arrival on the Friday evening through to their departure on the Sunday.


As is often the case with these events, it is only when the candidates get tired from the work rate and sleep deprivation that their true personalities come out. Some rise to the occasion and their goodwill and humour pulls everyone together, others meanwhile start muttering and getting short tempered. Predicting who will fall into which camp is always an interesting exercise.


This first expedition was a success and Bhubesi Pride has gone from strength to strength with further events held each year with an even greater international blend of coaches and more corporate sponsors and support from the wider rugby community.


See more at Bhubesi Pride’s own website at


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Enham Trust on Kilimanjaro 2007

Enham Alamein is a village just near Andover in which functions as a community for people with a wide range of physical, mental and emotional issues. It has been in existence since after the First World War and is a model of how everyone can be brought together and how they still have something to contribute to society

As a flagship venture to prove what was possible, the Enham Trust had decided upon an attempt by a team selected residents to climb Kilimanjaro. A selection and training weekend was planned which would test the candidates but also give them a flavour of the amount of effort and skills that would be required.


With many of the candidates never having read a map before they found themselves successfully undertaking a night navigation through the surrounding countryside and woods.


This weekend was followed by a rehearsal event on My Snowdon for which we had the very best weather possible. The day was very long but very rewarding and the celebrations that evening back at the campsite were considerable.


With a specialist expedition company the team went to be successful and a film of their exploits has one awards.


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Bus to Beijing 2007

At the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics Games in 2008 the upcoming London games put on a short show as part of the official handover. A London bus was used to release dancers and then opened up to reveal Leona Lewis and Jimmy Page. What was supposed to have happened before this was a standard London bus of the same apparent model was to have driven overland to Beijing from London. This would be driven London bus drivers who required selecting and training. From over a 1000 applicants 36 were invited to a selection weekend set up by Max Adventure, SJH Projects and TOR, a company that provided hostile environment training to the media. 

The candidates were put through a mixture of lessons and test scenarios in groups to see how well they could absorb information, how they reacted in pressure situations and how the responded to sleep deprivation and no knowledge of what would be happening next.


Candidates were whittled down and then in the following weeks were put through a more dedicated training phase. It was at this point that Boris Johnson became Mayor of London and cancelled the project


Undeterred the selected team banded together and using a London bus quickly planned and executed the Three Peaks Challenge and raised over £25,000 for Help for Heroes.  


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Toyota Gibraltar Stockholdings 2004

With Max Adventure SJH Projects delivered a training programme to the sales team of Toyota Gibraltar Stockholdings. TGS are the main provider of Toyota ‘Project Vehicles’ to the UN and NGOs for operations throughout the world. They have a fleet of vehicles ready to be fitted out and shipped by sea or air for disaster relief, post-conflict work and for ongoing projects in remote locations. 

It was felt by TGS that their sales team would be better equipped if they had a more active experience using their own vehicles to live and work from in the way that many of their clients do. The course was a mixture of classroom work at the TGS offices in Gibraltar and field work at Los Barrios in neighbouring Spain.


Events included day and night convoy skills, off-roading, vehicle recovery and casualty treatment and recovery.


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