The people behind VegiVentures
Many wonderful people join VegiVentures on a part-time basis to lead and to assist. Here are brief details about some of us:
Brought up in Hertfordshire, Nigel left school early and as a teenager worked in Switzerland and then Germany. This formative experience gave him a love of travel and foreign tongues. He then trained in international hotel management and tourism and worked in these industries for a while. During a gap year in 1975 he discovered macrobiotics and Buddhism and was led twice to Machupicchu, but it was yoga that took over and for the next 7 years he studied and taught Sivananda Yoga. In the 80’s Nigel went back to catering, running his own veggie restaurant in Essex and teaching vegetarian cooking, while dreaming of his next step, VegiVentures. Nigel lives in the Norfolk village of Castle Acre (near Swaffham). He is passionate about organic food, sailing and dancing tango.
Karen and Nigel are partners. She has enjoyed a varied career, ranging from catering manager to deputy chief clerk of a county court, and now Vegiventures! Her first experience of VegiVentures was from the inside of a thankfully water-proof tent in the Lake District. Amazingly this early taste had her volunteering her catering skills, and she now helps with many of the details vital for running a small business: strategy and goal setting, proof reading, storing VegiVentures kit, foot massages and general moral support. Karen is passionate about the great outdoors, poetry and quality vegetarian food, she also enjoys gardening and encouraging Nigel to take an occasional break!
Karen is VegiVentures’ administrator and was born and bred in Norfolk. She lives in Castle Acre with her partner Mike and their 3 children: Natalie, Gabrielle and Alexander, who all attend the village school. After A levels and college, Karen became a professional secretary for 10 years, and then gave up work to have her first baby. In 1998, when Natalie was I year old, Karen spotted Nigel’s ad in the village post office and grabbed the opportunity to swap her paid ironing job for VegiVentures! 9 years and 2 more babies later, she still enjoys being able to walk/cycle to work in all weathers. Lunches provided by Nigel are another bonus! Having not travelled far, Karen enjoys communicating/chatting world-wide with Oda in Peru, Atilla in Turkey... seeing holiday photos and hearing guests’ tales. Karen is also a valued member of several village committees, most of whom hold their meetings in the pub!
The Lake District is VegiVentures longest running holiday and Heather has been leading the walks since we started. In this area of inspiring geography and impressive weather patterns, she is renowned for her safe mountaincraft, deep local knowledge and careful consideration of everyone’s needs. As a naturalist, Heather is always eager to share her love of wild landscapes and rural customs. A very experienced walker she has trekked in many parts of the world, most recently the Routeburn Track in New Zealand’s Fiordland, and she regularly leads groups for the Ramblers and H F Holidays in the UK and abroad. A former microbiologist, Heather can turn her hand to many things and often pops up on Creativity Weekends as breakfast chef.
Oda plans and leads our holidays in Latin America. She was born and raised in Germany and lived in the UK for 12 years, studying Spanish, Portuguese, Turkish and Anthropology at Durham University. She undertook post-graduate studies at the Institute of Amerindian Studies in St Andrews and is an expert on the indigenous cultures of Latin America. She also speaks Quechua, the most widely spoken indigenous Andean language, and has a deep passion for the peoples, tribes and cultures of the Americas. She is particularly interested in indigenous concepts of natural medicine, shamanism, music, dance and ritual. Oda lives in Peru and is married to to Armando a Peruvian potter and artist. Armando and Oda have recently trained as yoga teachers and are currently setting up a retreat centre in Peru. Oda also enjoys wild-mushrooming and speaking Geordie.
Chris leads our walking holidays in Snowdonia and the Peak District, and co-ordinates activities on our Creativity Breaks. Having had a “portfolio career” for most of his life so far, Chris can turn his hand to most things, but currently works as a fundraiser for a local charity. Living in Derbyshire (with his partner Denise and sons Lawrence and Joe) gives him the opportunity to break loose into the hills whenever he can; he has explored its hills and dales for nearly thirty years. An experienced group leader, he has walked in many parts of Britain and Europe, and loves sharing his knowledge of the countryside with others. He is known for his warm, caring nature and sense of fun. Chris also enjoys yoga, singing, and is brilliant at washing up.
Atilla founded and runs Yuva Eco Holiday Centre our main venue in Turkey. The oldest son in a family of 13 children, he was brought up in a small village in Eastern Turkey. This gave him a great love of nature, community life and rural traditions. After university in Istanbul, he worked for many years as an economist, before co-founding a business trading in organic food products, including ‘pekmez’ (mulberry syrup from his home village) and wood-fired stone-ground tahini. Atilla has lived in this part of Turkey for 14 years, and runs Yuva with members of his large extended family. He loves to lead walks on the stunning local trails, and with his improving English, share his knowledge of the countryside and local contacts.