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MGC, 1989 Leaver

Malvern Alumnae 100 Jo Blackshaw

MGC gave me the best start in life – it gave me an academic grounding and a wonderful set of A Level results, leading to a place at Oxford University to study Biological Sciences. MGC gave me outdoor activity weekends away, where I learnt the value of the shared outdoor experience and deep friendships that continue today. 

Whilst at Oxford and afterwards as a Biology teacher in some great schools, I continued this mix of academic life and outdoor experiences. I took opportunities to trek at high altitude and go white water rafting in Nepal and canoeing and trekking in Canada and New Zealand. I was lucky enough to accompany sailing, skiing and Duke of Edinburgh Award expeditions.

But I wasn’t entirely happy.

So, in 2004 I took the brave step of leaving teaching and becoming an expedition leader. 

I am now a qualified International Mountain Leader. And I have the best job: I lead expeditions and treks all round the world. I’ve been to Mongolia and Morocco, to Kinabalu and Kathmandu, to Vietnam and Venezuela, to the Dead Sea in Jordan and to the summit of Stok Kangri (6153m) in the Himalayas. I have done the Tour du Mont Blanc over 20 times now – not summiting the beautiful mountain but circumnavigating it via France, Italy and Switzerland.  It is one of the most beautiful hikes in the world. Sharing these journeys allows me to motivate and inspire others, opening their eyes and minds to the possibility of change.

I also convey my passion for the outdoors with people through my website jojourneys.com, where I showcase photography, quotes and a blog.

What does success look like?

Being able to say you have the best job in the world.

What is your best piece of advice?

Making decisions about what to do next is scary.  However, if you can see that everything that you do provides a learning experience, then there is no such thing as a wrong decision.