Our Trustees underpin our sustainability and growth through good governance leadership. Our Trustees are selected for their Board experience and often following years of support and engagement with The Polar Academy. We are privileged to be supported and protected by our Trustees.
Joanna is a business engagement specialist with a track record for identifying opportunity and securing traction in niche markets fast, through ensuring the right teams of people work effectively together. She has worked with businesses large and small, charities and not for profit organisations and is Director of Programmes at Business Resilience International Management (BRIM) – a small dynamic business team which has been recognised internationally as ‘the nexus of cyber resilience between law enforcement and business.’
She has proudly supported The Polar Academy since 2017 when her son became an expedition member and it fundamentally changed his life. Her son remains an ambassador for both the Polar Academy and since, Tiso; inspiring young people to become more personally resilient and to develop a sense of adventure in the outdoors for improved mental health and wellbeing.
Joanna became Chair of The Polar Academy in September 2020, applying her personal passion and skills in organisational resilience in support. In her own words Joanna adds:
“Taking up the role of Chair is an enormous honour. This isn’t a role I see that brings a sense of reward, it is a role I feel enables me to pay back for a life changing gift it gave my son.”
Chris Tiso is the CEO of Tiso Group, the leading national retailer of Outdoor Clothing and Equipment which was founded over 50 years ago. Chris took over the running of the eponymous business in 1992 and has led its growth to its current position. The company has 14 stores across four facias covering Scotland and the north of England with a group turnover of c £30m and approximately 400 employees.
He was appointed a Trustee of the Polar Academy after having supported its founder on numerous expeditions over a twenty-year period. Tiso has sponsored the Polar Academy from its inception.
Chris is an ambassador for Dyslexia Scotland, Countryside Learning Scotland and is a past President of Scouts Scotland. He is also the recipient of several Scottish Business Awards and is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society.
An experienced yachtsman, skier and mountaineer, he has participated in and led climbing and sailing expeditions all over the world including to the Antarctic, Arctic and Himalayas.
Chris lives on a farm in Kinross-shire with his wife, their children and assortment of animals.
John Gilmour was born in the North of England. Though a Yorkshire man to the bone, he has lived all over the world including Bermuda, Hawaii, northern Spain, Liverpool, Dorset and, most recently, in Perthshire.
Prior to teaching, John served in the Royal Navy in both the surface fleet and submarines. He subsequently moved into teaching, where he has enjoyed a career in both maintained and independent schools for the last 19 years.
He is a sailor at heart with a passion for his family, the ocean, watersports, mountains and making journeys under his own steam. Prior to his move to Scotland, he spent 15 years as a crew member, helmsman and coxswain of the Swanage lifeboat crew.
He is now the Headmaster of Craigclowan Prep School in Perth.
Andrew Ford is the managing director of the specialist tax advisory firm, Barr & Ford Limited. Vice chairman of the Glasgow branch of the Chartered Institute of Taxation, Andrew has specialised in tax for over 20 years, working in both big 4 and mid tier accountancy practices, and as Head of Tax for a legal firm.
His areas of expertise include all areas of the taxation of wealthy individuals, including resident but non-domiciled individuals, and also transactions and employee incentive planning.
A graduate of the College of Law, York and the University of London, Andrew is a former climber and has been a valued trustee of The Polar Academy since January 2014.
Mike is the founder and director of Cornhill Building Services. Established in 1994 and with a multi-disciplinary workforce of over 90 employees, the Edinburgh based business has steadily grown to establish itself as a leading Scottish building contractor. With a client base that includes University of Edinburgh, The Edinburgh Academy, Seaforth Properties, East Lothian Council, West Lothian Council and Dunedin Canmore Housing Association, Mike overseas a business with a turnover in excess of £10m.
CBC was one of the first organisations to support Craig Mathieson’s vision for The Polar Academy. In 2015, Cornhill Building Services completed work on the stylish Polar Academy ‘HQ’ in Bo’ness.
Equally committed to a rigorous fitness regime, Mike is also a competitive endurance runner and mountain-biker.
Nigel Williams has had a long career in the outdoors starting in the military based in Norway then with Fife Council and later Sportscotland as Deputy Principle at National Centre, Glenmore Lodge for 20 years. Now a freelance outdoor instructor, he is a director of the National Navigation Award Scheme and author of the book Teaching Navigation. He has been a part of the Polar Academy expedition guide team from the start of the Polar Academy and also works with a range of other outdoor organisations from Harvey Maps to Wilderness Medical Training and the Britsh Exploring Society.
In addition to a number of outdoor qualifications Nigel has participated in 6 Himalayan climbing expeditions including 2 to Everest in the 1980s, and other expeditions from Alaska to South Georgia, and multiple trips to Greenland including a crossing of the ice cap 2008.
Nordic skiing and touring has remained his greatest passion for 4 decades.
Chris is a surgeon who has a sustained interest in wilderness environments. He started climbing at school and has continued to travel the world to fulfill this passion. It is his firm belief that youngsters should have similar opportunities, and so he is very excited to join the Polar Academy as a Trustee.
Chris is a member of both the Alpine and Climbers Club and sits on the Mount Everest Screening Committee. Recently, he completed a 30-year odyssey by climbing the Seven Summits. He is a world expert in cold injuries and has run the UK telemedicine frostbite service for the British Mountaineering Council for over a decade. In 2017, he co-founded the Global Polar and Altitude Metabolic Research Registry to help better understand the challenges of extreme environmental travel.
Chris is a co-author of The Oxford Handbook of Expedition and Wilderness Medicine, and although he has published extensively on altitude medicine, cold injury, vascular and renal transplantation surgery, he remains an active mountaineer, polar traveler and altitude/cold researcher.