An interview with our Oppo champion, George Bullard
First up in our new interview series is George Bullard (follow George on Instagram, Facebook, and via his Website). Explorer, record holder and #OppoChampion, also the only person we know who would spend 113 days in a real life freezer for 'fun'. Find out how he went from his day to day life working in The City to balancing on a phone box in an inflatable kayak for a living...
WHAT AND WHEN WAS YOUR FIRST ADVENTURE?
I was misbehaving (badly) in the back of the car when I was small (5 or 6 years old) and my mother threw me out and told me to walk home – I guess that was my first experience of unplanned adventure…! It wasn’t far and I knew where I was, but it was enough to get me hooked!
My first proper adventure/challenge was swimming across the English Channel at 14yrs old (I was part of a relay team).
WHICH EXPEDITION HAS BEEN YOUR TOUGHEST TO DATE?
My hardest expedition to date was the longest fully unsupported polar journey in history which I, along with my team mate Alex Hibbert, completed at the age of 19 in the Arctic. The distance (1,374 miles), the duration (113 days), and the lack of mental stimulation was something that can’t be replicated anywhere else, not even in jail!
The physical side of life in the freezer was also tough but nothing can really compare to being inside your own head for such a long period of time, especially at that age. We walked for 10hrs 40mins per day, pulling our sledge (mine was called ‘Matilda’) containing all the supplies we would need for 110 days on the ice.
HAVE YOU HAD ANY CLOSE SHAVES?
I've had many close shaves (I think) although I tend not to dwell on them for too long!
The first time I came to terms with death was when I was 16 and we were swimming around the island of Barbados. I was dressed in a stinger suit (to stop jellyfish stings) and was 2 km offshore when the support boat lost me. I was alone in the shark and jellyfish infested waters for 20 minutes, bobbing around in the Atlantic Ocean.
I was also the guide on an expedition where we got attacked by a polar bear. Luckily it wasn’t our group that had the encounter, but it could easily have been.
As an adventurer, I spend a lot of time minimising and mitigating risks, and so although I haven’t been involved in any close shaves per se, I hope that I will continue in the same vein!
WHAT CONVINCED YOU TO LEAVE THE CITY AND JOIN IGO?
It was a pretty obvious choice to be honest and I didn’t take much convincing – it was clear that my passion wasn’t talking to buyside asset/fund managers about equity and debt products that (to be frank) they weren’t interested in either! When my boss caught me in a blow up kayak outside the office having kayaked into work, we all secretly knew that this wasn’t going to fly! IGO (making the ultimate adventures accessible; letting ordinary people achieve extraordinary adventures) seemed to form the basis of everything that I am passionate about and hence why I thought I would give it a whirl – what have I got to lose?
WHAT IS YOUR NEXT ADVENTURE?
For me, I am sailing the Pacific Ocean in July (you'll be able to follow) and then I'm planning a few other expeditions; to reach the north pole in Winter, and also to ride horses back from Beijing to London.
HOT OR COLD CLIMATE?
IF YOU WEREN'T DOING WHAT YOU ARE NOW?
I'd be at home in Norfolk with my epic family!
ESSENTIAL PIECE OF KIT?
Multi tool pen knife with a fire stick.
MOST EMBARRASSING EXPEDITION MOMENT?
Covered in human waste on day 3 of a 5-week expedition in Svalbard.
BEST LOO WITH A VIEW YOU'VE HAD TO DATE ON AN EXPEDITION?
On South Georgia (a small island in South Georgia) where we were looking for Shakleton's stove.
ALONE OR WITH A PARTNER?
With a partner. I find expeditions and adventures so much more valuable if shared.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB?
Being my grandmother's gardener for a few weeks!
BEST DATE YOU'VE EVER BEEN ON (OR INSTIGATED...)?
Cooking bacon sandwiches on a fire in a hedgerow, followed by wild swimming in a river – didn’t even get a snog! It was still the best though!
FIRST SONG YOU EVER BOUGHT?
Rotterdam by Beautiful South.
WEIRDEST THING YOU'VE EVER GOOGLED?
Cheapest place to get my hair cut in London.
In the countryside.
ONE THING YOU CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT?
TELL US A JOKE?
If I had two goldfish, I would call the first ‘one’ and the other ‘two’… because if one died I would still have two left.
IF YOU COULD GO ANYWHERE- NOT ON AN EPIC CHALLENGE, WHERE WOULD YOU GO?
An unpopulated island somewhere with a few friends where we could live off the land and sea.
WHICH CELEBRITY WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO WORK WITH?
Roald Amundsen (Norwegian Explorer). Although he is no longer alive...
At the moment, I'm:
READING: No books right now (I know, guilty!).
LISTENING TO: Little by little (Ulf Nilsson).
EATING: Tribe Trail Mix.
WEARING: Cycling shorts!
WORKING TOWARDS: Getting more people on expeditions with IGO.
DREAMING ABOUT: Writing a book, riding horses from Beijing to London, and reaching the North Pole in winter.
And finally, onto indulgence...
WHAT'S YOUR SECRET INDULGENCE?
Co-op own-brand crisps, and Oppo!
THE PERKS OF BEING AN OPPO CHAMPION?!
Free ice cream for life ;)
FAVOURITE OPPO FLAVOUR?
OPPO TOPPING OF CHOICE?