About us

Aiming Off Expeditions officers

Mal Mason

Mal is a Geography graduate. After working in academic research he qualified as a teacher in 1985 and worked in a secondary school in Sussex before moving into Outdoor Education. After 15 years as an Instructor/Fieldwork Coordinator in a Centre in the Welsh borders an injury forced a change of direction and he returned to teaching briefly, before taking up an appointment as Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Award Development Officer for Herefordshire. While in this post he was registered as Course Director for the Basic Expedition Leader Award (BELA) and course director for DofE Expedition Assessor training. He then worked as DofE Manager at Hereford Cathedral School and until autumn 2019 he was DofE Manager at Hereford Sixth Form College. Mal has organised and led DofE expeditions at all levels by foot, horseback and canoe. He holds a summer Mountain Leader and Single Pitch Supervisors Award (SPA) and is a DofE Accredited Assessor. A keen walker, he has led walks for two local Walking Festivals. Mal holds enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) status.

Nic Howes


Nic graduated in 1977 and qualified as a Geography teacher in 1978. He started teaching at a Herefordshire school that year and was appointed Head of Department in 1984. Nic gained his summer ML in 1986 and is also now a DofE Accredited Expedition Assessor. He has worked as a consultant, attended conferences, written several articles and contributed to textbooks on the school Geography curriculum and learning outside the classroom. The school was nominated for the National Award for excellence in Learning Outside the Classroom. Nic was involved in co-leading the school DofE group from 2003 and has organised and supervised numerous expeditions at all levels of the Award. Nic retired from his teaching post at the school in 2011 and has since worked as a supply teacher and part-time tutor at Hereford Sixth Form College; he is Mal's volunteer assistant with managing the Gold Award group at the College. Nic has led walks for two local Walking Festivals and other groups including the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and Herefordshire Wildlife Trust. Nic holds enhanced DBS status.

Derek Pawling

Derek retired from secondary school teaching in 2014.  He was his school’s DofE Centre Manager from 2000 to 2015.  He now works as a freelance outdoor instructor specialising in DofE expeditions.  Derek is a DofE assessor and NNAS Bronze & Silver tutor.  He holds Mountain Leader (summer), Walking Group Leader and Basic Expedition Leader Awards.  He is registered with the enhanced DBS.