TWO veterans with a passion for the great outdoors have launched a new venture to help people of all backgrounds develop leadership, teamwork and survival skills.

Former Light Infantry soldiers Liam Quinn and Jo McMillan will draw upon years of experience to deliver action-packed leadership programmes in the woodland and fields surrounding Whitworth Hall Hotel in Spennymoor.

From shelter-building and axe-throwing, to blindfolded rally driving, fire making and situation awareness exercises – the confidence-boosting activities will encourage work colleagues, friends and other groups to work together.

The pair strongly believe in the power of nature to calm the mind and aid recovery from injury and illness. This is something Mr Quinn, from Catterick Garrison, experienced first-hand when he was injured while training new recruits in 2003.

“I was working at the Infantry Training Centre and one of the guys made an error during a training exercise,” said the 45-year-old father-of-three.

“He went to throw the grenade but dropped it and I ended up jumping on top of him to shield him. I received shrapnel wounds to the head and was medically discharged a year later.”

Since then, Mr Quinn, has worked in tri-service training roles, but after completing a leadership course earlier this year he embarked on a new adventure with his former Sergeant Joe McMillan.

Mr McMillan, 49, who served in the Light Infantry for 24 years reaching the rank of Regimental Sergeant Major, shares his friend’s appreciation for outdoor pursuits and the pair realised they had the skills and experience to “do a better job”.

The new business partners began planning their venture five months ago and Lead the Way will be officially launched at Whitworth Hall Hotel on Thursday, August 31.

Mr Macmillan, a father-of-three from Seaham, said: “When you are in the Army you are forged together simply by being outdoors in an environment together. You experience the elements together, whether that be rain, wind or snow, and you look out for one another.

“We want to recreate that here for work colleagues and other groups by bringing them outdoors and getting them to take part in tasks where you have to focus and work together.

“Activities like this can really bring people out of their shell, developing their confidence and leadership skills. People can discover skills and qualities they didn’t know they had.”

The launch party, held from 6pm to 8pm, will be a chance to find out about the activities and programmes.

To attend, contact