Roger Salwey, Founder and Director
Roger first got involved in gap years and youth travel in 1994 before starting Oyster in 2006.
Favourite travel memory: Kayaking down the Zambezi on the Zambian/Zimbabwe border passing crocs, hippos and elephants – being told not to put our hands in the water was good advice.
Strangest travel experience: Flying Aeroflot in Russia in 1994 and not being offered a brightly coloured drink because the hostess couldn’t reach where I was sitting because of all the heavy luggage left in the aisle.
Top travel tip: Take two portable battery chargers. Offering electricity is always a good way to make friends and running out is very distressing.
Next destination on my bucket list: It has to be Iceland, I have wanted to go there since studying Geography a very long time ago.
You can contact Roger directly on +44 (0) 1892 771971 or by email [email protected].
Anne Smellie, Destination Manager
Anne travelled to Romania, with Oyster, to volunteer at the bear sanctuary in 2009. She loved it so much that she headed out to Costa Rica to help set up our turtle programme before becoming a full-time member of staff in 2010.
Favourite travel memory: Ooh Can I have two? Collapsing on the beach on Zanzibar after having climbed Kilimanjaro and seeing the sun rise over Petra in Jordan.
Strangest travel experience: Whilst travelling in Burma I travelled on a goods ferry down the Irrawaddy river. I was writing some letters home when a lady making an enormous brightly coloured blanket asked if she could swap her beautiful blanket for my old biro. Best swap I have ever done, and it meant her child could go to school.
Top travel tip: Pack light. If you can’t get it in a day sack, you don’t need it!
Next destination on my bucket list: I have a long list, including China, Zimbabwe and Argentina.
You can contact Anne directly on +44 (0) 1892 771975 or by email [email protected]
Georgie Collcutt, Marketing and Overseas Project Manager
Georgie joined Oyster in 2016 after moving back from Australia where she managed our outback farm programme for 6 years.
Favourite travel memory: So many however if I have to choose: winding through the Sri Lankan jungle at dawn watching the sun rise over the mountains from the back of a colonial train. The first time I saw the iconic Statue of Liberty, The Golden Gate Bridge and The Sydney Opera House were moments that I will never forget.
Strangest travel experience:
When I was living on the farm in Australia one of our workers accidentally started a bush fire when a tractor part hit a rock and sent a spark into the drought stricken grass. I spend 6 hours in the blazing sun beating out flames in my flip flops with a tree branch. The following week the farm was hit with one of the largest cyclones in living memory. My entire house was under water, the tarmac was peeled from the road and we were isolated for about 5 days. It’s funny how things can change so quickly.
Top travel tip: Expect the unexpected and go with the flow. Don’t imagine what things should be like when you are overseas and certainly do not try to control them, just live in the moment. You will get a real experience by immersing yourself into a completely different culture, environment and way of thinking. As they say: When in Rome, do as the Romans!
Next destination on my bucket list: Having lived overseas for years, I now have a real desire to see what has always been right on my doorstep. The beauty of Sweden, Norway and Finland really appeals to me. I’d also like to visit some more amazing European cities, I’ve never been to Rome or Florence and I’d love to take a trip back to Barcelona. I am also passionate when it comes to any trips that involve horses. For example ranches in the Rockies, Kenya, South Africa, Argentina or New Zealand.
You can contact Georgie directly on +44 (0) 1892 771 977 or by email [email protected]
Jessica Prestage, Events and Overseas Project Manager
Jessica joined the Oyster team as an intern in 2019, having completed four projects so far.
Favourite travel memory: Floating on the surface of the ocean in Thailand, watching bubbles from other divers rise through the water in the brilliant sunshine. Cameras can’t capture the sparkle, so nothing beats seeing it for the first time with my own eyes!
Strangest travel experience: My first trip, Borneo 2016; going downstairs to use the bathroom during the night and coming face to face with a komodo dragon. Suffice to say, I went straight back to bed!
Top travel tip: Make the most of the opportunities, they might not come about again!
Next destinations on my bucket list: It has to be Laos. I loved Borneo, so would like to see more of that part of the world. There’s just something about rainforests, they are so beautiful!
You can contact Jess directly on +44 (0) 1892 771973 or by email [email protected]
Aimee Ford, Ski and Work Programs Manager
Aimee joined the Oyster team in 2020 having done 2 projects in her gap year, became an ambassador throughout university, and is now full time staff.
Favourite travel memory: It has to be one of the best things I’ve done, skydiving over the Fox Glacier on the South island of New Zealand. Absolutely stunning scenery, beaches on the coastline, snow topped mountains, and that was just the flight up there!
Strangest travel experience: Whilst on a group tour in Belize, staying on a house boat, our tour guide pulled something from the water and said for us to try it. Probably one of the worst things I’ve ever tasted, turns out it was a sea urchin. Safe to say I won’t be asking for that next time!
Top travel tip: Take photos! In years to come, they will remind you of things you’d long forgotten and bring back some great memories.
Next destinations on my bucket list: South America, in particular Patagonia. I love being in the mountains and just looks like a stunning place to be.
You can contact Aimee directly on +44 (0) 1892 771972 or by email [email protected]
Overseas representatives and coordinators
You don’t get anywhere without reliable ground staff. They are the overseas face of the company, acting as our eyes, ears and hearts and providing a real lifeline for participants. We’re really proud of ours; most of them have been with us since the beginning of each project and their warmth, humour and experience is frequently cited by participants as the most crucial element in adjusting to life abroad.
On each of our projects, you will have the support of an Oyster Representative, Volunteer Coordinator or Leader.