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].
Jon Arnold, Senior Operations Manager
Jon travelled to Tanzania on his gap year in 2004, this was organised by Roger. After graduating from university he started working for Oyster in 2007 and has been here ever since.
Favourite travel memory: Wow, where to start?! Swimming with turtles in Mexico, visiting Chichen Itza, climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, watching sunrise over Mount Meru…
Strangest travel experience: Having to do a maths test whilst diving… whilst on my gap year in Tanzania, I spent a couple of weeks staying in the island paradise of Zanzibar during which time I took a couple of the modules towards my Advanced PADI Diving Qualification. One of the compulsory dives is to do a ‘deep dive’ down to 30 metres and, to test for signs of narcosis, I was given a maths test to do at the surface and also at 30m. A maths test is certainly not what I had signed up for that morning! Thankfully, GCSE maths had not completely deserted me and I passed with flying colours!
Top travel tip: Solar powered battery chargers, even in equatorial Africa, are not a good idea. I took one to Tanzania and to charge two AA batteries requires 12 hours of direct sun-light. I had a garden with walls all around it so every 20 minutes I was out having to move the charger into the sun!
Next destination on my bucket list: Dubai. Not for the city but for heading out into the desert!
You can contact Jon directly on +44 (0) 1892 771972 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 living on the farm in Australia one of our workers accidently 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 Coordinator
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: Going downstairs to use the toilet 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: China and Japan, I would love to experience the culture and see the sights!
You can contact Jess directly on +44 (0) 1892 771973 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.