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This year’s Oscars ceremony had nothing on our Leader of the Year Awards last week. What we lacked in glitz and glamour, we more than made up for in pride and pedigree!

We received a record number of nominations for our Leader Awards this year with the judges challenged by the longest shortlist yet!

Exodus Leader Award Winners

After much deliberation, tea, and biscuits, the panel of expert judges emerged having chosen a very worthy winner. Inundated with glowing reports of “going the extra mile” and feedback forms ticked with full marks, we are delighted to crown Suresh Bandara from Sri Lanka as our Leader of the Year – congratulations Suresh!

Thanks to everyone who took the time to nominate their favourite tour leader. Read on to learn more about Suresh, meet the runners up and find out who is the second Exodus legend to enter the Hall of Fame. Don’t forget to nominate your favourite leader in our 2019 awards – voting is now open!

Leader of the Year 2014 – Suresh Bandara from Sri Lanka

Along with his winner certificate, Suresh also receives £1000 which he’ll split equally between himself and the charity of his choice. He also wins a travel allowance of £1500 to put towards an Exodus holiday of his choice. Congratulations Suresh!

Judge’s comment: “Suresh has been voted this years’ Exodus Leader of the Year 2014 due to his dedication and enthusiasm for each and every trip – plus we couldn’t argue with the sheer number of client votes! He is a talented cyclist and enjoys showing Sri Lanka off to everyone. He works tirelessly to give little upgrades to each trip using his local contacts and always goes the extra mile.”

What our travellers said about Suresh: “Suresh was quite simply amazing. Attentive, charming, hard-working, considerate and always in control. Suresh frequently went the extra mile to make sure we were entertained and that we had the best possible trip.

I’ve been on a number of group tours and have had some great guides but Suresh is head and shoulders the best yet!” “When you’re on holiday and you don’t have to worry about transport, hotel arrangements, food stops and other stuff. Then, you’ve got a good leader. If he does it without you noticing it, he is the best leader.”

Hall of Fame Winner – Sara Bull, UK Leader

Judge’s comment: “Sara is our second leader to enter the Hall of Fame. A true Exodus legend, Sara features prominently in our Leader Awards every year having won the coveted Leader of the Year title in 2009, Best Mountain Leader in 2011 and Runner Up in 2010, 2012 and 2013.

Sara is the ultimate definition of an exceptional leader, working tirelessly on all her trips to give her clients the best holiday, and she even baking flapjacks for them! She is an inspiration to her groups and her knowledge, skill and experience is unbeatable and her personality warm, compassionate and charismatic.

As well as her Hall of Fame certificate, Sara will receive £500 that she will donate to her chosen charity.”

What our travellers say about Sara: “A true professional. Sara was fun, kind, interesting and gave of her time endlessly. She delighted in showing us the sights from the peaks. Her whole attitude was amazing. What a gem!

Sara leads several of our trips including: Walking in Tuscany (TDT) Snowshoeing in the Dolomites (CIS)

Runners Up

All runners up will receive £500 which is split equally between themselves and the charity of their choice.

Alvaro Saiz from Spain

Judge’s comment: “Alvaro is the boy every parent wants to have and the Exodus leader every client wants to take home with them. He’s loved for the amount of information he is able to provide during the walks but especially his fun and caring attitude.”

What our travellers say about Alvaro: His soul has lived in these mountains. His enthusiasm and care was second to none. He was always making sure we enjoyed every second of this wonderful place. The holiday would not have been the same without him.

Alvaro leads our Walking the Picos de Europa trip.

Freddy Camara from Cuba

Judge’s comment: “Freddy has been leading ecotourism trips since 1996. With his extensive experience, he is able to give each client a trip of a lifetime. His English is perfect and his knowledge about Cuba’s history, culture, birds and flowers is outstanding.”

What our travellers say about Freddy: “Freddy answered our questions, solved our problems, catered to our whims, caught up with the fastest, hung out with the slowest, entertained and educated us, and shared his country and his life, all with good nature and humour!

Trips led by Freddy: Cuban Highlights Ride.

Kay Thi Maw from Myanmar

Judge’s comment: “Kay is passionate about people and travelling. She has been working as a guide since 2006 and she loves sharing her knowledge about her country with her clients. She was even an outstanding Wushu player during her teenage years!”

What our travellers say about KayKay was the best tour leader we have ever had the pleasure of travelling with. She was extremely knowledgeable, proactive, organised, helpful, gracious, kind, funny, personable, friendly and so proud of her country. She laughed a lot and gelled the whole group together. She also wore the most beautiful traditional clothes.”

Kay leads on our Discover Burma trip.

Runner Up – Liz Proctor

Judge’s comment: “Liz is the ultimate multitasking leader, the Swiss Army knife of tour guides! She can turn her hand to any trip from walking and trekking to cycling and snowshoeing, and even cultural tours… the list goes on. But with every trip, she puts in the same dedication and commitment. She always goes the extra mile to ensure that her clients are never left wanting.”

What our travellers say about Liz…Liz was amazing. She clearly never stopped working, yet made everything seamless… we didn’t have to worry about anything – she knew the local trails like the back of her hand, could fix the (many!) punctures and other bike problems in an instant, dealt efficiently with hotel staff, kept our group of very different abilities well catered for by tailoring elements of the trip to individuals, and all with a sense of humour. It wouldn’t have been the same without her.

Liz leads on several Exodus trips: Atlas Descent, Amalfi CoastChianti Walking & WineTuscany: Cycle Siena & ChiantiWalking in Tuscany, Simien Mountains Trek

Book yourself onto one of our tours below and experience the professionalism of our tour leaders for yourself.