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Pammy Johal - Founder and Operations Director of Backbone. Celebrating Diversity Through Adventure.

Renata Chlumska  - Adventure athlete who became the first Swedish and Czech woman to climb Mount Everest and in 2005 did a circumnavigate of the lower 48 States of the United States by her own power.

About Pammy:

Born in the 60’s in inner city Coventry to a Sikh immigrant family. At 16, a school trip introduced her to the mountains where she experienced the WOW moment that changed her life. A force much bigger than her took her to explore wild landscapes of the world! Not something her parents or community were keen on. “It’s not what our girls do!.. what will everyone say??!!” Her drive was so strong she did it anyway at the risk of totally losing her world.

She encountered many complex and painful challenges with people of all backgrounds including her own family/community. Through these emotional and physical challenges, she discovered her own core values. This was a journey of self-discovery, understanding and respecting differences and a passion for environmental protection.

Pammy has been an outdoor/environmental practitioner since 1979 and in 1995 it struck her hard as she noticed the lack of Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic role models in the sector, at every level, from service users to Board level and felt very strongly this had to change.

In 1995 she laid the foundation for what is now Backbone..

Backbone is a leading Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic outdoor environmental education organisation acknowledged on a national and global platform for successfully addressing diversity and inclusion in the sector.

The key to their success is partnership working based on the values of:

  • Genuine Intention

  • Trust and Integrity

  • Direct Benefit of All Communities

They provide a safe and comfortable space for people and organisations to grow in their uniqueness.

Together with their partners they are making a difference in the sector and to the communities they serve.

‘Adventure’… For some is climbing an unknown peak and for others it is leaving the City. The commonality is leaving the comfort of YOUR home and entering the unknown.. a journey of discovery to magical places!

Learn more about Pammy and the work that Backbone is doing. Listen now via the Tough Girl Podcast. New episodes go live every Tuesday at 7am UK time - Hit the subscribe button so you don’t miss out.

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Listen to Pammy Now!

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Show notes

  • Who is Pammy and what she does

  • Being an outdoor practitioner for over 40 years

  • Working in America and all over the world

  • Coming back to the UK in 1995

  • Growing up in Coventry, UK

  • Getting exposed to the outdoors

  • Going against family expectations

  • Living up in the highlands of Scotlands

  • Having to have difficult conversations with her family

  • Entering the outdoors in the 70s and what is was like being a female

  • The struggle of being taken seriously

  • Leaving America and headed back to the UK

  • What Backbone is about

  • Why the name Backbone

  • Why change is happening so slowly

  • Competitive Research Syndrome

  • The excuses for inactivity

  • Changing Landscapes - Actioning Change

  • Being fed up of talking



  • Going national

  • Handling frustration and what can be done to make change happen faster

  • Why the sector is a service industry

  • Why organisations need to change

  • Why groups need funding and money

  • What does adventure mean to Pammy

  • Helping to break barriers down

  • Wanting to inform on policy

  • What training is offered

  • The unethical behaviours

  • Dealing with the mental and emotional toll

  • Going on the big challenges and expeditions

  • The power of spending time in the mountains

  • Getting into skiing

  • Advice for women who want to spend more time in the outdoors

  • Why aren’t you doing it?

  • The pleasure of building up your skills

  • Go and learn how to read a map

  • Connect with Pammy on the socials (See below)


  • Final words of advice

  • Why - Life is too short to wear tight shoes

  • Listen to your internal soul

  • Why you need to be doing it.


Social Media

Facebook: @backbone.cic

Twitter: @BackboneCIC


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