Meet the BMC Ambassadors

Posted by Tina Gardner on 11/07/2019
Star line-up of BMC Ambassadors: (L-R Clockwise) Molly Thompson-Smith, Steve McClure, Mary-Ann Ochota, James McHaffie, Shauna Coxsey, Chris Townsend and Hazel Findlay

All sports need role models and climbing and hill walking are no exception, so we’re excited that seven of Britain’s top climbers, one of Britain's most well respected hill walkers, and Britain's well-loved TV archaeologist turned adventurer, have all agreed to be part of our inspiring team of BMC ambassadors.

The BMC ambassadors are: Hazel Findlay, Mary-Ann Ochota, Steve McClure, James McHaffie, Shauna Coxsey, Molly Thompson-Smith and Chris Townsend.
The ambassadors are helping the BMC raise its profile by acting as role models to inspire and engage young climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers. The initiative aims to encourage more young people to join and get involved with the BMC.
So keep an eye out for our ambassadors at BMC events, on social media, and participating in short films on our Youtube channel BMC TV.
The BMC ambassadors continue to get involved in all sorts of ways, largely through filming for BMC TV and spreading the word of the BMC through social media. Our ambassador scheme is funded by Sport England to inspire more young people to participate in climbing, hill walking and mountaineering. The initial focus has been on climbers in the first phase of the scheme to help attract more young climbers, however we're now delighted to have Chris Townsend on board as our first BMC hill walking ambassador.

Meet the Ambassadors

Shauna Coxsey: Boulderer

Shauna started climbing at the age of four and competing at seven. Competitions have been her passion for most of her climbing life with bouldering becoming her focus in recent years. Shauna is a multiple British champion in lead climbing and bouldering at junior and senior level. In 2012, her first year competing on the world cup circuit, she placed 3rd overall. Shauna is determined to push herself as far as possible both in competition and on rock. In 2013 she became one of a few women in the world to climb V13 (8B).  

2014 was a massive year for Shauna becoming the most successful competition climber in British history, gathering a haul of Bouldering World Cup medals, including a couple of long-anticipated golds, coming fourth in the World Champs and closing the season ranked second in the world. 

Outside, Shauna has sent New Baseline at Magic Wood in Switzerland, becoming the third woman in the world to boulder 8B+.

Shauna says: "From personal experience I can say the BMC's travel insurance is amazing. I would never leave the UK without it!"

Find out more about Shauna at

Follow Shauna on Twitter: @shaunacoxsey and instagram @shaunacoxsey

WATCH: Shauna Coxsey tries crack climbing with Pete Whittaker

Hazel Findlay: Adventure climber

Hazel Findlay has been climbing since she was seven, with early traditional style beginnings on the Pembrokeshire coastline with her dad. She was also a successful indoor competitor until the age of 16. Since then she has focused on climbing outside and travelled around the world in pursuit of adventures on rock! For the last few years she has been a full-time climber on The North Face team. 
In 2014, after spending the winter walking in Patagonia, Hazel turned her hand to sport climbing and headpointed Fish Eye at Oliana, Spain, winning the 'race' to a British female F8c.
Recently, along with Maddy Cope, Hazel headed to Mongolia to put up some new routes out there. Keep an eye on the TeamBMC Youtube channel for the film on that. 

Hazel says: The BMC is a great organisation that quietly gets along with all things that we as climbers wouldn't have the infrastructure to do ourselves. Such as dealing with annoying access issues, organising competitions and events, supporting young climbers and expeditions and providing useful information regarding crags, safety in climbing, conservation and a vast number of climbing and walking related subjects.

Find out more about Hazel at

Follow Hazel on Twitter: @hazel_findlay and instagram @hazel_findlay

WATCH: BMC Ambassador Hazel Findlay on BMC TV

Mary-Ann Ochota: Archaeologist turned adventurer

Globe-trotting archaeologist turned adventurer Mary-Ann Ochota is the latest signing to the team of inspirational BMC ambassadors. Mary-Ann is a British broadcaster and Cambridge-graduated anthropologist whose TV credits include the BBC’s Time Team, Channel 4’s Unreported World, and ITV’s Britain’s Secret Treasures.

Mary-Ann first teamed up with the BMC to present the Great Walks series on BMC TV, a spectacular short film series made in association with Marmot documenting five of the finest hill walks in the Lake District. She becomes the second BMC ambassador with a particular focus on hill walking, alongside renowned wilderness walker Chris Townsend, and aims to help the BMC reach more young people and women with a message about the power of getting outdoors.

Mary-Ann says: “It’s fantastic that the BMC are reaching out to the huge community of people who love walking in our hills and high places. The mountains are for everyone, and I’m honoured to be asked to do my bit to get that message out there.”

Expressing her love of the British landscape, she says: “There’s something about the green-and-pleasant that makes my heart sing. That view of Wasdale's field systems from the top of Kirk Fell in the Lakes, or tumbling into a Snowdonia village after a long day on the hill, or sitting at the top of Cairngorm in a snowstorm eating a pork pie.”

Find out more about Mary-Ann at

Follow Mary-Ann on Twitter: @MaryAnnOchota

WATCH: Great Walks: Scafell Pike on BMC TV

Steve McClure: Sport Climber

Brought up on the North York Moors, and with both parents keen climbers there was no escape from the sport. Climbing from the moment he could walk, his first extreme was at 11, his first E3 at 13 and first E5 at 16. With a traditional background, and onsight ascents up to E8 and E11 headpoint. He has since broadened his interest and excelled in sport climbing, with the hardest sport route in the UK at 9a+, numerous new routes at the grade of 9a and many onsights at 8b+. You might also find him picking his way up an ice field in the Alps or sleeping in a portaledge on a 1,000m wall in Greenland. Despite this he is still weak, but has mastered the art of the cunning…

In 2014, Steve made the first British on sight of Strawberries (E7 6b) - the 30-year-old Ron Fawcett testpiece at Tremadog, North Wales.  

Steve says: “Rock climbing: the best sport in the world. It’s easy to take it all for granted and the continual work of the BMC in negotiating and securing access is essential.  The cliffs and beautiful spaces that we enjoy so much are not ours. It’s not our right to be there, it’s a privilege.”

Find out more about Steve at

WATCH: BMC ambassador Steve McClure on BMC TV:

James McHaffie: Trad climber

James, known as Caff, grew up in Keswick in the Lake District, the son of Ray McHaffie, a prolific climber and renowned upland footpath builder. Caff embraced the outdoor lifestyle fully in the Lakes onsighting routes such as Camouflage E7 6b on Cam Crags, Flattery E7 6b on Flat Crag and De Quincy E7 6b on Bowderstone Crag as well as soloing many of the easier extremes. In 2002 he moved to Wales to study environmental science and continue in a similar vein. Highlights of the last few years were climbing Careless Torque a few times, Longhope, Big Bang, the first ascent of the Meltdown and lots of trad climbs.

In 2014, Caff spent seven days free climbing the Salathé Wall on El Capitan, Yosemite. In June, Caff soloed 100 Extreme climbs in one day, racking up an incredible total of 160 E points and 2,976m of rock climbing. Possibly the biggest day out in UK climbing history.

Caff says: “I think the BMC are great for a huge number of reasons from great insurance, accessing cliffs when Britain went mental over foot & mouth and they even employ people like Niall Grimes....”

Find out more about Caff at

WATCH: BMC ambassador James McHaffie on BMC TV:


Chris Townsend: Long-distance walker

Chris Townsend is the first hill walker to become a BMC ambassador.Chris is one of the world’s most respected experts on long-distance walking and backpacking. He's chalked up more than 15,000 miles in the wild places of North America, Scandinavia and Scotland through a dozen huge solo walks. A renowned writer, photographer and gear expert he's authored 15 books and recently starred in the stunningly-shot films ‘The Cairngorms in Winter’ and 'Life of a Mountain: Scafell Pike' by Terry Abraham.

Chris says: "Having been a member and supporter of the BMC for over 30 years I am honoured to be the BMC's first hill walking ambassador. In this role I hope to promote hill walking and inspire and inform hill walkers and show them why the BMC is important. The BMC's work on access and conservation is essential for the future of hill walking and should be supported by all hill walkers."

Find out more about Chris and keep up with him on his blog.

Follow Chris on Twitter @townsendoutdoor

WATCH: Chris shows how to use a layering system

Molly Thompson-Smith: Competition Climber

Focused, confident and competitive, competitions are Molly's life. If she's not training, she's thinking
about training: "I just love feeling satisfied after a hard session!" With over 20 national wins to her name,
including British Lead Champion four years running, BMC Ambassador Molly is training for the upcoming
Tokyo Olympics. Now 21, she's also got into climbing outside and travelling. A van life can't be far off.
Follow Molly on Instagram @mollyts123

WATCH: Molly showing Niall Grimes around comp-style problems on BMC TV:


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Anonymous User
Thiss "Ambassador" business seems to be becoming rampant these days. Some think it is organisations and manufacturers trying to climb on the backs of celebrities. Some that they are just paying for publicity.

That may be unfair in some cases. But even if so, these are not exactly impartial comments, are they..
Anonymous User
An "Ambassador" helps to promote the sport to varying age groups, despite the obvious link to celebrity status which you rightly point out. However, these are not celebrities, these are normal people who have excelled and become known within their own small world, community.

It takes a lot for a National Governing Body to find these people and what to use their talents to showcase the sport to a wider audience and an audience that wouldn't normally commit to. In order to encourage growth in sport you have to find advocates, ambassadors, normal people who will naturally encourage others to take part and get involved.

The government is failing to do this, if you hadn't noticed obesity is at an all time high in this country. It's time for a change and I for one are behind any organisation that is willing to promote natural skill and talent to others. In order to encourage those individuals to take up the sport. Any sport.

Your comments aren't unfair, there just based on a lack of knowledge.
Anonymous User
I very much appreciate the work done by ambassadors and other staff but the roll and the CVs seem to reflect the ongoing disproportionate attention to climbing interests. I have nothing against climbing and wish its adherents well, but the BMC's own surveys state that climbing is not the activity of greatest interest to its members.


BMC Coach Education & FUNdamentals workshops

Whether climbing or coaching indoors, on the crags, or in the Alps our workshops cover a range of themes that will broaden your knowledge and improve your coaching.
Read more »

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Fantastic value, BMC-subsidised outdoor climbing courses at Plas y Brenin are there to help everyone – adults, young people and families – make the move to climbing in the great outdoors.
Read more »

Chris Townsend becomes the BMC’s first hill walking ambassador

One of the world’s most respected experts on long-distance walking and backpacking is to become the BMC’s first hill walking ambassador.
Read more »

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