Date: Thursday August 1, 2019 at 1:38pm
Thank you for agreeing to speak with NCNB today…You
served as an Officer in the British Parachute Regiment for a number of years,
what made you join the Military?
served for the British Army. He was sent to Burma during the Second World War
to fight against the Japanese. He had the most fascinating war stories, which
he regaled to me and my brother when we were kids. My dad was also in the TA.
I’d also always dreamed of being an explorer, ever since I was a young boy, and
many of my heroes – T. E. Lawrence, Richard Burton, Wilfred Thesiger, Robert
Scott – had a military background, so it seemed like a necessary and
What was your time like serving and going on
operational tours in the Army?
Overall it was
very enjoyable. Naturally it was tough at times, but I value the sense of camaraderie
and lifelong friendships I got from my time in the army. Afghanistan was an
intense tour, but it was a worthwhile experience.
You are still serving as a Reservist within the
Army, you recently went on exercise to Japan, what was this like?
I’d always wanted
to go to Japan because my grandfather was sent there in aftermath of WW2, so
when the opportunity came up to join the HAC, as part of the first ever joint
UK-Japanese training on Japanese soil, I jumped at the chance.
It was a historic
exercise to strengthen British-Japanese relations. The Japanese were very
welcoming and excellent to work alongside. We learnt a great deal from them,
and I’m sure the feeling is mutual. It stands us in good stead to plan and
conduct activity together going forward.
During 2013 – 2014, you walked the length of the
River Nile, your expedition was very popular on Channel 4, did your Military
career influence your love for adventure and the outdoors?
definitely. I already had a love for adventure and the outdoors, instilled in
me from my childhood in the Peak District and my love of reading books of that
sort. But the army gave me the opportunity to learn new skills, and qualifications
in adventure training, which set me up for what I went on to do. Most notably,
I took eight men on a mountaineering expedition to summit Mera Peak in the
Himalayas. It’s fair to say my time with the British Army only enhanced my love
Travelling is nothing unusual to the Armed
Forces, deploying to places that your normal person would not go to. What is
the most memorable place you have travelled?
It’s a bit like
asking me what my favourite country is, which given I’ve been to over 100 is
impossible to answer. But I travel and document my travels, to share with my
readers and my viewers what life is really like in these places that tourists
rarely venture. I’m always overwhelmed by the generosity of people who have so
little to their name. Sudan is one of the most memorable places for their sheer
I prepared myself
for a country torn apart by civil unrest, violence and poverty, but was greeted
by unimaginable hospitality and hope. In every settlement we passed through, we
were offered tea, and bread, and a place to stay, to the point where we had to
divert our route to avoid the locals because they were slowing us down. Still
this did not stop their efforts; one man would not accept our refusal to stay
in his house, so he carried his bed out to us in the desert!
What has been your greatest adventure so far and
All my adventures
have been great, but I am most proud of my most recent journey, which saw me
pass through 13 countries in the Middle East as I circumnavigated the Arabian
Peninsula. The previous journeys – the Nile, the Himalayas, Central America and
the Caucasus – were all preparing me for this last, and most difficult
expedition. It was the first one which was not commissioned by a broadcaster,
so I had to really believe in it to go ahead with it, which of course I did.
Along with a few mates, I set up my own production company to film the journey
from Syria to Lebanon.
The Middle East is
one of the least understood regions in the world, so it was really important
for me to shine a new light on it and its people, to share a different
perspective, and perhaps the real story. My new series, ‘Arabia with Levison
Wood’ will be aired on Discovery Channel on Thursday evenings at 9pm, from 27th
June for five weeks. I can’t wait for you to see it!
You have written a few books about different
adventures and experiences; do you plan on releasing any more books?
I am currently
writing my next book, which is due to be published within the next year. As my
career takes a new direction, I’m reflecting on what a life in the boots – both
my army and walking pairs – have taught me about my approach on life, and I’d
like to share these lessons with my readers. It’s part philosophical, part anecdotal.
On June 13th,
‘Incredible Journeys’, my first children’s book is published. I write about
twenty of the greatest journeys of all time, from Alexander the Great’s
conquering of the world, to Neil Armstrong’s journey to space, and all in
between. I hope it will inspire kids to travel themselves and put colour in the
world of adventure; the illustration is brilliant!
Next autumn (2020)
I will also be releasing my first photo book. A collection of my best
photography to date, from all my travels over the years. So, lots in the
Who has had the biggest impact on your life?
grandfather and my father inspired me to choose a career in the military. I
also received a letter when I was in my final year at school, from an officer
who had retrieved my wallet. When I wrote to him to thank him, I mentioned I
was interested in joining the army, and asked for any advice. He replied with
six pages of advice, highlighting travel as the most important thing. I still
have that letter, and I believe those words greatly impacted my 17-year old
You are an ambassador for the ABF The Soldiers
Charity, please tell us more about the charity.
ABF The Soldiers
Charity provides financial and practical support to soldiers, veterans and
their immediate family in times of need, even after they have left the army.
I’m involved with a number of charities who support soldiers, veterans and
their families. The support these charities provide is invaluable to the men
and women who receive it after service. The period of transition after leaving
the army can be very difficult, so it’s vital that they and their families know
they have someone to reach out to when they need.
As an ambassador I
endeavour to spread awareness of the wonderful work these charities are doing
and raise funds by giving talks.
Tell us something about Levison Wood that no one
Despite being a
former paratrooper, I suffer from vertigo.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk
with us, any final words or wisdom you would like to share with the Armed
Forces Community for 2019?
The army is a
great employer and there are lots of fantastic opportunities if you go out and
look for them. Never forget those you served alongside, and don’t be afraid to
make the most out of your army connections when moving on to a new civilian
career. We’re a community force to be reckoned with and the army will always
set people on a great path in the future.