Edward Gildea

Edward’s life changed as a result of taking part in the 2013-14 Clipper Around the World Yacht Race.

Up until then, he was moderately concerned about the state of our planet, recycling and using trains conscientiously. Sailing 24,000 miles across the oceans from Australia back to London via Singapore, China, San Francisco and New York changed all that. It gave him a powerful connection to the planet.

“Helming is a form of mindfulness. One of my skippers had a rule ‘Helm and Breathe’. The only thing you were allowed to do at the helm was breathe. Not talk, drink, laugh, point out a breaching whale… just breathe. You then felt every shift in the breeze on your cheek, every movement of the boat under your feet, every changing sound of the wake at your stern…

“You connect to the planet.”

These powerful experiences were coupled with learning of the birth of two of his grandsons while at sea. These turned him into a committed green activist.

In 2018 he completed his circumnavigation by sailing a further 15,000 miles from Uruguay to Australia. During both adventures he studied the intriguing links between team building and leadership on board ocean racing yachts and in school leadership. 

Environmental Activism

A former headteacher with 25 years' teaching experience and a highly successful freelance educational consultant for 18 years, specialising in aspects of leadership, change and conflict management, he now takes to the streets, with movements such as XR, Reclaim the Power, Climate Reality and the Green Party.  He is Eco church team leader for his local church and contributes to a variety of environmental working parties to drive strategy locally. 

He is very proud to have played a role in the decision of Uttlesford District Council to reject the application for Stansted Airport expansion, which set the legal precedent that was swiftly followed at Southampton and Bristol airports, culminating in the rejection of the 3rdrunway at Heathrow.

Trekking and Mountaineering

Trekking and fell walking have also provided formative experiences. His years in the Boy Scouts gave him invaluable grounding in resilience, navigation and survival skills, teamwork and endurance. In later life he climbed Kilimanjaro, Mount Meru, Toubkal, Mont Blanc, Monta Rosa and two summits over 20,000ft in the Himalayas as well as trekking in Peru and the Atlas Mountains.

Former professional roles:

  • Teacher of English, Drama and English Literature

  • Headteacher with Inner city and Technology College experience

  • Consultant and facilitator for ASCL and Cambridge Education

  • Education Consultant on Building Schools for the Future

  • Accredited School Improvement Partner (SIP)

  • Associate lecturer at the universities of Kingston and Derby


  • 'Tackling Underperformance - strategies for managing challenging conversations' Optimus Education in 2012.    

  • ‘Successful Middle Leadership’  Optimus Education in 2013 

Edward Gildea