Real-life mur­der mys­tery

Friday - - Leisure -

He says Rachel’s death changed him in many ways. “It makes you more sen­si­tive to emo­tional stim­uli. Mov­ing movies are more likely to up­set me.

“But the most pro­found ef­fect it’s had is that it has made me in­tol­er­ant of wasted time.”

At first, he couldn’t imag­ine ever meet­ing any­one else, but 18 months af­ter Rachel’s death, Mears met Ruth at a book-sign­ing. She was a ma­ture stu­dent read­ing ar­chae­ol­ogy at Durham Univer­sity.

“I’ve no idea how, but she broke through the fog that had been sur­round­ing me. It was love at first sight,” he re­calls.

They went on to marry. “Ruth is part of the new me. I’m very lucky to have had a sec­ond chance.”

The son of a printer, Mears spent his first two years of life in La­gos, Nige­ria, where his fa­ther’s work had been, be­fore the fam­ily moved to Ken­ley on Sur­rey’s bor­ders.

It was there that his love of na­ture came into its own, and on leav­ing school he went on ex­pe­di­tions with vol­un­teer­ing char­ity Op­er­a­tion Raleigh, be­fore join­ingWorld mag­a­zine as a pho­tog­ra­pher, later found­ing his com­pany, Wood­lore. When his bushcraft tal­ent was honed for TV, he dis­cov­ered his new­found fame in­evitably led to a loss of pri­vacy.

“That’s the price you pay,” he re­flects. “But for me, it was worth pay­ing be­cause I be­lieve in what I do, and want to bring it to a wider au­di­ence. “I hadn’t re­alised how widely it would take off and that the pro­grammes would be shown world­wide.” The hard­est job he’s ever had though, was help­ing po­lice track mur­derer Raoul Moat, who’d gone on the run fol­low­ing a killing spree in Northum­ber­land in 2010.

The bush tracker joined a Tor­nado fighter jet and scores of armed po­lice of­fi­cers in the £1 mil­lion-plus (Dh5.8 mil­lion) search for the for­mer door­man and re­cently re­leased pris­oner af­ter he went to ground for six days in wood­land sur­round­ing the scene of his crimes in Roth­bury. “I hope it never hap­pens again,” Mears says, shud­der­ing.

“The stakes were so high. I didn’t seek glory or charge po­lice for my time or ex­penses. I have a unique skill and was in a unique po­si­tion to help.

“For 10 years I’d been teach­ing Bri­tish spe­cial forces how to sur­vive,” he con­tin­ues, “so I have a good un­der­stand­ing of what hap­pens to peo­ple when they try to do what he [Moat] was try­ing to do.”

In the more com­fort­able world of TV, Mears has just fin­ished film­ing a se­ries in Amer­ica on the WildWest for BBC Four, which will go out next year, but says he doesn’t watch sur­vival shows that cre­ate a false sense of jeop­ardy within the pro­grammes for en­ter­tain­ment’s sake.

“I try to bring peo­ple and na­ture closer to­gether. In the dig­i­tal age, it’s more im­por­tant now than ever be­fore,” he adds.

“It’s easy to sit in a con­crete build­ing be­hind a com­puter screen and not re­alise that you’re still de­pen­dent on na­ture, that you are an an­i­mal, a part of na­ture, and that your ac­tions on a daily ba­sis in­flu­ence the nat­u­ral world that sur­rounds you.”

In his au­to­bi­og­ra­phy bushcraft ex­pert Ray Mears talks about his love of na­ture

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