The Great Outdoors (UK)
A life in the outdoors: a tribute to Andy Howell
Many participants in the TGO Challenge (TGOC) came to know Andy Howell through that event, but he was a keen outdoors person and an avid outdoor blogger with a sizeable following long before he first undertook the TGOC in 2006. I first met him at Tarfside that same year, sitting exhausted, weighed down by his beloved Nikon DSLR, and vowing, like many first-timers, never to do it again. We hit it off immediately and from that point on he became a regular contributor on my podcasts at The Outdoors Station.
His sudden death in October from an undiagnosed cancer has come as a huge shock to everyone who knew his name.
He was a large figure, not only in the outdoors community but also in the
political arena in Birmingham too, serving as Deputy Leader of the City Council from 1999-2003. The tributes found online all refer to him as a towering figure and a great loss to the Midlands political landscape. His other passion was acoustic guitar and playing in the local music scene.
Although I walked many miles with him, drank many beers and enjoyed many laughs, we never really spoke about politics which I felt was never quite as important to him as the appreciation of the view.
This naturally involved him wandering off from the conversation mid-sentence to take a picture, returning only to enjoy the friendly competition between us as to who had the best home-dehydrated meal that night.Like me he vowed never to do the ‘Challenge’ again, and like me, he returned time after time, sometimes recording other hikers for our famous
series of TGOC podcasts. Sharing the highs and lows of their days, the banter and ‘Challenge’ gossip. I listen to his voice again now so full of life, accompanied by the sound of wind and rain, those familiar acoustics of Scotland.
All who knew him or spent time with him have spoken of a generous, welcoming, helpful, warm and humorous man, ready to support those exhausted after a tough day in the hills, offer advice when asked about hiking anywhere in Europe, and share little tips or tricks he had learned along the way.
For me he was just my good friend, always supportive, always lending an ear when I needed it and a great contributor to my digital efforts to record life in the outdoors. Our thoughts and prayers are of course with his wife Kate and family at this sad time. Farewell old friend.