The Team

Who we are

We are a wonderful collection of former primary teachers, workshop leaders, artists, dramatists, musicians and chefs! With what in common? The aim to reconnect children with their environment, enabling them to relate to it, learn from it, respect it, but most importantly enjoy it!


Justin Baker

Founder & Creative Director

Justin, a passionate and thoughtful educator with a love for the outdoors, cooking and folk art. He taught English as a foreign language abroad in various exotic countries, worked at many a summer camp and finally washed up back in London about 6 years ago. He was fortunate enough to have the chance to teach English at the French Lycée. There he spent many a happy day creating lively lessons with a strong emphasis on song, drama, poetry and play for young French folk. Whilst teaching he set up First Hand Education which has now grown into First Hand Experiences.

How we met

"I loved my time teaching in schools. I was afforded great freedom and creativity. However, I soon realised through various school trips how starved of nature and genuine experiences these children were. The more I delved into outdoor learning the more I felt I had to be a part of it. So here I am."


Louisa Gilman

Founder, Wonder Woman & Head of Programming

From a long line of educators, Louisa believes teaching is in her blood. With over 10 years of experience in primary and secondary settings, Louisa specialises in the design of creative curriculums as well as co-ordinating the teaching of Literacy across schools.

Louisa loves to entertain the children she teaches with her own short stories, plays and songs. Her First Hand creations will have you humming the tune for days to come!

How we met

"I had always tried to bring imagination and care to my roles in primary education, from writing school plays to creating theatrical pieces designed to spark creative writing. Justin and I both realised that not only was experience key to telling a good story but some stories just weren't being told.

I've an obsession with history and all things vintage so when I am designing the programmes there is definitely an echo of a time when the natural world was glamorous and most children's memories were anchored in genuine experiences. Seeing children sing about how they've been 'trying their hand at archeology' or 'making potions from fungi and seeds' at the end of the week always gives me a thrill."

"Wow, an amazing summer camp with a fantastic team of very talented people ... Hector is so excited to go every morning!
Very happy child = very happy mum!"

Anna Thom


Yusra Ali

Camp Mentor

Yusra has a passion for art and all things creative and is presently wrapping up her MA in Gallery Studies and Critical Curating. When she's not on camps or studying she is teaching refugees English as a volunteer. In her spare time she's a mean footballer and is currently building up an extensive baking repertoire!

How we met

"First Hand Experiences has always captivated me because though most children are only with us a week, they are constantly challenged within new surroundings and feel free to explore, which makes them good to be around. I've felt that I've become confident enough to be myself around them and I hope they feel the same."


Martha Garland

Art & Craft Co-ordinator

Martha is a textile design graduate from Central St Martins and a traditional craft & Steiner teacher, who believes it’s possible to make anything at all from your imagination - and she's come up with some crazy creations, such as flying creatures and wolf-catchers to name a few. Martha pays close attention to detail and is a fan of pure resourceful improvisation. She uses a wide range of materials from clay to wood, leather to vegetables and from paint to string; and ​her passion for large scale projects fits well with our philosophy of big ideas!

How we met

"I believe that First Hand Experiences successfully captures and encourages children’s interests in their everyday surroundings. It is through understanding and practise that confidence and accomplishment are developed, and of course through playful, colourful and practical creative activities!"


Erica Luke

Art & Nature Co-ordinator

For Erica, there is nothing more rewarding than working with her hands. Whether it's growing broad beans from seed or making magic cauldrons from paper mache, she finds great rewards in sharing her passion for 'creation' with children. She specialised in art direction during her Film & TV Production BA and then after a few years caught the gardening bug and studied Horticulture at Capel Manor College, situated in Regent's Park. Currently she is studying for her Early Years Educator Level 3 Diploma.

How we met

"As someone who enjoys dipping my toes into a variety of ponds, I split my time between working with children, maintenance gardening and freelance art projects. When the opportunity came to combine the three with First Hand Experiences, I jumped at the chance. I am inspired every time by the wonder and imagination children have in response to the natural world, and I strive to be similarly amazed by learning new things about it."

Join the team ...

Always on the look out for good folk

If you have experience in an education or pastoral childcare setting then get in touch.

Looking for an experience?

Are you looking to get experience with children in a different setting? Do you have an up to date DBS and a willingness to learn quickly? Then get in touch.​

contact us

A secret agent?

Excited by what we have to offer? Would you like to help us spread the word far and wide? Get in touch to discuss how you can become a First Hand Experiences friend.