Ian Callen

Director and Co-founder

Ian Callen is the founder and one of the directors of Go Beyond. He has lived in France for over 15 years and has been a qualified teacher since 2007. Ian knows the region extremely well and spends his spare time climbing, walking and photographing the Gorges du Verdon. He also presents a fortnightly radio show for local to the area, Radio Verdon, a show that celebrates British music.

Ian worked in at The Olive Tree International School teaching photography, horticulture, conservation, biology and astronomy to children with challenging behaviour. In Bristol, England Ian worked for the Brandon Trust, teaching conservation and horticulture to people with learning disabilities. He lives with his wife, Anna, and three children, Joseph, Jasmine and Poppy, in the Provencal town of Riez.

Ian has a City & Guilds teaching qualification, RHS General and Advanced certificates in horticulture. Ian is trained in First Aid to British Red Cross Standard (January 2019). Ian also has training in Epilepsy and Midazolam, Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults and the Mental Capacity Act.


A Few Questions to Ian Callen

What motivates and inspires you?

To find the beauty or positives in a challenging circumstance or difficult situation. Living here in Provence is very inspiring, the landscape, nature and people that I meet are triggers to new ideas that usually get filtered into Go Provence somehow. I love working on an idea that I can trace it’s root to the moment it was born. For example, the idea for supported holidays came in the shed/classroom when I was working for the Brandon Trust, teaching at Elm Tree Farm in Bristol. Here we are nearly ten years down the line.
I find other people inspiring and this in turn motivates me to improve myself. A young, Scottish chap, David, stayed with us recently and I was inspired by his photography, which is a big passion of mine, and it made me realise that if I made more of an effort I could achieve better results.

A short video from Ian Callen

Ian Callen

What are your strengths?

Obstacles don’t bother me, they only make me more determined to get something finished. I like the struggle to achieve a goal. I love seeing others acheive too, Go Provence gives me a great platform to help others realise their dreams and goals. We had a client on holiday with us, Ed, a great photographer, who had won awards for his work but couldn’t find anyone to give him wall space for an exhibition. When he was with us, we arranged with a local restaurant owner, Jean Jacques, in Moustiers Sainte-Marie, for an exhibition to take place in his restaurant, Le Belvedere. We had an opening evening, the local press turned up and Ed sold five photos. As you can imagine Ed was a very happy man, and all of this happened whilst Ed was on holiday with us. I love all that, ideas coming from nothing.

What about your weaknesses, where do you need support?

You will probably have to speak to my wife for that one, or the rest of the Go Provence team. I sometimes get overtaken by an idea, so Anna, my wife, helps me to keep my feet on the ground. I can come across as too serious, but that is usually because I have a lot of things to think about. If that happens, just give me a friendly punch and tell me a joke, I always have time for a joke and that grumpy look will soon dissapear..

What is the highlight of working for Go Beyond Holidays?

Without a doubt the people that I spend time with and the environment I spend it in, with them.

Do you have any personal ambitions?

To become a better photographer and write a nature book on the Gorges du Verdon.

Finally, if you were set adrift on a desert island which three albums, three films, three books and one luxury would you take?

For music, very difficult as I would want to take a 100 records with me but I would take, ‘Essential Leonard Cohen’, by Leonard Cohen. ‘Green’, by REM and ‘Carrie & Lowell’, by Sufjan Stevens. If I could take a fourth it would be ‘Look Inside Your Heart’, by The Wave Pictures.
My books would be ‘The Pilgrimage’, by Paulo Coelho, ‘Sweet Thursday’, by John Stienbeck and Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’.
My films are Interstellar, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and Donnie Darko.
A luxury would be my camera.

Meet the rest of the team…