Meet some of our team and supporters ...

Head shot of Deirdre Butler - owner, founder Big Round World

Deirdre Butler - Born in England and living in rural areas next to farms and the moors, Deirdre spent most of her time outdoors having “adventures” either on foot or horseback. Her mother, a keen and observant naturalist, would take the family, accompanied by numerous dogs, on long walks and so developed Deirdre’s passion for all things wild and wonder-full. Work in the medical industry, brought Deirdre and her husband, Peter,  to America in 1997 - ostensibly for two years. Arriving in Colorado in 2000, Deirdre's desire to serve and her love of wildlife and nature led her to volunteer for a variety of wildlife and conservation focused organizations at both a local and national level. Deirdre has led over 50 day hikes and 40 mostly two-week long international trips including three successful summits of Mt Kilimanjaro.  Deirdre specializes in trips in her old home-country and has led England’s Jewel in the Crown - Coast to Coast trip, over eight times. A certified Wilderness First Responder, Deirdre lives in Lyons, CO with Peter and their menagerie of furry and feathered friends.

In-country Expert - Italy

Michelle Visser - Born in Holland (Michigan, USA) to Dutch parents, Michelle’s life typifies the secret life of librarians. She first went to Italy to study literature and then was awarded an internship in bookbinding and rare book conservation at the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale in Florence. She went on to live in Italy for nearly five years, becoming a dual USA/Italian citizen during that time. Michelle is fluent in Italian and has taught Italian both privately and at the universities of Iowa and Colorado. She worked for many years as a special collections librarian and is a connoisseur of unusual, entertaining, and often somewhat useless facts. Michelle travels frequently between the USA and Italy and loves sharing her knowledge of Italian culture with others. She also makes excellent roasted garlic gnocchi with red pepper cream sauce. Yum!

In–country Expert – France

Valerie Pellegrin (Combs) - Born and raised in a small village in the South of France, Valerie is no stranger to nature and creativity. Coming from a family of chefs and artists, she was naturally driven to study Art History at the University of Aix en Provence. Here, she honed skills that would compel her to open an antique shop, and eventually an art gallery and picture framing studio which she currently operates in the quaint town of Lyons, Colorado. Moving to Colorado in 1992 gave Valerie a wonderful opportunity to expand her English speaking skills, cultural experience and love for hiking, foraging and exploring the great outdoors. She loves to cook and share “the art of the table” with others both in the USA and abroad. Valerie’s passion for fine cuisine is also reflected in her years’ long work at a fine dining establishment just outside Boulder, CO. Her enthusiasm for sharing the depths and nuances of French culture, art and history bubble through in her conversation, perhaps best achieved over a French baguette, French cheese and a fine bottle of wine, French, of course.

In-country Expert - England

Jan Nicholson - was born on a working hill farm near Coniston Lancashire, England but in 1974 the new county of Cumbria was formed out of parts of Lancashire, north of the Sands (Morecambe Bay) Westmorland and Cumberland so she is a true Cumbrian girl. Cumbria is home to the English Lake District and is predominantly a rural county, considered the most beautiful county in the UK and now home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Her children were also born on a farm in Staffordshire and then brought up in Cumbria with Labradors, Herdwick sheep, and Galloway cattle. Jan has over 30 years’ experience in travel, leisure, and tourism from running a farm caravan and camping site, establishing a Clay Pigeon Shoot and Fishery, owning and running a 65-bed hostel and becoming a Cumbria Blue Badge Guide. She loves the outdoors, anything to do with Cumbria and nature, travel, friends and reading in the very little spare time she has. Jan’s motto is “If I don’t look after you someone else will”. 

Derek Tunstall MBE - A Mechanical Engineer by trade, Derek was born, has lived and worked in the Lake District, England his whole life. Derek is the epitome of service to others. Serving 25 years in front-line rescues with the Cockermouth Mountain Rescue Team and now as an Honorary Member, Derek was awarded the prestigious Member of the Order of the British Empire honour in 2000, from the late Queen Elizabeth II for services to the Lake District National Park Authority. His 50-year Lake District National Park award, including 10 years as Chairman of the Voluntary Warden Service, and 500 duties award (he’s done more than that) was received in 2022. As a Park Ranger, Derek has led guided hikes for the public, and organises work parties to improve the footpath system, and a yearly Sea & Mountain Rescue weekend. Guiding groups since 2005, Derek’s speciality is leading long distance hikes and getting everyone to the finish line with a smile on their face. Derek has toured Mont Blanc in both directions on his mountain bike, completed Scotland’s West Highland Way on foot and on bike, climbed 283 Munro’s and 214 Wainwright’s, hiked the Laugavegur trail in Iceland and completed 4 of the 5 hardest Via Ferrata in France and Italy. Whilst an active rescuer, Derek held a Casualty Care certification and now holds an Emergency First Aid Certificate. Derek is married to Anne (45 years) and has two sons and 3 grandchildren.

Lorraine Grundy - Lorraine was born in Liverpool and, as a result of her work in the Information Technology sector, has lived in various locations around England. She has been living in the Lake District since 2000. From a young child, Lorraine has loved cycling and hiking and as an adult has particularly enjoyed doing long distance trails. In 2004 she joined the Lake District National Park as a Voluntary Ranger where she has supported work parties and led public guided hikes. Lorraine also taught map and compass skills to the public on behalf of the Park. Lorraine’s travel adventures have included traversing the Italian Border into Slovenia; a 13 month backpacking trip around the world, including India, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore, 9 months traveling in Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii. She has also hiked the Langtang Valley in Nepal; the Lycian Way and the St Paul's Trail in Turkey and the Silk Trail in southern Spain. Lorraine completed her Summer Mountain Leadership training over 15 years ago and successfully achieved the Silver National Navigation Award 12 years ago. Lorraine holds a current outdoor first aid qualification.

Gene Goldberg - Growing up in Atlanta, Georgia, Gene was the only one in his family with outdoor interests. He met these by being active with the Cub and Boy Scouts. College and the army kept him from pursuing outdoor activities until he moved to Colorado in 1975. There he joined the Colorado Mountain Club and began hiking frequently. Eventually he became a leader for them, and afterwards also for another conservation and environmentally focused organization. Between these two, he has led over 100 day hikes and 70 one- or two-week long trips – hiking, backpacking, and cultural. These have been in the Colorado Rockies, Utah, Wyoming, California, England, Switzerland, France, Spain, Belgium, Austria, Croatia, Nepal, Bhutan, New Zealand, and Australia. Oh, and also 20 trips just in Italy, most of those in the Dolomites. Gene first became acquainted with Italy in 1969 when stationed in Naples with the US Army. A retired architect, he now fills his time leading hiking and hiking/cultural trips in these wide-spread areas. He lives in Denver, CO with his wife, Gail. 

Lyn Potier - Although she was born and raised in Guildford, a town just south east of London, Lyn now lives with her husband, Warren, on the beautiful North Cornish coast where she can indulge her passion for all things outdoors. She enjoys body boarding and archery as well as cycling and keeping fit, but her main love is walking. So far Lyn has completed half of the wonderful UK National Trails including the iconic South West Coast Path and Offa’s Dyke. She has also undertaken a charity walk in the Sahara Desert and for five consecutive years was part of a team competing in the Snowdonia Challenge Plus, a tough orienteering walking race in Wales. When she wants to relax, Lyn can be found in her garden most likely sitting in a chair reading a good book.

Peter Butler - Peter was born in Calcutta and lived there until the age of 4. Professionally trained as a biochemist, Peter truly blossomed when he changed direction and moved into Technical Sales and Marketing. On relocating to America with Deirdre, Peter set up his own Marketing & Communications business  with his first customer being his former company in the UK. As Chief Operating Officer & Finance Director, Peter is lending his considerable skills and abilities to Big Round World. Besides learning new skills as his primary hobby, Peter is an accomplished musician (piano, electric & classical guitar, drums), a highly skilled wood-worker (builds from scratch acoustic and  electric guitars, Shaker furniture and more) a keen gardener and planter of trees.