The Ghar Parau Foundation (GPF) provides funding to assist British caving expeditions to all parts of the world. The fund focuses on those expeditions that include an element of innovative exploration or scientific study and has a close relationship with the British Cave Research Association (BCRA).
GPF is particularly keen to encourage young cavers into expedition caving (as well as sport caving) to maintain an active caving community in years to come.
A Cave Link system partly funded by Ghar Parau is also available for use by GPF-funded expeditions.
There are several ways individuals can apply for and receive funding from the GPF, the criteria for which are detailed below:
- Ghar Parau Expedition Grant Award
- Alex Pitcher Awards (Individual grant)
- Mount Everest Foundation (External Expedition Grant)
- Ian Timney Award
Ghar Parau Foundation Expedition Grant Award
GPF Expedition Grant Award Criteria
- An Exploration Expedition is classified as a trip involving 2 or more people for a period of 5 or more (in-field) days to a caving area to undertake exploration caving and science outside the UK.
- The expedition can be multi-national, but generally, only Qualifying Participants will be considered for GPF Grant aid. There is a proviso that up to 25% of non-qualifying people may also be considered if these are indigenous cavers from countries where their caving community is small and would benefit from participation in an international expedition. These indigenous cavers must be true expedition participants, i.e. not guides, porters etc.
- A Qualifying Participant must be any of the following:
- a UK national;
- a non-UK national in full-time education in the UK;
- a member of a UK-based caving club or BCA who is resident in the UK.
- The applicant (i.e. the leader of the expedition) has to be a Qualifying Participant. (N.B. In the case of a multi-national expedition involving Qualifying Participants where the leader is non-qualifying, a Qualifying Participant can be designated as the leader of the UK contingent and thus apply for Grant aid).
- The application process does not permit joint expedition leaders, (a single individual must be designated the leader of the expedition).
Submission Rules for GPF Expedition Grant Award
The award process is broken down into two application periods in which the expedition must take place:
The Spring Round – From the beginning of April to the end of September (closing date 23:59 28th or 29th February), and
The Autumn Round – from the beginning of October to the end of March (closing date 23:59 31st August).
The GPF Committee meets a month or so after each deadline to allocate funds to the qualifying applications.
- If you also considering applying for a Mount Everest Foundation grant, the criteria are different: see the MEF website for guidelines.
- Expeditions must apply in the appropriate round that their expeditions fall into otherwise they will be rejected.
- Applications MUST be received before these closing dates or the application will be rejected.
Criteria for Judging Expeditions
It is a regrettable fact that the committee only has limited resources at its disposal. In order to make the best and fairest use of funds, GPF has over the years developed a set of criteria that allow the committee to judge the merits of one expedition against another. Further details of these may be found in the application form and notes; in brief, they may be summarised as:
- potential for the discovery of new cave
- the development of the sport as a whole
- benefits to the individual team members
- preparatory work and research
- contacts with local groups
- team size
- effective use of funds
- track record
- other sources of income
- young member participation
- quality of application
A team that has relatively little experience but has shown a good deal of personal financial commitment allied to considerable preparatory homework will fare much better at the hands of the committee than an experienced group that is not attempting to reach a particularly new or exciting area.
The overall budget and cost to the individual are also taken into account so that a small trip to Europe will probably receive a lower grant than a large-scale trip to more remote objectives.
The Ghar Parau committee also strongly recommends that you conduct a risk assessment for your expedition.
Alex Pitcher Awards
The Alex Pitcher Award is an award given to young cavers participating in their first caving expedition outside the UK. The GPF wants to encourage younger cavers to participate more in expeditions, and recognizes the cost of acquiring the necessary caving equipment, etc. to be able to participate is a limiting factor to participation. This award (individually based) is to help these individuals offset these costs.
The award can only be made via a GPF Expedition Grant Application (i.e. Alex Pitcher Applicants have to be participating in a specified expedition) and they are nominated by the expedition leader. The rules for the application to qualify are as follows.
The nominated applicant must be (all apply):
- on their first expedition outside the UK,
- under 25 at the time of the expedition, and
- a UK national or student studying in the UK or a member of a UK caving club/BCA.
The application will be rejected if these rules are not adhered to. If under the age of 16, a letter of consent from a parent would be necessary giving permission for them to partake in the expedition and apply for this award.
The Mount Everest Foundation
For decades now the GPF has provided financial support to caving expeditions that leave the UK to explore caves throughout the rest of the world. The track record of these expeditions is well known and the criteria which GPF apply when deciding to award a grant are simple.
For an even longer time, the Mount Everest Foundation (MEF) has supported UK mountaineering expeditions to the mountainous regions of the world, again with an impressive success rate.
The Mount Everest Foundation offers grants to expeditions of all disciplines going to remote areas doing original exploration (including cave exploration). The criteria the MEF uses to judge an applicant are as follows. Expeditions funded by the MEF must:
- Take place in mountain regions.
- Have exploration (the acquisition of new knowledge) as their main purpose.
- Normally the majority of its members are from the UK or New Zealand.
(See The MEF website for more information).
On occasion, a caving expedition can meet the criteria needed to apply to the MEF which include exploration and education, and research of mountainous areas of the world. In a normal year, several caving expeditions receive MEF support. The MEF committee asks the GPF committee to review the applications to ensure they are worthy of support.
As of autumn 2021, there is now a new protocol in place for caving expeditions to apply to the MEF and it is as follows:
- Caving expeditions apply directly to MEF using the dedicated MEF application form which can be found on the MEF website, putting GPF as a referee;
- The MEF Secretary forwards the relevant applications to the GPF secretary for consideration by the GPF committee within a given time frame;
- The GPF responds with a scoring for the expeditions within that time frame;
- The MEF communicates their funding decision to the expedition leader directly.
Be aware that both committees meet twice annually in spring and autumn but have different application deadlines. Please go to the two websites to ensure you don’t miss a funding deadline.
Ian Timney Award
Ian Timney was a keen caver and member of the Wessex Cave Club, with whom he did a number of sporting caving trips abroad including the Gouffre Berger. Following his untimely early demise his caving friends held fundraising events in 2021 and then donated £1,500 to the GPF to distribute in his name.
Following Ian’s wishes GPF has decided to make an annual award of £150 each year for the next 10 years to the caving expedition which we believe will have the most impact on its young participants. This could either be by having the most young members or being organised by mainly young people. Unlike the Alex Pitcher Award which is for individuals, the Ian Timney Award is made to the expedition as a whole.
For 2022, GPF decided that the CUCC Totesgebirge expedition would be the first winner of this award as it has both a large proportion of younger members and young organisers.
The GPF thinks it is important to recognise the value of risk assessment in managing both the obvious and the less obvious risks of caving expeditions. We encourage all expeditions to perform a risk assessment but we don’t actually review them as part of the application process and your expedition won’t be marked up or down for an award on the basis of your risk assessment.
Further information and examples of risk assessments can be found on this page.