What triggered your interest in the outdoors?
A childhood spent almost entirely outdoors.
What are you currently doing?
Working with school children with special educational needs – predominantly in an outdoor environment to help them cope with the pressures of mainstream education. I call it outdoor nurture – be it sailing, kayaking, rock scrambling, bird watching or just soaking up the sounds and smells of the forest or on the beach listening to the waves.
How has the Fast Track Scheme influenced this?
It taught me how it’s ok to be out of your comfort zone, that it’s ok to try and to fail, the main thing is to take a deep breath, get back up and learn from mistakes. It taught me about the importance of resilience. Finding myself living in a small house with a bunch of mostly youngsters taught me so much about empathy, helping and listening to others. Also being surrounded by people who are passionate about the outdoors and had a sparkle in their eyes for what they do acted as a great motivator.
How has the Fast Track Scheme affected you as an outdoor practitioner?
I adapted the skills I learnt to do what I love – which is helping nervous and less confident children to succeed and build their sense of worth and self esteem. At times it is subtle, but the journey I went on at Plas y Brenin helped me immeasurably to achieve this.
What key bits of advice would you offer someone aspiring to do the scheme?
Learn and listen from all those around you – remember we all have personal styles. Take what you learn from others and then make it your own. Work hard but don’t forget to smile and have fun along the way… and enjoy eating all those cakes. If you’re working hard, you’ll burn them all up.
What is your fondest memory from Fast Track?
The cakes! And how supportive and kind the other fast trackers were of one another – regardless of the huge differences in age or background. It was truly humbling. It was an experience I will never forget.