Outdoor courses in north west Wales win £250k funds
A scheme to encourage people in north west Wales who are out of work, in education or training into outdoor pursuits has won £250,000 EU funding.
North West Wales Outdoor Partnership is to train up to 60 people in basic rescue, emergency care, mountain leading, climbing and canoeing skills.
Participants from Conwy, Anglesey and Gwynedd will then have a chance to train up to instructor level.
The outdoor pursuits sector is worth an estimated £150m to the area's economy.
The first ten-week for ten people course at Plas y Brenin mountain centre began last month.
Project coordinator Owain Williams said: "We want the skills to stay in Wales. Some people feel that they can't connect with their local environment, they don't always appreciate it as much as people from the cities do.
The team on the current course were able to complete their kayak and canoe training on Llynnau Mymbyr before they froze over in the recent arctic weather, he said.
Brendan Zyborski, from Menai Bridge, who has graduated in politics and sociology from Newcastle university, is one of the trainees.
He said: "I wanted to get into outdoor pursuits. I have been keen on mountain biking for years and am really interested in rugby and walking.
"I thought if I could get working in that line of work it would be good.
"I've done the emergency outdoor first aid course and the introduction to beginners skills in climbing, kayaking, dry ski slope skiing and some navigation.
"We were in the heavy snow storms when we were doing the first aid. The week after the snow stopped and it was icy.
"It was good fun. We were wrapped up warm. It made it more exciting. It's right next to Snowdon. We've got brilliant views of that.
"Eventually I would like to have my own business taking people out for mountain bike rides."
People who go on the courses can go onto four-month paid work placements in the outdoor pursuits sector.
The funding comes from the Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA) and is backed by European Structural Funds and the assembly government.
North West Wales Outdoor Partnership project manager Tracey Evans said: "Unfortunately research points to a disproportionately low number of locally raised and Welsh-speaking people employed in managerial and instructor positions, so this programme will widen access to these jobs."