Instructor Anne Lloyd
My Career and Reminisces in
I have been associated with Outdoor Education in Ayrshire for some 45 odd years (which is hard to believe!)
The start of my life long association with Arran Outdoor Eduacation was in the late 1970s. I was working as a temporary instructor at Ardentinny (Strathclyde’s purpose -built Centre) and, one day, whilst doing boat maintenance in the workshop, David Lilley (Ardentinny’s Principal) asked me if I would like to go over to Arran and help out at North High Corrie Croft. The new term was starting, and the two instructors (Sue Redshaw and Bruce Williamson) had left that summer of 1978. I didn't hesitate.
Life at Corrie Croft couldn’t have been more different from Ardentinny, but I loved it. It was rough and ready, with groups of school pupils helping out with all aspects of daily life, as well as enjoying all the outdoor activities. These jobs included cooking, cleaning and anything required to keep the building standing.
When picking up provisions we would alternate month about between Mrs Barclay’s shop and the Post Office in the village. Butcher meat came from George Watson and then everything had to be hauled in 3 ancient rucksacks, 1/4 mile up the very steep hill! Many of the groups, especially the boys, loved making cakes but often had to go back down to the village as a vital ingredient had been forgotten!
Each group was split into duty groups. In the winter, each duty group would spend one day in the centre cleaning and doing the chores. The rest of the week they were out doing outdoor activities whatever the weather.
In the summer season everyone went out every day and the duty group would do their chores before or after the day’s activities.
I remember lots of time spent on the hills in all seasons and summers kayaking around the coast. In the winter sometimes even the Land Rover was challenged getting up to the Croft and everyone would have to walk, sometimes lugging huge suitcases, but everyone took a turn sharing the load. Good teamwork was the essence of life at Corrie Croft.
After much soul searching, (it was my ideal job after all,) I took the decision to go travelling, to continue my outdoor work and adventures overseas.
Five years later I returned to Scotland and managed to secure a job at another Strathclyde Region Outdoor Centre, Garelochhead. I spent a very enjoyable nine years there before the call to Arran brought me back, to Arran Outdoor Education Resource, which Nigel Marshall had set up after the closure of Corrie Croft. Nigel and I had worked together at Corrie Croft for my initial 6 months and my last 6 months.
Work at A.O.E.R. was challenging and interesting in many ways. Corrie Croft catered for secondary pupils but, because of difficulties getting high school pupils out of school, A.O.E.R. turned to the North Ayrshire Primary Schools and focused on working with P6 and P7 classes.
Logistics were a daily hurdle as the resource was spread over a number of sites between Whiting Bay and Lamlash. Whiting Bay Youth Hostel provided the residential accommodation, but all the equipment was based in three other locations - the council offices in Lamlash, the notorious ‘Mother Goose’ store in Whiting Bay and the strangely named ‘Letter’ in Lamlash. This proved testing as the staff had to be super organised, and delivering water sports had its own challenges - Lamlash pier being one of them!
At first, the groups would have exclusive use of the Youth Hostel in the winter and would share with members of the public in the summer months. We went through many hostel wardens with varying degrees of harmony! The public were always very complimentary about our groups and would often entertain the pupils with stories and music from where they came from, which was inspiring to the children and adults alike. Eventually A.O.E.R. took over exclusive use of the Youth Hostel, as issues of safeguarding, health and safety procedures rose in public consciousness.
Always in our future plans and pipe dreams, was the ‘Shangri-la’ of having our own premises, a purpose- built Outdoor Centre. After years of cajoling, pleading our cause, hard work, two public enquiries, Arran Outdoor Education Centre rose like a phoenix. I couldn’t quite believe it, after years of chasing about all over the place, everything would once more be under the one roof. The last 6 years of my career were spent there.
The size of the centre made it necessary to employ more people and my job morphed into managing staff. However, I still managed to fit in sessions with groups teaching outdoor education. It’s always been important for me to share my love of the outdoors, to pass on the joy of being out in the natural environment and to help others experience all the benefits that come with time spent being active in nature.
As times change and fewer people are connected to the natural environment on a regular basis, educating in the outdoors has never been more important. Maybe it isn’t for everyone, but very few had a negative thing to say about their experience of the provision of outdoor education in Ayrshire. The experience has touched and benefited young people and adults alike in so many ways. One head teacher told me the best experience of her whole career was the night she spent with her pupils up at Cloudbase, the centre’s wooden camp above Whiting Bay.
Traditionally outdoor instructors have been" doers", actively delivering amazing outdoor experiences but not given to writing reports, campaigning, and lobbying to justify their existence. Now, more than ever, we have to fight to ensure that the true value of outdoor education is understood. Going forward, we need to communicate the life enhancing, and frequently life changing, benefits that come from outdoor education experiences.
The centre at Clauchlands should be a statutory school, like all the others in North Ayrshire - just an outdoor version.
“Adventurous experiences out-of-doors are perceived to kindle the enthusiasm of the young, to develop their concern for others, for their community and for the environment. Such experiences provide the means of self-discovery, self-expression and enjoyment which are at once both stimulating and fulfilling.
“It thus emerges that, for young people and adults alike, outdoor adventure is perceived as a vehicle for building values and ideals, for developing creativity and enterprise, for enhancing a sense of citizenship, and for widening physical and spiritual horizons.”
Lord Hunt of Llanfair Waterdine, KC, CBE, DSO