The BMC is proud to announce the opening of the Young Volunteer of the Year Award.
The aim of this award is torecognise those young people under the age of 25 who have made a significant voluntary contribution to the BMC and its commitment to supporting participation in climbing, hill walking and mountaineering.
The first recipients of the award are Nina Stirrup and Dan Lane. Nina has been a regular supporter of BMC youth meets, and Dan has contributed to the work of the Guidebook Committee and is a National Council rep for the Cymru North Wales area.
Lynn Robinson, BMC president, says: “If the BMC is to continue to grow and strengthen, then we need to be nurturing and inspiring the next generations to get involved.”
Nina Stirrup: trad fan and Youth Meet volunteer
I’ve just finished my undergrad in Environmental Science at Sheffield and, having been there for four years, I’m pretty excited to move somewhere new – so I’m off to the Lakes for the summer working in Langdale and then have a few trips planned after that. Hopefully they won’t clash with all the youth meets. And then it’ll be time to start looking for a ‘proper’ job that’s related to my degree.
The Lakes is one of my favourite places and I’ve climbed and walked here a lot. I’m pretty lucky that my parents climb so it’s something I’ve been ‘forced’ to do since a young age. Fortunately I’ve always enjoyed climbing and walking so it’s been a perfect upbringing for me. My preference is trad climbing but I don’t mid a bit of bolt clipping and bouldering. I’m a member of both the FRCC and CC and through those I came to get involved with the BMC youth meets and have helped out on a couple of meets a year for the last four years.
When I first helped out on the youth meets I was only 18 myself, so just missed out on being able to attend them as a youth! I first volunteered as I think it’s good to get keen indoor climbers outside learning trad on some proper rock. I keep coming back as who can turn down a guaranteed weekend of climbing with a super keen partner – and the food on Saturday night is always great!
It’s nice to see the same kids coming back and progressing with their trad climbing each time. I always have a good time and the atmosphere on the crags and in the hut is great. They’re always interested in learning, so whether it’s route finding with the guidebook, placing gear, or coiling a rope, they always get very excited.
And who doesn’t enjoy getting out in the mountains climbing? Plus getting to treat these kids with a proper day out on crags such as Gimmer is quite rewarding. They’re incredibly talented and always super psyched to climb something harder! I’ve had some great days out with perfect weather on some classic routes.
I haven’t had any training so learning the best methods to teach people to climb trad was quite a challenge initially. There are many things that come naturally that you don’t think about, such as if one of the kids can’t get a piece of gear out, that no you don’t leave the quickdraw on it and keep climbing! I’ll also still manage to get in quite a tangle sometimes on a small belay if I have two kids – haven’t quite mastered that yet.
Although I can only talk about youth meets, without volunteers events like these wouldn’t be able to take place. I think volunteering can sometimes sound like quite hard work with lots of commitment, but just volunteering for a couple of weekends a year isn’t much time at all, and you get to have a good time while you’re at it.
Dan Lane: mountain man and National Council rep
I grew up in the Peak District, and was dragged around the hills from the age of four or five by my parents. I didn't particularly enjoy it at the time, but once I hit 10 or 11 I started to see what it was all about and I was hooked! From then on I was out walking or climbing in the Peak at every possible opportunity as well as trip to places further afield like Lundy, Lofoten and Spain.
It came to university time and the decision was easy to make. I went to Bangor, simply because of its proximity to Snowdonia. I wasn't too interested in how good a university it was really, I was mostly there to spend time in the mountains! (I did graduate with a decent degree in chemistry though). From the moment I graduated I've not used my degree and went straight into the outdoor industry – I'm now living the freelance life as a Mountain Leader and Rock Climbing Instructor based in Llanberis but working all over the UK, from Cornwall to the Cairngorms, as well as finding time to manage some events for RAW Adventures and be a landscape photographer!
My involvement in the BMC has stretched from route checking for guidebooks to representing North Wales on National Council and everything in between over the last 10 years! (I've also eaten lots of cake, but I'm not sure that's a benefit to the organisation or a result of my own efforts!)
Initially I got involved with the BMC via the Over The Moors guidebook. Somewhere along the way I met someone who dragged me out on a route checking day and from that moment I never looked back. I spent the next four years on the Peak District moors a few days a week climbing all sorts of grotty stuff in aid of the guidebook. That then got me along to local area meetings, so shortly after moving to Llanberis I thought I'd put my name in the hat for National Council rep. I reckoned I'd been involved for long enough that I had a good enough grasp on how the BMC worked and could have a real positive effect both locally and nationally within the BMC and the wider climbing world.
The best thing about volunteering is the people, without a doubt. I've met all sorts of wonderful people during my involvement with the BMC over the last 10 years or so. Not least Lynn Robinson. Never one to shy away from a hard day's guidebook work with nothing more than a bit of cake as recompense, she's still going strong and doing some fine work for the BMC, who knows, she might even be the new president by the time you read this – I'll certainly be voting for her, she's ace!
Everybody has a different reason for volunteering and a different skill or attribute they can bring to the table. What's more important is that everyone is welcome and to ensure that regardless of how small a contribution, it'll always be valued. If you think you want to do some good for the world of climbing, get involved!
Aside from the people, many of the Moorland Grit days were pretty special as well. So many, in fact, that they've mostly blurred into one! I know I had a particularly memorable moment on Twisted Smile on Ashop Edge as the sun set; then it was made even better by visiting the chippy in Glossop on the way home.
More recently, we had a National Council meeting down in Devon last year. The meeting was nothing ground breaking, but the scene on Hay Tor with the whole of the meeting getting some good climbing done in the baking sunshine afterwards was really nice.
On the other hand, the Organisational Review and ensuing disruption was definitely a challenge! But I'm feeling quite positive that we might finally be getting somewhere now. I've got three years left of my National Council Rep term – I'll get to the end of that and think about what's next when the time comes.
On a personal level, I'd like to get my MIA, so I intend to start working towards that from now onwards. And as for climbing trips, well, nothing specific lined up as yet, but you’ll be able to find me out in the mountains somewhere.
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