It's hard to put a label on the newly appointed chair of BMC Cymru, Kate Worthington. But as she runs her own outdoors company and is actively involved in mountain-related clean-up initiatives, such as the Real Three Peaks Challenge, there's no question that her interests and values are entrenched in the outdoors. Read on to find out more about her plans for Wales.
What’s involved in your new role as chair of BMC Cymru?
I am here to carry on the input and work of previous chairs of BMC Cymru – to help facilitate positive links between BMC members, BMC volunteers, Local Areas and respective ‘area chairs’ (we have three distinct areas in BMC Cymru: North, Mid and South). I can help drive communication between members, volunteers, Local Areas, National Council and other appropriate organisations and authorities – whether this is in between Local Area meets or within the meeting itself.
I need to be understanding and aware of members’ interests and opinions about a range of appropriate issues, to be reflected in Local Area meets and within newsletter or social media communications, which are well looked after by BMC Cymru’s current Secretary, Calum Muskett. As and when necessary, it may be my job to help steer interest and discussion on certain issues, especially when they present a particular impact (positively or negatively) on members across BMC Cymru’s geographical area.
I am responsible for making sure Local Area meetings run in a regular and timely fashion and I hope to make sure the attendance at meetings, across the three geographical areas, remains constant (and improves) and that meetings feel productive and useful for members to ensure their continued attendance. All of this entails regular contact with other BMC staff, volunteers, members and potential members.
What motivated you to take up the post?
I am interested in keeping up to date with current happenings and issues in Wales that affect a community of people who enjoy using the outdoors recreationally. I believe being a member of the BMC can help one to stay in touch with events and information to help individuals make informed decisions about accessing the outdoors. Taking on the responsibility of Chair for the area will ensure that I continue to improve my own engagement, on a personal and professional level, which can only be of positive benefit to me as I regularly work, rest and play in North Wales, for example.
I enjoy the process of engaging with people, to learn more about them and the world around us and, as much as I feel a little daunted at times by the mass of information there is out there to taken on board about subjects, it can only be a positive choice to take on a new challenge for 2016. There are many, many interesting and inspiring people to communicate and connect with within this role. That alone is inspiring and educational.
WATCH: Rob Johnson's Women In Mountain Adventure film competition entry on Kate Worthington at BMC TV
What are the big issues that the BMC faces in Wales?
Retention of and increasing current membership amongst people living in Wales, rather than members who live in other areas of Britain and visit Wales for recreation. Of course, figures are proportional to the population living in certain areas … but, for example, there’s a whole generation of young people living and working in Wales that could be better engaged with their natural environment through better access and education.
The BMC needs to continue to acknowledge and get involved with issues that are directly affected by decisions made by the Welsh government, including the recent consultation on ‘improving’ access legislation for responsible recreation in the outdoors. Decisions made surrounding these issues will directly affect those living and working in Wales, as well as visitors alike. The BMC has started this process with the launch of its ‘Open Wales’ campaign, back in 2014. It seems we could have a long journey to make on this one.
So what will be your approach to tackling these issues?
Part of my agenda will be to stay abreast of any resulting queries and developments and gauge members’ opinions on desired outcomes. Where there’s the opportunity to influence decision making and press upon governments and ministers to listen to members, I hope I can help by supporting communication processes within the BMC, between members, BMC staff, National Council and the Executive Committee itself.
How would you describe yourself: climber, scrambler, hill walker, or just an all-round outdoors girl?
Mountain walker turned winter mountaineer turned scrambler and mountain runner! I would describe myself as someone who has developed a deep love of mountainous landscapes through my hill and mountain walking as a child – from the age of four onwards, hitting most of the summits in the Lake District with my family, for example, as well as North Wales and Scotland during my school holidays. What an upbringing for a girl living in the suburbs of London! Now I mostly run into the hills when I can and I really enjoy being out in the mountains in winter conditions. I NEED to get out there today, as I write this, as there’s snow in North Wales for once!
How long have you been based in North Wales and what do you love about the region?
I have lived here since May 2010 with my husband Ross and daughter, Libby, who’s now six. I love the region for its simple rugged beauty, its varied landscapes and environments in a small area – including heathery summits, dark crags, dramatic coastlines and accessibility for young people and adventures to be had on your doorstep. I am lucky to have found a spot to live where I can spy some of my favourite peaks from the back garden … my eye strays up to them every day. Even if I’m not getting ‘up there’, I am ‘up there’ in spirit.
What’s your favourite Snowdonian day out?
Running across the Carneddau or Moelwynion, or walking a classic horseshoe with some fine scrambling involved (the Snowdon Horseshoe is an obvious one, but I also really love the Nantlle Ridge for airy quietness). If it can involve some good coffee and cake along the way then I’m made up!
Where else in the world has your love of the mountains taken you?
The French Alps, Nepal, Peru, Borneo, Patagonia, Tanzania.
The most epic adventure you’ve ever been on?
Err … becoming a mum? Bar that, a honeymoon trip to Chilean Patagonia to sea kayak, drive, trek and winter mountaineer our way to the summit of Cerro San Lorenzo. Winds beat us back from the summit on a daily basis but I learnt a lot about expedition planning, preparation, patience, camping on glaciers, cooking pizza on stoves and how not to throw my snowshoes down a crevasse when utterly pissed off with wading through deep snow!
You run your own outdoors business, RAW Adventures. What does that involve?
Running our own business, as a husband and wife team, involves most of our energy and time on a daily basis! We work delivering mountain activities: guided days for individuals and small groups, skills training and courses, safety management for larger events and facilitating Duke of Edinburgh expeditions for young people.
Follow Kate's Twitter profile below.
Tell us a bit more about your involvement in the Real Three Peaks Challenge event.
Since 2013, Ross and I have supported the R3P’s founder, Rich Pyne, in organising industry ‘clean up’ days on Snowdon as part of this event that covers the popular peaks of Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon. We have worked to promote the event’s aims and ethos amongst those working in the outdoors industry who find themselves working on Snowdon, for example.
We see our involvement in this event as a way of giving something back to an environment that we find ourselves in a lot for work (and play), and therefore we want to help conserve and look after a special place – and make sure that others we work with, or accompany on the mountain when working, understand how they can also support the objective of making a positive impact in an environment that can be put under a lot of pressure at times. It’s been great to receive positive support from the BMC in this process.
You were also involved in the BMC Women’s Think Tank event in November – what exciting plans came out of this that we can expect to hear more about this year?
The start of 2016 is a very exciting time for the BMC, with a commitment to operationally, conceptually and practically addressing a range of issues pertinent to the organisation’s development and public reception. One of these commitments is to help support and improve the journey of women through their interest in and active involvement with a range of outdoor activities.
The Women’s Think Tank is currently working on a ‘mission statement’ to support this process and focus its strategic journey. This will involve continued, and improved, communication about opportunities for all ages and across relevant activities the BMC support and engage with. The BMC will ensure there are more women being represented at strategic levels within its own structure as well as through its membership. And this will hope to inspire a new (and older!) generation of women to interact with the BMC and their chosen recreational activities. It’s no coincidence that the BMC recently announced the addition of Gwen Moffat and Angela Soper to its list of honorary members!
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