Category Archives: Charity News

Five days in the life of an Outward Bound Trust Ambassador


Our Corporate Events Manager, Sam Hardy, was selected to represent Go Ape as an Outward Bound Trust Ambassador for five days. Here, he tells his tale!

An inspirational trip 

Rather than a blow by blow account from day 1 to day 5, which would be like watching my trousers dry in front of a log fire (3 hours) – we should just explain why these trips are so worthwhile, and how the OBT inspire children from all backgrounds to go on to be the best that they can be.

A few students in this particular group have not had the best start in life, and aspirations for some were pretty low. To begin with, it was difficult for most to grasp the concept of ‘leave nothing but footprints and take only memories’ i.e. to leave nothing on the hills, no litter, no waste, and no damage to the environment. This was a group of individuals, not necessarily friends either, whose phrases in the embryonic stages were – ‘that’s not mine’ or ‘I can’t be bothered’ and the all-time favourite ‘why should I?.

Never providing answers

On the initial walks and climbs the group was given the task of leading the way, and navigating a route, but they were a disparate bunch. Walking for 5 minutes and stopping for 10 minutes, strung out across the hills like confetti at a wedding from last week. We discussed this as we went, asking what the issues were, and again asking how these could be solved – never providing answers. Any poor behaviour was challenged, but not the individuals themselves. E.g. “Do you think that puddle is the best place to store your sleeping bag?” That was addressed to me…

It is safe to say I found this approach quite hard, and wanted to tie shoelaces, sacrifice food, hand out dry clothes, light fires and even carry the more forlorn. These sodden creatures with heavy burdens (and massive rucksacks) surely needed some sympathy and support? Not so…

Alone in the hills


Once they realised that after the food drop on Tuesday morning we were alone in the hills, with no Uber to call on, no phones and no hotels – they had to rely on each other for support.

On the third night after many hours of trekking in the rain, across bulging streams and boggy terrain we looked upon the Herberts. They had pitched tents, packed bags, prepared the stoves and had started cooking. I was expecting the lake to part and Moses to wander over and ask if anyone fancied a brew. Not only had they achieved the unexpected (the instructors had seen this before, but not I) they had supported each other and all without our help. These little giants are all just 13 years old – I know adults that would struggle with this task. Yes, I am Southern, and an office body…

After another outstanding ration pack of dubious content, using said spoon of great import – we embarked on a night walk. It was here at the boulder of wisdom (it is an erratic), the group discussed their progress again. This time words like “pride”, “achievement” and “teamwork” were used. Some say I shed a tear, but it was just run off from the rim of my hood.

They were starting to realise – “I can” and “we can”.

Day 4 was something I now know to be ‘type 2 fun’, (thanks Rich).

  • Type 1 – A day at a theme park – very enjoyable at the time, good memories.
  • Type 2 – An arduous journey, outside the comfort zone that is sometimes painful – but you look back in 5 months or 5 years and realise; that was fun!
  • Type 3 – An arduous journey, outside the comfort zone that is sometimes painful – but you look back and say, that was pretty fecking awful…

The troops were buoyant but pretty tired by day 4 but the rain was not relenting and the wind picking up. We were heading for Ruthwaite Lodge for the night in Grisedale valley on the side of the Helvelyn Range and some luxury – a wood stove in a brick building.

It was decided late afternoon, after the Billy goats had led the first part successfully to a waterfall crossing, that Rich and I would go ahead to the Holy Grail that was the shed of delights. This took us 2 hours to reach, across swollen rivers, over the ridge in sideways rain and guided only by the eye of Sauron across what looked like Mordor.

We made it!

We reached the Promised Land as darkness descended and the winds reached whistling pitch, to set the fire and light the stove, knowing that we had basically abandoned the Lilliputians and left them to a mauling by Mother Nature.

My estimation was that it would take a month for our clothes to dry and another 2 hours for the intrepid teenagers to get through purgatory.

With heart in mouth and socks on the dryer, there was a knock on the door an hour and a half later. Just as we were preparing to go back out and find the teenage debris, Jon was at the door requesting for room at the Inn! He was like the Pied Piper on a mission and his resilient rodents were tired but jubilant.

OBT3They filed in as if this almost impossible mission, was a mere pain in the ass to be endured before they could get at the remaining Haribo. As I choked back more rainwater from the rim of my cap, they set about changing clothes, organising bed space and cooking dinner for each other.

That evening after I had finished marvelling at the courageousness of the collective, the skill and judgement of the instructors, I realised that we are all capable of much more than we know – if we are prepared to give it a go.

Feeling proud of each other

The discussion at the table that night was open, honest, touching and at times inspirational. I think this was the moment when they truly understood the reason for the trip and the motivation behind the instructors pushing their boundaries and limits.

I think the guys got more sleep that night than the previous 3 combined, knowing what they had achieved, feeling proud of themselves and each other. Maybe for the first time in a long time…

Friday was a breeze, all be it a 40mph one, and we arrived back at Howtown safely to receive our certificates, and it has to be said, much respect from all the other instructors… On the bottom of the certificates was this caption from the Co-Founder of the OBT, Kurt Hahn;

“We are all better than we know. If only we can be brought to realise this, we may never again be prepared to settle for anything less”.     

It is the job of the team at the OBT to help us realise that we are all better than we know, and what a fantastic job they do. Much respect and many thanks to all on the trip, and all at the OBT.

Sam H

Before I begin as an Outward Bound Trust Ambassador


Our Corporate Events Manager, Sam Hardy, was selected to represent Go Ape as an Outward Bound Trust Ambassador for five days. Here, he tells his tale!

This time last year, Go Ape chose The Outward Bound Trust (OBT) as the organisation to support throughout 2015.

When one of the young students, who took part in an Outward Bound experience, recounted her experience to the staff at Go Ape, I knew I would be involved in some capacity.

Getting involved

Snow1In May this year a few of us attempted a 12 peak challenge in Snowdonia, and this helped raise money for the OBT. Not long after this we also found out that there was the potential for us monkeys to take part in the ambassador programmes that the OBT run.

This enables employees from funding organisations to be directly involved in the young people’s learning, and to see first-hand the impact of the funding their employer has provided.

My name went into the woolly hat and I was given the opportunity to join a group of children from the Walsall Academy on a 5 day trip with 4 nights wild camping!

The Academy have had a lot of success with the pupils who experience adventures with the OBT. The teacher leading this particular expedition was Jon Clarke, Ray Mears brother from another Mother, who we think, was on his 57th trek with the OBT!

Walsall City Academy – how it began

Walsall City Academy was founded in 2003 as the first City Academy in an area of multiple deprivations on the site of a failing school. It is now in the top 20% of all schools in the country and learning outside the classroom and the development of the whole person is at the core of its ethos.

To really stretch this particular group of year 9 pupils it was decided, probably by Jon, that 4 nights in the Lake District in December was the best way to develop them.

Looking at the weather forecast for this trip before departure, it was grey clouds and rain varying from one drop, to three drops, and a glance at the wind speeds suggested that hurricane Barney may have a challenger! There was also a symbol that I had not seen before – I think it was for snizzle? A cross between snow and drizzle… We definitely had some snizzle on the Wednesday.

Undeterred we all arrived safely at the rendezvous and the 9 little herberts stepped off the bus at Bowness by Lake Windermere to pack their rucksacks. I was greeted earlier at the Howtown centre by Liz and Rich our instructors, and their boss Nick who had bus duty and kit collection/drop off…

Setting off…

OBT3The centres at Howtown and Halsteads were teeming with instructors getting briefings for their week ahead. For our expedition, everyone was pitching in to make sure we got all the right kit, especially Gav in the stores who hooked me up with a lot of gear that I was to find invaluable (mainly a mug and a spoon). Most of the kit I had packed was heavy and largely unnecessary!

Once we had the right kit and packed the rucksacks, (the size of a single dwelling wheelie bin) we got the canoes ready for departure. This was to be a 1.5 hour trip up to the first campsite, but Hurricane Clodagh decided we had to go down wind, to the South, and back around the other side of the Island which was a little more sheltered. We paddled wearing head torches and glow sticks to the camp site which we found with the assistance of some nifty map reading, the position of the stars, and a GPS on Jon’s watch…

This was the point where we set up camp and the staff realised I had as much outdoor experience as a foetus. As this sunk in, they quickly adapted to having 10 people to be responsible for instead of nine.

However, as I soon discovered, this was not a trip where people were ‘looked after’, allowed to tag along, or be passengers. From this point onwards we were all expected to look after ourselves.

If you were unsure of what to do – the 4 B’s were explained, or my favourite – SNOT;

  • Self
  • Neighbour
  • Other
  • Teacher

So, if you have a dilemma, an issue, or a question – you ask yourself (more than once) and then your neighbour/buddy and then anyone else (other) in the group before finally asking the teacher.

Having paddled for over 2 hours, setting their own tents up and cooking their own food – we talked a bit about the students hopes and fears.

It was clear that most were nervous and unsure of the road ahead, but we did not get much from the group, and there was a little bit of prompting needed. Throughout the epic Trans lake experience, it was also clear that a few students were already looking forward to some luxury experience and wondering why it was all so hard going…

This is not to say that they were devoid of an adventurous spirit, or were lacking in any way, but it was in stark contrast to the experience on the last night of the journey.

To be continued… Read about Sam’s five days away.

Covering 24 miles of Suffolk’s countryside


Friday 2nd October saw Banana HQ take to the footpaths of Suffolk to walk from Bury St Edmunds to Clare – with very little training!

Maps and miles ahead of us…

We met as the mist was clearing, and luckily for us, it made way for one of the sunniest October days on record. Our M.D. Jerome took on the lead role, armed with a map and his trusty dog Timber, as his tribe followed him across some of Suffolk’s most stunning rolling countryside. A little too rolling in some places!

Regular pit stops refuelled us, rekindled our ‘love’ of walking and kept us putting one foot in front of the other. The air was filled with chitter chatter about anything from adventure to armchairs – and some fairly out of tune sing alongs! Onlookers would have been amused by the Go Ape spirit amongst us.

Blisters and babies (made from jelly!)

Charity2Those last few hills saw us reach for the plasters, have a tussle for the jelly babies and countdown to the finish line.

The pub in Clare was a welcome sight. We reflected on the day and how it had reminded us of how lucky we are to live in such a wonderful neck of the woods – and be part of a cracking team! Sometimes you need to take a step back (or 24 miles forward!) to remember what you have.

What started as a fairly substantial 19 miler somehow turned into 24 miles – almost a marathon! Well done to all those that took part – it really was a wonderful day in true Go Ape style.

Show your support

Go Ape chose the Outward Bound Trust as our Charity Partner for 2015. We’ve pledged £40,000 and have given access to our Tree Top Adventure to some of the schools that The Outward Bound Trust works closely with.

We’d love you to support us – and make a difference! Any donation for Outward Bound Trust would be gratefully received

Why not walk? 

It really was a great day and everyone benefits from heading out in the fresh air, but there was also an important reason behind it.

It’s a great way to pull the team together. Walk-a-thons are an ideal way to bond, squeeze in some serious exercise and raise funds for an important cause.

19 miles on foot – with little training!


Go Ape has chosen the Outward Bound Trust as our Charity Partner for 2015. We’ve pledged £40,000 and have given access to our Tree Top Adventure to some of the schools that The Outward Bound Trust works closely with, but now we’re doing something extra!

What are Go Ape doing?

It’s that time of the year when we escape the office, challenge ourselves and do something amazing for those not quite as lucky as us. On Friday 2nd October we take to the footpaths for a 19 mile walk from our base at Banana HQ to the beautiful town of Clare – with very little training!

How do you organise a charity day?

A lot goes into the organisation of the day. Firstly, getting everyone the information they require – the usual, where to meet and at what time. Then there’s the supplies – don’t forget to get enough water, treats and snacks. Enough to keep the tribe going!

Where do you get support from?

While it’s a great day and everyone likes to head out in the fresh air, there’s an important reason behind it.

So how do you spread the word? It’s great to ask everyone to send the fundraising link round on Facebook, Twitter – and any other social media you can lay your hands on!

We find an email or two to our suppliers works well – but they probably require a reminder!

We’d love you to support us. Any donation for Outward Bound Trust would be gratefully received

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