Liam McCabe leads the tribe at our beautiful Buxton site in the heart of the Peak District. While he’s been in the activity industry for many years, here Liam tells us why his job at Go Ape is like no other, and why he’ll be eternally grateful to his fellow Go Ape buddy James Winter for recommending the company to him in the first place…
What made you join the Go Ape family in the first place?
I used to work at a place called PGL – a residential holiday camp for kids, based on adventurous experiences outside. Whilst I loved this aspect of the job, it was very much a 24/7 role. Because I lived on site, I was working in the evenings and was on-call throughout the night (meaning I’d get a knock on the door at 2am from a child having a nose bleed!).
A few of my mates worked at Go Ape and were always raving about how good it was and how the company looked after you really well. I felt I had reached the furthest I could go with PGL and had been there for most of my twenties, so when my good friend James Winter (then, manager of the Bedgebury site) told me he had a deputy job going, I jumped at the chance – it was time to try something new and settle down with my (now) wife. It was perfect timing really, as I was looking for something that was still based on adventurous experiences, but somewhere I could finish at the end of each day, shut the doors and switch off.
Did you experience Go Ape for yourself before taking the job?
I hadn’t, but once I knew I had an interview I had a look around one of the sites. I had done similar activities before – I used to be a paddler and work on other ropes sites – so knew I would love it.
What do you like about working for Go Ape?
It is extremely rewarding when you see customers laughing and having a good time. I also love the job because it is very different to when I was working purely with kids. When adults are involved, you hand over some of the responsibility to them, whereas with children you are very conscious that you are always the responsible one. With Go Ape, you let people have a bit more autonomy on the course – giving them the freedom to explore their own fears and learn the ropes (pardon the pun!) for themselves. At the same time, though, they know that we’re always on hand should they need us, but they don’t feel like they are being watched and judged the whole time. This puts the emphasis back on them so that they get more out of it, and there’s something satisfying about watching someone conquer their fears.
What makes your site unique?
Buxton is one of the highest of the Go Ape courses – it’s a very hilly site so there are plenty of long crossings and high platforms, and that has got to be our USP. From high up in the trees, I also think we have some of the best views out of all the Go Ape sites: you can see over Buxton itself, looking down over the town, the Peak District and over the moors. It’s a very picturesque course, and the views never cease to stop me in my tracks.
Finally, tell us a story that will put a smile on our faces…
I can certainly think of an embarrassing story…
Jodie Marsh once visited Go Ape Bedgebury when I worked there. At the end of the activity, we give out certificates – and on this occasion I was writing them in front of the customers. I was moving around the group asking names and writing the name in my best handwriting on the certificate. As I got to Jodie I said: “I know your name, believe it or not!” and wrote it out for her. When I got to the gent next to her, he said: “I bet you know my name then too?” I replied: “Are you her brother?“, to which he responded: “No I’m her boyfriend“. He looked a bit disappointed when I asked for his name. For some reason, I must have given the impression of being up-to-speed with celeb love stories!