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Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Busy time out on the water!

When the school holidays started, activity certainly cranked up! The usual diet of BCU Star Awards were supplemented by some unusual family days on the water. Firstly congratulations to Greg and Patrick on passing their three star award. Not only did they have a rewarding day at Llangollen, but I think they may also have joined the darkside - short boats, steep waves and fast moves.

One of the family days had Ray and his family join us to celebrate his 60th birthday. This saw us taking out a mixed fleet of open canoes, kayaks with much laughter as we guided the group of 9 around Ironbridge. Such a large group of novices was a new experience for us and I'm glad we were able to make Ray's day such a success.

Another first was taking Jamie, Jed, Zak and their parents down Jackfield. Nothing new there, except I think the 8 year may now hold the record for the youngest person to paddle down Jackfield under his own steam. We've certainly never taken such a young paddler down the rapid and I don't know of any other 8 year olds who've paddled a kayak on their own down there. Please let me know if you know otherwise! From a safety point, paddling young children down simple white water works if there are enough competent staff to guide them and the child feels safe and confident. All three were in place for our trip.

This summer has also seen us take the decision not to renew our AALA Licence. This is because AALS will be wound up next year as part of government savings. To renew I would still have to pay for a full 3 year licence with no refund for the time after abolition.

"There is a fee of £715 to be paid when you submit your application – unless the fee is sent with your application, it will not be processed. You should note that the licence fee covers some of the costs of processing your application, carrying out the inspection and preparing the report that must take place before a licence is issued. It is the stated intent of Her Majesty’s Government that the adventure activities licensing regime will end at some point, and it is anticipated that licensing will remain at least until autumn 2012. You should be aware that in line with HM Treasury rules, there will be no refund of any fees paid in respect of any unexpired duration of your licence at the time the regime ends You are reminded that you must have a valid licence at any time you are providing in scope activities – it is an offence to provide activities without one ."

The only difference not having a licence will make is that under 18s will have to be  accompanied by a responsible adult - something we have always encouraged and a situation that happens for the majority of sessions as parents usually want to paddle with their children. The lack of licence will not affect any aspect of our work as we already adopt safety standards from the BCU and the local educations authorities with whom we have close contact. Many of the standards we work to are in excess of those laid down by AALA and our staff are far more qualified and experienced than many of the centres and companies operating locally. To reiterate this point I’m going to be adding staff profiles and some detail about us to the website. I hope this will showcase the high standards we work to and help make the point that some of the cheaper activity providers do not always offer the same high standards of service.

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