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Dwynwen Evans

​Name : Dwynwen Evans

Age : 25

Education : Ysgol Uwchradd Dyffryn Teifi, BA Outdoor Education – University of Trinity St.Davids 

Job : Outdoor Activities Instructor

Previous Employment : Urdd Gobaith Cymru, Cardigan Bay Watersports,  St David's College, Conway Centre

Who would’ve thought that writing an article about my experiences in the outdoors would be so hard?! Looking back over the past 8 years has been a positive experience as I’ve been able to see how much I’ve achieved in such a short space of time. Eight years isn’t a long time at all but the years between turning 17 and 25 years old turn out to be an important part of your individual development.

As a quiet girl from Talgarreg (near Aberaeron) I was never one to participate in physical activity. I used to make all sorts of excuses possible to get out my school P.E lessons and if I ever did take part I would cause havoc for my teacher, Mrs.Wilson. I’ve never been a particularly confident person and always worried how others perceived me. But fast forward 8 years and I’m a completely different person with high aspirations for the future.

At the age of 17, I started to volunteer for the local Urdd group, and I soon realised that I had a skill in working and communicating with children and young people. It was easy! Shortly after, I started working in Llangrannog Urdd Centre as a seasonal worker. When I wasn’t at school, I was working, but it wasn’t your standard 9-5 job. This job was different. It didn’t feel like work. It was tiring, physical and mentally, but it was worth it.

By the time I reached my second year in Sixth Form at school, it was time to start writing my UCAS application letter to apply for a place at university. In my eyes, I had already hit the jackpot in the job I was doing so it didn’t seem much of a point but I had to think about my future. I applied to study Primary Education at five universities and got accepted at the University of Trinity St. David in Carmarthen. But after some thought, I made the tough decision to postpone university but believed it was the best thing to do personally at the time.

In the year following secondary school, I organised a charity walk to raise money for the cardiovascular ward in Bronglais Hospital, Aberystwyth after my grandfather spent three weeks in their capable and welcoming hands. The walk took us 32 miles along the Ceredigion Coastal Path and took 14 hours to complete along with 10 of my friends and family. This was my first non-academic achievement and it felt amazing! To be able to raise money for a good cause whilst enjoying was a bonus. I didn’t realise it at the time, but it turned out to be the beginning of the ‘bug’. Proving several family members and friends wrong as they doubted my ability to finish the walk boosted my self-confidence and I started to expect more and more from myself.

I decided to transfer my course from Primary Education to an Outdoor Education course at the same university with inspiration from several people, mainly from my colleagues in Llangrannog. This was the start of my career! After applying for a few trainee programmes in North Wales whilst on my gap year and being turned away due to my lack of experience, I didn’t really see much of future for me outside of Llangrannog. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing as I enjoyed working there so much but to progress within the Urdd, I saw the need to to gain further experience.

My three years in Trinity St. David, learning from world known lectures was an amazing foundation for my career in the outdoors. I learnt about psychology, coaching and theories I still use in my work today. After a month on the course, I realised that I was in a slightly different boat to the other students, with them donning heaps of experience and me, near nothing (apart from the 32 mile charity walk and 3 years of working in Llangrannog). I mentioned to one of the lecturers, Bill Beynon, about my worries and his reply was “you don’t realise your own potential, for the last month there have been 24 leaders in one room but you’re the one they all listen to.”

After graduating, I was offered a job in the Sailing Club in New Quay, West Wales and so after five years I finished in Llangrannog to further my experience in the outdoor sector. This was a hard decision as I couldn’t sail but I took the job on the basis that the manager would teach me whilst I worked. It was another seasonal job which lasted over the summer, similar to many jobs in the sector, but as my contract came to an end I received funding from Reardon Smith Nautical Trust in South Wales for me to move up north to complete a 16 week course in Plas Menai, Caernarfon. Sixteen weeks to learn how to paddle, windsurf and sail. It was an intense course. BUT, it was enough time for me to fall in love with North Wales! The coaching and support I received in Plas Menai was second to none and I’m still in contact with friends I made there.

Through doing my training at Plas Menai I got offered a job at St. David’s College, a private school near Llandudno for six months. The way the school invited people in as their extended family will always be close to my heart. I got experience through assisting on excursions to Sweden and Italy and working with students who had a range of learning difficulties and mental health issues. I still visit the school and students on a regular basis as I’m one of the family now! Whilst working at the school I completed my first Mountain Training assessment.

Everybody knows everybody in the outdoors, and through a colleague at St. David’s College I managed to become a trainee (something I was turned down for a few years ago!) at the Conway Centre in Llanfair Pwll. It’s a two year course which comes to an end in the summer of 2017. It’s whilst working at the Conway Centre that I have worked towards and achieved my D1 mini bus licence, Summer Mountain Leader, Single Pitch Award, UKCC Level 2 in Coaching Paddle Sports and Senior Dinghy Instructor. Over the past two years my self-confidence and increased immensely thanks to the support and spirit the Conway Centre has offered.

I still don’t know where I’ll be in a years’ time but there is one thing that will always be there and that is the lessons and experiences I have had over the last 8 years. With a bit of support and a push in the right direction, anyone is capable of anything! It’s been a long process but the experiences I have mentioned are just a snippet of my career so far. I have met so many inspirational people, made lifelong friends and been able to experience many unique things. I’ve had good and bad days just like anyone else, along with injuries, have been lucky and unlucky but all the jobs I have done so far since Llangrannog have come from growing connections.

Through looking back at a girl who started working at Llangrannog Urdd Centre, worrying about what others thought of her, a girl who cried applying for university in case she didn’t get on the course, the girl who move to North Wales in sight of a career after her parents hoped she would become a teacher or accountant, a girl who did her ML and SPA training whilst at university as she was determined to be good enough to pass her assessments, I feel proud of my achievements that have made me who I am today. I’m proud of the connections I’ve made and the inspiration they have given me. But most of all, I’m proud to be a part in the outdoor sector and I’d like to help others in the same way people have given me a career. I am an outdoor instructor and I’m trying to encourage others to try something different, this isn’t a job for me, it’s a way of life.

(I’m still in love with North Wales and all it has to offer and not intending on moving back to West Wales anytime soon. Three years down the line and I’m slowly getting used to the North Walian accent, finally!)