Celebrating 38 years at The Trust - Tony Shepherd

Tony Shepherd 38 YearsTony Shepherd has worked for The Outward Bound Trust for the last 38 years, having started as an instructor at our Eskdale centre, before moving around The Trust and working his way up to become the Head of Centre at Loch Eil.

"On January 5th 2017, I will begin my new life. I won't use the word 'retire' as I am planning to do so much: after a lifetime of passion for the outdoors, I certainly won't be sitting around doing nothing. If you love activities like mountaineering, canoeing, paragliding and just being outdoors in all weathers, you don't suddenly stop: it's in your blood. But that day I will hang up my Outward Bound climbing boots at the Loch Eil Centre and say goodbye to my friends and colleagues after nearly 40 years working at The Trust.

"It seems incredible to think that my life with The Trust has spanned five decades, from the day I walked through the doors at Eskdale as a temporary instructor to my years as Head of Centre at Loch Eil. In that time I have seen many changes and have been privileged to work with so many inspirational young people and Trust staff.

"I’ve seen The Trust expand its operations, become more professional as a business, and develop new ways of helping young people. We have built partnerships with local authorities, companies and other organisations and have looked at fresh ways to offer programmes that will deliver the skills young people need in the 21st century. Our generous donors have been key in helping us provide the financial assistance that enables young people from less advantaged backgrounds to benefit from our courses. 

At Outward Bound, we give young people the chance to see, hear, feel and experience nature in a way they may never have done.

"I’ve seen the start of improvements at Loch Eil, which will mean more capacity and a better standard of accommodation. Our Skills for Life programme is an initiative I am proud to have been centrally involved in developing. This challenging 19-day course emerged after consulting with young people, universities, and potential employers and really listening to which skills they need to learn to stand out from the crowd.

"When I think about young people’s lives now compared with when I was first starting out, I see massive changes. The range of opportunities for young people is much bigger and the rate of change has been extraordinary. But alongside this, there are greater challenges to be faced and a need to compete in a tough climate. Technology has led to different forms of interaction that can be used positively, if you are creative. Young people are used to gaining immediate satisfaction and are less familiar with waiting for a longer-term benefit so at Outward Bound, we give young people the chance to see, hear, feel and experience nature in a way they may never have done. It is not always a quick fix, but it’s a lasting one. But just in case you think we are dinosaurs, we don’t eschew technology, we embrace it and use it on our courses to help us understand the natural world. 

We live in a world where personal skills are crucial but those skills make most sense in a context where collaboration reaps benefits for all.

"The most important thing I will take with me into my new phase of life, is the positive impact I have seen The Trust making on the community. Going on a course is exciting and challenging for individuals of course, but the way resilience, confidence and leadership skills are embedded, means that young people take back into their communities all that they have gained. We live in a world where personal skills are crucial but those skills make most sense in a context where collaboration reaps benefits for all. The impact on the whole community is a lasting one and I applaud that."

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