Happy New Year! Firstly.. we hope you all had a good one!
It’s been less than a week since the New Year and already we are getting very excited here about what 2016 has in store for the Kingsway Centre!
Looking back, and reflecting on 2015 it’s easy to see how the centre developed last year. Most importantly our summer season was the busiest to date, with more schools staying with us than ever before, and with the evolution of our activity offerings we saw an increase in overall enjoyment from the groups.
The residential school groups that make up the lion’s share of our work through the summer are at the heart of what we do, but last year saw us branch out into other areas of outdoor education.
Kingsway Training, the teacher training arm of the centre worked with schools up and down the North East as well as developing our relationships with some old and new Teacher Training providers. We developed a series of new workshops all of which were very well received, we were also able to hone our current offering to ensure that what we offer is unique and exciting for the schools we visit.
Last year also saw the popularity of our school day programmes increase dramatically, with schools bringing us in to provide bushcraft and survival skills on their school grounds, some for a few hours, and some for a whole week! We also started to offer these days with historical themes, chief among them was our Stone Age days, these saw us visiting a range of schools and running sessions designed to teach the children about how are ancestors used bushcraft to survive and thrive.
While our list of schools, colleges and self catering groups using us increased we also began to renovate the centre, the bulk of this happened through the Autumn and Winter. Firstly we saw the need for a new and improved drying room, we developed the old workshop into a new and more efficient drying room, this will allow wet clothes and equipment to dry much quicker! At the forefront of our renovation was always going to be the roof, for many years we had struggled to maintain the huge expanse of felt covering the South side of the centre, last year finally saw the planning permission be confirmed to replace the felt with a modern steel roof. December saw this come into fruition, over the course of a wet and cold week in December the team battled hard to replace the roof. Two skip loads of felt and three very long days saw the roof virtually completed. With the new roof installed we were finally able to install our new log burner into the dining room, ensuring a cosy and warm atmosphere is maintained through the cold winter.
As 2015 came to a close we can look forward to what will hopefully be an even more exciting year
To start with over the next few months we will have what will undoubtedly prove to be our busiest winter, with weekends booked out with self catering groups and our week days busy with schools and renovation work we are certainly going to be kept occupied.
Renovation will certainly be top of the agenda over the coming months, the new roof guarantees that any work we do in that side of the building won’t be damaged by water leaks and so its full steam ahead!
The other thing that makes 2016 exciting is that we as a centre/provider are starting to find our niche, it’s a difficult marketplace to operate in, and this is highlighted regularly by the closure of centres and providers alike. However what keeps us going and thriving is our constant adoption of new ideas while improving what we already offer. This year is no different, we intend to become a DofE Approved Activity Provider by September, this will allow us to offer expeditions and residential opportunities for young people from across the UK. It’s an important milestone and the abilities to market our offering will be a challenge we will have to face.
The other push we intend to make this year is into experience and family days, we’ve tried before and had success with the High Ropes Course, however this year we want to take it to a new level! As our understanding of marketing grows we aim to offer a series of experience days to people both local and on holiday, these experience days will offer activities such as, Gorge Walking, Rock Climbing and much more and will aim to start to put Teesdale on the map as an exciting place to visit for outdoor activities.
The final exciting changes coming to the center will be the evolution of our staff team, we will be taking on a new full time Assistant Manager, who’s role will be do develop specific aspects of the business as well as helping me with the day to day running of the centre.
And finally it’s an exciting year for Adam, the centres owner who will spend vast swathes of the year sailing around Northern Europe, determined to spend as much time on the water as possible.
All in all its going to be a bright and exciting year for us here!
We hope to see you all soon,
Rob, Adam and the Kingsway Team