YEARS OF MEM­O­RIES AT DOL-Y-MOCH

Warwickshire Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE - Laura Hart­ley News Re­porter laura.hart­ley@coven­try­tele­graph.net

PLAS DOL-Y-MOCH is a place many peo­ple in Coven­try will re­mem­ber and hold fond mem­o­ries of.

Most schools in Coven­try have gone to North Wales for the Dol-y-Moch ex­pe­ri­ence, and taken away a life­time of mem­o­ries, in the last 50 years.

The cen­tre is not just a place for a hol­i­day for the chil­dren, but a place they learn to work to­gether, to get them ready for their big step to se­condary school and also for later in life.

But, for the cen­tre to carry on pro­vid­ing the chil­dren of Coven­try with the life skills they need to learn, they need to raise a quar­ter of a mil­lion pounds.

For the 50 years Dol-yMoch has been run­ning they have wel­comed over 100,000 chil­dren in to the fa­mous house.

Cather­ine Bourke, or Faf as she is known at Dol-y-Moch, has been in­volved with the ed­u­ca­tion cen­tre since the 1970’s when she first vis­ited as a teenager.

She said: “I first came in the 1970s when I was 14 with my school Bishop Ul­lathorne on a ten day course.

“Since then I have been hooked on out­door ad­ven­ture and even went back six months af­ter my first visit on an ad­vanced course.

“I’ve loved it ever since and when I had free week­ends I would come and vol­un­teer and soon enough I got a part time job and have now been full time for around ten years.

“The cen­tre is so im­por­tant to chil­dren in de­vel­op­ing their life skills. They can learn to work as a team and un­der­stand that at one point in their lives they will have re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. But we make it fun for them - we have the moun­tain ad­ven­tures, kayak­ing and rock climb­ing to in­cor­po­rate school stud­ies such a Per­sonal So­cial and Health Ed­u­ca­tion and his­tory but make it fun for them too.

“That is what makes Plas Dol-y-Moch so spe­cial.”

Af­ter 50 years the cen­tre is in need of a re­fit and to do this they need £750,000 - money they can­not raise on their own.

For­tu­nately they have a £500,000 grant from Coven­try City Coun­cil mean­ing they have to raise £250,000.

When the out­door ed­u­ca­tion cen­tre first opened they could only house 30 chil­dren.

That has now dou­bled but with an in­creas­ing pop­u­lar­ity they need to change around the fa­cil­i­ties to keep up with the de­mand.

Not much has changed over the last half a cen­tury but as chil­dren and staff alike take the fa­mil­iar drive up to the house a no­tice­able change in the grounds be­comes ap­par­ent.

They have up­graded the sta­ble block to en­able schools with spe­cial needs pupils to stay there com­fort­ably.

All of the rooms have en suites bath­rooms and are a sign of what a bright fu­ture Dol-y-Moch has as they start their 50th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions.

Alis­tair Cook, head of the cen­tre, says there are great plans for the fu­ture.

He said: “We orig­i­nally set a dead­line of 2020, that by then we wanted to com­fort­ably house 60 chil­dren at one time.

“At the mo­ment, with the cur­rent dining room, if we are at full ca­pac­ity that isn’t pos­si­ble.

“The kitchen staff have to put up ta­bles in the com­mon room for some kids to eat, and that goes against our ethos of every­one eat­ing and sit­ting to­gether at din­ner time.

“We know we have work to do on the show­ers too. They are a lit­tle out­dated, so all of this money that is raised, will help pro­vide newer fa­cil­i­ties.

“Hope­fully this will then al­low us to in­vite more than 100,000 Coven­try chil­dren over the next 50 years.”

Once the money work will start to con­vert the old dining room and kitchen into a brand new shower block and com­mon room.

There will be a new dining room erected in a sep­a­rate build­ing for more kids to sit to­gether and eat at the same time, but will keep the tra­di­tional feel of Dol-y-Moch that so many peo­ple love and re­mem­ber.

Cross­ing water on ropes and kayak­ing at Doly-y-Moch. Above, the kit room and Berth Y Gest beach

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