Former staff and ex-pupils of Colne Valley High School have triumphed in their campaign to save the much-loved Peter Brook Centre in Snowdonia.
The school in Linthwaite had been planning to sell the outdoor adventure centre, which it claimed was both redundant and surplus to requirements.
It said renovation costs were in the region of £20,000 and selling the building would provide funds that could be ploughed back into school.
But following a series of meetings mediated by Colne Valley MP Thelma Walker ownership of the stone-built cottage and the land it sits on has been placed under the control of new trustees who are officers of the Friends of the Peter Brook Centre.
They now face the challenge of refurbishing the centre, which is situated close to the hamlet of Cefn-brith near Cerrigydrudiron in North Wales and is 144 miles from the school.
Among those who campaigned to save the 15-bed centre is former English teacher Trevor Woolley, who said negotiations with the Charity Commission meant the building “will primarily be for the use of the children of the Colne Valley”.
However he said it also represented a great opportunity for other organisations, such as scout groups and students completing the Duke of Edinburgh’s award scheme, to enjoy the great outdoors.
“The area is known in Welsh as Pant-yr-Arian or ‘Field of Sheep’, which is very apt. It is quite remote. The centre has been in school ownership for 40 years and is an incredible resource.
“Of course it needs some renovation. It had a rustic charm but it was never comfortable. We hope to improve the general comfort.”
And he stressed that introducing students to the Welsh wilds was as relevant now as it was in the 1970s when the cottage, which is named after a teacher who died in the 1970s whilst climbing in the Alps, was bought. A study centre extension, named after teacher Ian Roberts who died climbing in the Dolomites, was added in 1983.
Volunteer/supporter Mr Woolley, 68, a former English teacher who worked at Colne Valley High from 1972 to 2008, added: “Getting kids out is a massive benefit to education and socialisation. The kids who go remember it and they learn more. They also learn that teachers have not got three heads - that they have a sense of humour and are not distant figures.”
Fundraising has already begun with ex-pupils and former staff donating cash and volunteering time and labour.
Thelma Walker offered her congratulations to the new team running the centre, adding; “I am delighted with the outcome of our meetings and know that the Peter Brook Centre will be for the future benefit of many children and young people across the Colne Valley.”
To assist in the refurbishment of the Peter Brook Centre contact Paul Webley, secretary for Friends of the Peter Brook Centre, on 01484 845219 or firstname.lastname@example.org