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From a young age, Jack Ramsden,19,  knew his future didn’t involve sitting behind a desk. So after learning that Buxton & Leek College’s unique location and hands-on learning approach would give him the experience and opportunities he needed for a career outdoors- he completed a Level 3 Diploma in Outdoor Sports.

Since gaining his qualification Jack has never looked back and is now working as an Outdoor Instructor at Newlands Adventure Centre as well as a Climbing Instructor at Keswick Climbing Wall in the Lake District- which have since won the Best Recreational and Outdoor Pursuits Business of the Year at the Rural Business Awards National Final in February.

We caught up with Jack to find out about his experience at college and what life after BLC has been like so far…

Why did you choose to Study Outdoor Sport at Buxton & Leek College?

I’ve known since I was 10 that [working outdoors] is what I wanted to do. When I went on my Year-6 residential trip to Cornwall I absolutely loved every activity I did and thought my activity leader for the week was the coolest person ever. I remember thinking -I want to be him when I’m older!

All through secondary school I knew I wanted to become an instructor and as it came nearer to the time, I decided Buxton would be the perfect place to study at. The Dome looked like a pretty cool place and Buxton was the perfect location! Plus I just didn’t fancy doing A-Levels for stuff I wasn’t really that interested in!

What was your experience like at BLC?

Really good, I learned lots over my 2 years studying Outdoor Sport at BLC. I was given plenty of opportunities to develop my practical skills as most weeks we’d get out on the water or go to the crag at least once!

I [also] benefited from the 2 weeks of work experience that we did each year. In 1st year I spent it at The Climbing Works in Sheffield- seeing the day to day running of it, doing some lessons, coaching, route setting and reception work. In 2nd year I spent 2 weeks on TNR Coaching at a small outdoor centre near Llangollen in Wales. Here I experienced lots of sessions being ran- from axe throwing, rifles, archery, canoe and kayak trips to gorge walking sessions.

Both were great for me because […] this gave me an insight to what it really is and confirmed my decision for wanting to work in this industry.

Allan was a great tutor- supportive, knowledgeable and good fun. It makes a massive difference when you look forward to going into college. We had a year’s plan of all the activities we’d be doing and assignments given with each topic we did- but we would have had a few weeks lessons about the subject beforehand. I thought Allan organised the course well and made sure everyone got the opportunity to have a go at everything- and definitely made it good fun.

The course helped me gain the relevant skills needed to start a job right away after college in this industry. I’d already had 2 years of doing all the activities and gained lots of additional qualifications such as First Aid, CWI, Lowland Leader, Paddlesport Instructor, Archery GB, Level 2 Powerboat and 3* Canoe. This then made me more employable than other 18-year-olds fresh out of college looking for a job. Working hard in college has got me to where I am now.

What advice would you give any students looking to get into your industry?

Definitely join a more vocational hands on college course- such as BLC- where it isn’t all classroom-based work. It’s about having the experience of all the activities and then classroom knowledge goes hand in hand. Also, make the most of every opportunity on the course! I went skiing, did 5 expeditions, and gained lots of qualifications!”

Learn more about the Outdoor Sports courses we offer at Buxton & Leek College by visiting: