"Plas y Brenin is the pinnacle place to be, money isn’t motivating, and the outdoors has healing qualities." So says Jacob Marriner.
Jacob joined the team at Plas y Brenin as a Centre Assistant in the Summer of 2020. He’s currently training to lead the Epic Adventure Activity Days, and support customer learning and safety, when they start to visit the centre again later this year (hopefully!).
Plain talking and full of fun, Jacob loves having freedom to adventure in the great outdoors. He’s also like the Pied Piper when it comes to leading young people on adventures.
Thanks Jacob for sparing us some time to chat informally.
Are you a local lad?
I’m from Blackburn, where there’s no mountains, however Alfred Wainwright was from there, so that’s something. I also went to school there.
What does the role of a Centre Assistant entail?
The three main components of the role are instructing groups, such as school groups and Epic Adventure Activity Days, assisting other instructors at the centre whilst they teach skills, run qualification courses and/or conduct assessments, and the team will be welcoming visitors, and supporting customer needs, just as soon as people are allowed back.
What made you apply for the role of Centre Assistant?
It’s Plas Y Brenin, I’d be mad not to.
"This is the pinnacle place to be for outdoor, adventure lovers and activity specialists. It’s a centre of excellence, and over many years has built up a phenomenal reputation."
I recently completed an Outdoor Leadership Degree, at the University of Central Lancashire, and spent 5 weeks of each academic year at Plas y Brenin working on my skills, safety in practice, improving my technique, improving my capabilities, and learning how to be an effective coach and leader.
I think about 80 people apply each year, so I feel lucky to be here, and to have this opportunity.
What are you most looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to gaining a variety of experiences and training across a number of different activities such as climbing, mountain walking, biking, paddlesports and swimming. I’ll get to lead groups of kids, adults, and mixed groups, with mixed abilities plus, I’ll be shadowing the instructors. I find leading and coaching most rewarding.
I live on site at the centre in Snowdonia, which is a big bonus. It’s no more than a 7 minute drive to the Ogwen, rather than two and a half hours as it used to be from Lancashire.
"I’m quite good with kids, especially stubborn ones. The ones that don’t want to walk or participate. I have lots of experience having previously worked as a bush craft leader. I have learnt to communicate with them and read them well. My advice is:
- Don’t lie because then they won’t trust you.
- Talking is a great leveller.
- Treat them as human beings.
- Be encouraging."
Do you have any long-term career aspirations? If so, tell us what they are.
I want to keep improving, particularly my climbing.
My experience working in the industry will shape my aspirations, so I expect them to keep changing. I like to make decisions based on what’s in front of me.
Being an instructor at ‘the Brenin’ seems pretty good! Some of the instructors that are here now, started as Centre Assistants here.
Maybe I could own my own company, providing guides to people on staycation?
"I’m not motivated by money and I’m not materialistic. My favourite saying is a popular one but it’s very true - “Do what you’ll love, and you’ll never work another day in your life.” People like Confucius and Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, can’t be wrong."
What made you interested in pursuing both hobbies and a career in the outdoors?
It’s important for me to pursue a career in something I thoroughly enjoy, which is the outdoors. There’s so many different avenues to go down within the entire sector, and that variety definitely makes it an enjoyable setting to work in.
Why did you choose Plas y Brenin?
The experience I’ll gain from 9 months working here pretty much beats any other centre in the UK. It’s the national outdoor centre!
If you could add one course to Plas y Brenin what would it be and why?
I’d suggest skiing courses, although the conditions aren’t really right in Wales. Skiing is a big part of the outdoors but largely I’m clueless at it. I’d love to have a go.
Historically, the British seem to be known for being bad a skiing. But it’s not the case now. I like changing people’s perceptions.
Also, not many people realise that we offer sea kayaking. Perhaps because we’re in the mountains, but actually is easy to reach the sea from Plas y Brenin. And the conditions are amazing for experienced kayakers and novices.
I love sea kayaking because it’s more about long expedition days, rather than fast white-water rapids and short, sharp activity. I love the sense of freedom and relish knowing how to put my training in to action to manage potential dangers.
What’s been a positive outcome for you with regards to Covid-19?
It’s prolonged the course from 6 months to 9. I’ll be here at Plas y Brenin longer. I had an amazing summer off a lifetime and a chance to experience a Winter in Wales.
Because people have been in lockdown, I suspect staycations will be very popular in 2021 and into the future. This should help to stimulate the British outdoor industry as a sector and bring back the demand. With demand should come funding, more business opportunities and a chance for the sector to flourish again. I like the phrase “build back better”. I’m hoping that applies to the outdoor industry.
How do you think the public perceives the outdoors?
Well, some of my mates are indifferent and don’t really appreciate what it has to offer however, when I recently took a friend to the Lake District on a grade one scramble, pre-lockdown I must stress, and it was a revelation for him.
He loved it. We chatted. He opened up. He was inspired by the scenery, and he experienced a real sense of euphoria and achievement.
"The outdoors definitely has healing qualities. It contains so many ingredients that bring about healing. Studies suggest just 20 minutes outdoors, improves your mental health. And apparently, it’s better if you take your shoes off!"
I don’t fully understand it, but I know it works.
Useful links and resources:
Follow the team of centre assistants and Plas y Brenin on social media
And book your very own Epic Adventure Activity Day here – and get a chance to meet this inspiring bunch in person.