Dane Court Grammar School has a long-standing and valuable link with Kent County Council’s outdoor activities centre in North Wales.
The school was among the first to make use of the Centre when it opened in the 1970’s and, with the exception of it’s closure in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has had an unbroken record of annual visits.
I have kept notes on all the KMC trips I organised and ran but they only tell the story since 1987. More than 800 Dane Court students participated in a total of well over 50 trips.
Before my involvement in 1987 I estimate there were ten visits with at least another 200 participating students.
On top of all this we can add the estimated 200 return visits made by those students lucky enough to have attended Dane Court in the 1990s when I ran an extra KMC trip for year 10 and year 12 each February.
The appeal of the KMC trip is timeless. I have rarely struggled to fill every available place on a visit; in fact, recent years have often seen a big enough increase in applications to boost our annual group from 27 to around 36 students.
Much of Dane Court’s success in maintaining its ties to KMC is down to the enthusiasm and outstanding dedication of the staff involved – both from the school and working at the Centre. Dane Court Grammar School offers its sincerest thanks to the scores of professional and caring people who have helped our students over more than four decades – from the first Head of Centre, Mike de Petrovsky (a notable global adventurer in his own right) and his successor Mike Cousins through to our current visiting staff team (which includes a Dane Court old boy on his umpteenth trip as a volunteer).
Over the years, KMC staff and facilities have supported numerous Dane Court outdoor trips and adventures inspiring many participants to pursue outdoor and adventurous activities in their own time and make them an important part of their adult lives or even their careers. Here are some notable examples:
- One student, having graduated from university, emigrated to New Zealand to work as an outdoor activities instructor.
- Another went on to serve as president of Manchester University Mountaineering Club.
- Dane Court students have contributed to the updating of climbing guide books by climbing new routes, submitting route descriptions and appearing in photographs.
- In the 2000s, a small group of students took their love of rock climbing and applied it to indoor competition climbing. Initially taking local and South East regional events by storm, it was not long before our students were winning podium places at national competitions all over the UK.
- Two went on to compete for Team GB.
- A third, after a few years away from the sport, returned to competitive climbing, became British Bouldering champion in 2016 and is currently a member of team GB and works as a professional route setter.
- And, of course, there are dozens of Dane Court students – now mums and dads – who have maintained their interest in the outdoors and are now introducing its joys to their children.