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Martin Dunn, Activities Manager
Martin Dunn works as the Activities Manager in the Kippure Outdoor Activity Centre in Wicklow. He received a BSc Hons Degree in Outdoor & Environmental Education from the John Moores University in Liverpool. He holds numerous other qualifications in related areas such as rock climbing, mountain leader training, basis kayaking and scuba diving.
I had always wanted to be in a uniformed service of some sort, first preference as a fireman, then the armed services or the police but I have an eye condition that rules me out of these jobs.
So during school I had no idea what I wanted to do and I was not the most academic of people so I chose the subjects that I was better at and would stand me the best chance of good grades.
I did not really choose to follow this career path until I was 25. I had been to university once to do a Coaching Science degree as I was heavily involved in swimming and water polo coaching but this just did not suit me and I dropped out in my first year. So going back a second time as a mature student was a big decision and because I was a mature student they look at you a little differently to entry requirement and take into consideration life experience.
So at the time it was having maths and english plus experience working in sports coaching groups that I think were the main factors. Even the fact that the course had a lot of geography and I had dropped this subject when I was 14 or so, did not go against me and the first year of the course is there to get yourself acquainted with the subject again.
So in hindsight I was lucky enough that my subject choices in school did not affect my current career.
Secondary School - Attended Liverpool Blue Coat School. All subjects achieved passes at G.C.S.E level Maths English (Literature & Language) Biology Physics Chemistry Craft, Design & Technology French History
Liverpool City Colleges - BTEC Sciences - 1 year course equivalent to school GCSE level that I took to increase my grades as they were not as good as I had hoped for
General National Vacation Qualification - 2 year course at a higher level equivalent to English school 'A Levels' that students do between the ages of 16-18. These grades are generally send with applications to university.
Liverpool John Moores University - BSc Hons Degree in Outdoor & Environmental Education achieving a 2:1 grade
Single Pitch Award (rock climbing) - the duration to attain this qualification depends on a few things as firstly you must have 20 logged climbs before you can go for your SPA Training course that lasts 2-3 days and then there is a period of consolidation where you must attain a further 20 logged climbs of certain technical difficulty before you can attend the final SPA Assessment course. Depending which sector of the outdoor industry you want to work in this qualification is very important.
Mountain Leader Training - Again the duration of this depends on different factors and is harder to attain than the SPA. You must again achieve 20 mountain walks following certain criteria (must be more than 6 hours and over 600m) before you can attend the Mountain Leader Training Course that lasts for 5-6 days. This again is followed by a consolidation period where you must do a further 20 walks before you can go for your assessment. It is also recognised that the walk must be different and you should not have all the walks in the same area so in the UK you should have walks completed in Scotland, the Lake District and Snowdonia. This is also a very important qualification
I also have my basic Kayaking Qualification for confined water which are my 2 star (which is a skills award), CST (Canoe Safety Test) and my level 1 coach award. My current job is in a mountain based centre so these are not as important right now.
REC 3 Emergency First Aid Qualification - 3 day course that is essential to have and keep up-to-date. Your first aid does not have to be up to this level but for the remoteness of the centre I work in it was deemed necessary.
I also have my scuba diving Divemaster qualification that I did more for fun than for career development but it might come in handy one day.
Apart from the practical module involving rock climbing, kayaking and mountain walking, the most valuable module for me was call Developmental Training which looks at various aspect of what makes up a good team, the roles within teams, how to identify these traits in people and how to facilitate learning in this area.
I especially enjoyed this module because we all tried out all of the learning on ourselves to gain an understanding of how it worked. It was also very interesting to learn things about yourself and how others might view you from the image you portray.
On the practical skills side I still have to do my Mountain Leader Assessment. I would also like to gain more kayak and canoeing qualifications and maybe an industrial "working at height" qualification, but I would also like to improve the soft skill side of the job role and do a course in facilitation.