I was brought up in Southport, in the North West of England and later in Longton, near Preston. Despite being a long way from the nearest ski area I was lucky enough to enjoy quite a few ski holidays when I was younger. As a result my folks tell me I first wanted to become a ski instructor before the age of ten.
Whilst still at college I qualified as a football coach, and then as a swimming coach, and worked at both jobs during weekends and the summer, including two summers coaching football in the U.S. I enjoyed both and the experience confirmed I loved teaching skiing remained my passion, and shortly after I qualified as a BASI level 1 Alpine Instructor, which allowed me to teach on dry and indoor slopes in the U.K. At the time I was studying Sports Science at Swansea University.
The early days…
I got my first break abroad with Interski after qualifying as a ski technician, and enjoyed a fantastic season in Courmayeur in Italy at the base of Mont Blanc. At the time UK instructors were only allowed to work a few weeks a year in Italy, so working as a technician allowed me both to instruct and work the full season.
Fired up by the experience of my first ski season and already having gained my BASI Level 2 Alpine qualifications I realised that I had a real talent for teaching disabled clients, and so I also joined the BASI adaptive programme and qualified as a BASI Level 2 Adaptive Instructor.
A full time ski instructor…
Now qualified skiing became my full time career when I returned to Interski as an instructor for a season.
Over the next couple of years I worked in the winter for Redpoint Holidays in Fugen in Austria as an Alpine and Adaptive Ski Instructor. Redpoint specialise in organising adaptive ski holidays, so this was a real opportunity to build on my adaptive ski training. I gained experience working with a wide range of disabled clients, including clients with multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, cri du chat syndrome, amputees and traumatic brain injuries as well as able bodied clients of all ages and abilities.
Part of my role at Redpoint was to ensure that the adaptive ski equipment was fully serviced and maintained. This includes repairing parts of the mono and bi ski, servicing all the skis and keeping all the equipment well maintained in order to maximise performance and safety – all building on my earlier ski tech experience and useful skills to have!
Whilst working at Interski and Redpoint I also worked for four seasons in New Zealand. Initially at Cardrona Alpine Resort for a couple of years, where I worked in the Adaptive Department under Jane Stevens, formerly head of the British Disabled Ski Team and coach to the British Paralympic team. I also gained experience working with the Events Department, setting courses for Giant Slalom, Slalom and Border Cross courses.
At Cardrona I was lucky enough to work with the British ParaIympic ski team, assisting during their Summer training programme. An incredible experience which which I feel lucky to have been part of.
In my second two seasons in New Zealand I was the Adaptive coordinator at Turoa ski field in North Island. My role included the training of all adaptive qualified instructors and the training and organisation of the volunteers that assist in the adaptive learning centre. It was my responsibility to match the adaptive instructors to clients and ensuring all teaching is delivered to the highest standard possible, as well as delivering many lessons myself.
By this time – 2013/14 – I had gained my Adaptive and Alpine Level 3 qualifications which opened up new opportunities, and in Winter 2013/14 I returned to Interski, based in Pila near Aosta in Italy as the Snow School Co-ordinator. This was a new a different experience, managing up to one hundred and twenty instructors and ski groups, with over a thousand clients in the busiest weeks as well as delivering training to Interski instructors.
In Winter 2014/15 Faye and I moved to Switzerland, which we’ve made our home for the last three years, working for Summit Ski School. As well as delivering Alpine lessons I’ve helped set up Summit’s disabled ski program, now in it’s second successful season.
Working all year round in Zermatt means glacier skiing in the summer, as well as giving me time to indulge one or two other hobbies!
And finally, a couple of years ago, I was lucky enough to be accepted as BASI Adaptive Trainer, one of handful of BASI instructors that teach the rest. Since delivering my first course in June 2014 I’ve delivered courses both in the Alps and in the UK, usually just before or after the season starts, as well as in the Summer months – so you never know – if you hang around a snow centre in the UK long enough you may just bump into me!
Every ski instructor gets the satisfaction of watching a client who could barely stand up five days earlier negotiate their first hard blue or easy red without falling. For me watching a disabled client achieve their goal – be it getting down the first nursery slope or mastering far harder runs unassisted – is the reason I teach.