Three Generations of adventure
TYF has a history of adventure and innovation that started in the early 1980s when Andy Middleton returned home. After two years travelling, he’d found nowhere better for adventure than his home county of Pembrokeshire.
The small beginnings of a windsurfing school spiralled upwards and outwards to create an international adventure and education business that now forms the core of TYF. The purchase of Twr y Felin was the realisation that this was no longer just a way to validate spending as much time on the beach as possible. Hard work ensued as the Twr developed its character.
Simple and social living arrangements invited groups of young people, surfers, kayakers and climbers to come down and hang out for a few days or weeks. There was interaction between strangers with a common bond, showing what could be achieved when faced with shared adventures. Youth Training programmes were developed to encourage this ethic within work places and the surfers… surfed!
By the late 80s business had gone past the hobby stage; Andy has to consider the fact that he was now an employer. In other words, finding other people to go out and do the job. In retaliation to this giving away of the fun side of the work – he came back with the creation of “The Bitches World Freestyle Kayak Championships”. These competitions ignored many of “The Rules” of kayaking and often had parties to match! Think carefully if you are ever offered sponsorship by Jose Cuervo!
Something dark started to murmur in the caves of St. Nons. Surfers, climbers, kayakers, windsurfers were all having a great time, but something was amiss. When there were no waves, or it was raining; it was too windy or not enough, they weren’t packing up and going home. Instead they were getting themselves kitted up and doing something that seemed to resemble a hybrid of every adventure sport available: Coasteering®. The climbers climbed; surfers swam and the lemmings jumped! This quickly became an alternative buzz, a way of winding down, getting some exercise and for the staff a great way to hold meetings!
The increase in our adventure activities matched a boom in the market and TYF proposed that an agreement should be sought on how our environmental impact could be managed. The Pembrokeshire Outdoor Charter was born and christened by Sir Chris Bonnington. Pembrokeshire College & the University of Glamorgan also picked up on the trend and together we designed the college diplomas in Sports Science with Outdoor Activities.
An off shoot from TYF, Pembroke Management Development, quickly took root as our customers realised the value that coaching could offer their work teams – new environments, new perspectives and an external viewpoint became a winning combination for their development programmes. With high demands on business, the range of programmes quickly diversified to fit into the work place, rather than relying on Mother Nature.
Meanwhile, Twr y Felin gained Tŷ Hir cottage and closed the decade with a new hat when the new roof was re-fitted after 80 years of sturdy service.
2000 and onwards
Sitting in a staff room today there are more Adventure Guides than we used to have customers – and that is a scary thought! People who find fun in surfing 6 foot walls of water, jumping from cliffs into the sea or teetering up rock walls are not known for their moderation. Enthusiasm is a key trait of TYF staff, especially for having fun!
We stick by our values and hold the view that a quick fix will also be a quick break. Increasingly this message is one that rings true with our friends, colleagues and customers. Environmentally, we have become much more aware of our impact and recognise that whatever we take out needs to be replaced. “Putting something back” has been a part of our work and we encourage others to do so through our courses and example.