Sir Chris Bonington: 'passionate about the youth hostel'

Sir Chris Bonington: 'passionate about the youth hostel'

Hostelling charity YHA has enlisted the help of mountaineering elder statesman Sir Chris Bonington in a bid to raise half a million pounds to save a Snowdonia centre.

The organisation says the refurbishment of Bryn Gwynant will cost £2m, and without a cash boost the hostel is in danger of closing.

It is seeking donations of £500,000 towards the scheme, and says it will fund the rest of the cost from its reserves.

The building, south-east of Wales’s highest mountain, was described YHA (England and Wales) chief executive as the jewel in the crown of the charity’s properties, but it is in bad need of repair. It opened in 1959 and has provided accommodation to hundreds of thousands of adventurers, young people, school trips, groups, families and individuals since then.

The ageing building could face closure unless YHA can raise the money. It said if the fundraising campaign is successful, the extensive refurbishment of the building and grounds will secure the future of the youth hostel for future generations as well as provide opportunities to many more young people.

The Bryn Gwynant hostel. Photo: Matt Selby Photography

The Bryn Gwynant hostel. Photo: Matt Selby Photography

As well as restoring the early Victorian mansion house, YHA wants to set up a dedicated fund to support breaks to Bryn Gwynant for young people with challenging lives, and also establish the first YHA Campus there: a pioneering work-skills programme to get young people into jobs.

Set in 42 acres of large wooded grounds with views over Llyn Gwynant and Snowdon itself, more than half a million people have stayed at the hostel, using it as a base while exploring the stunning surroundings.

Sir Chris Bonington said: “I am passionate about both Snowdon Bryn Gwynant youth hostel and the work of YHA; both play a critical role in making Snowdonia accessible to young people.

“It goes beyond low cost accommodation: the youth hostel at Bryn Gwynant is a beacon to many climbers like myself as it offers a warm bed, food, camaraderie and the opportunity for adventure.

“My own climbing adventure began in 1951 when I was only 16 and stayed in Capel Curig youth hostel in Snowdonia. The experience fired my enthusiasm for the hills and set me on the course of my life. However, I have been a member of YHA from the age of 14 when I cycled around the south east visiting castles and staying in youth hostels which was and still is a passion of mine.

“Youth hostels then and today change lives and I believe it is not only important to preserve YHA Snowdon Bryn Gwynant but also open it up to many more young people and their families.

“This cannot be done unless there is significant investment.”

James Blake, chief executive of YHA (England & Wales) said: “YHA Snowdon Bryn Gwynant is a jewel in YHA’s crown. It has already left a legacy in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people who have stayed there and we want to reach at least half a million more.

“The building is hugely significant to the charitable aims of YHA, but in urgent need of refurbishment, which will not be financially viable without wider support. I am delighted that Sir Chis is championing our fundraising campaign to secure the future of YHA Snowdon Bryn Gwynant.”

The charity said plans for the youth hostel are ambitious and will create YHA’s first five-star youth hostel in north Wales providing additional accommodation and facilities as well as enabling YHA to reach out and help many more vulnerable and disadvantaged young people.

A spokesperson said: “Transforming the hostel will create job opportunities as well as help local young people get work ready by gaining crucial work experience, training and qualifications through YHA Campus, to enable them to gain employment in the hospitality industry.”

Donations to the appeal can be made via the YHA website.

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