A new indoor climbing centre has opened in the old boathouse in Llandudno, thanks to a £50,000 loan from the Development Bank of Wales.
The Boathouse Climbing Centre is run by experienced outdoor pursuit instructor Andy Sutcliffe and his wife Emma-Jane and is the only provider in the area who runs weekly clubs for children with physical and mental disabilities.
Andy, 41, has spent many years developing his skills and knowledge within the outdoor sector providing rock climbing, mountain climbing, kayaking, canoeing and gorge walking instruction. He has also worked as Climbing Coordinator for Conwy County Borough Council.
The Boathouse Climbing Centre, housed in the old RNLI boathouse station on Lloyd Street, Llandudno, is the culmination of six years planning but Andy has only been able to realise his dream with the help of the Development Bank of Wales funding.
He said: “I’ve previously managed the indoor climbing facilities for Conwy Leisure Centres in my role as Climbing Co-ordinator for Conwy County Borough Council but unfortunately the council were not in a position to further invest and develop the facilities and programmes.
“Thanks to the loan from Development Bank of Wales I was able to rejuvenate an amazing building and open a facility that is helping to promote the area for tourism and we are attracting even more people from the local community to come and use the facilities. We are the home of Conwy Monkeys which is a climbing club for children and young people who have autism and their siblings. There is an open-door policy to other additional needs with or without a formal diagnosis. Long term we are hoping to expand and start Conwy Gorillas for adults with additional needs.
“We wanted to develop the Old Lifeboat Station with respect and care of its history and have used local businesses and suppliers for the revamp. We appeal to advanced climbers and beginners alike. Our youngest climber is two years old and our eldest is 94, so there really is something for everyone and more people are getting the opportunity to participate.”
The plans for the Boathouse Climbing Centre were drawn up by Leigh Topping, a designer specialising in indoor adventure structures. He ran his own climbing wall business in West Yorkshire which has a fast-growing customer base, making him a valuable mentor for Andy.
Portfolio Executive Kelly Jones said Andy is both hard-working and inspirational, especially for the work he does for the local community in North Wales.
She said: “Andy has been offering climbing and adventure services to people in the area for a number of years. His work with disabled children and their families has made a real positive impact on the local community. With this project, he’s able to offer up-to-date facilities for climbers in Llandudno. The Development Bank is passionate about making investments that can have a meaningful social impact on the community. We were struck, not just by Andy’s sound business plan but the positive effect the Boathouse Climbing Centre will have on the area.”