New chair and trustees for the National Outdoor Centre

The Mountain Training Trust (MTT), the operator ofSport England’s National Outdoor Centre, Plas y Brenin, has appointed a new Chair of Trustees, and three new Trustees.

Peter Ashman moves into the role of Chair after two and a half years as a Trustee on the MTT Board, taking over from Sara Mogel OBE, who stepped down this year after serving in the role for five years.

During his career, Peter spent 30 years in healthcare and scientific publishing and was CEO of the international health information and education company BMJ Publishing before retiring early in 2019. He also spent five years as Chair of the publishing trade association ALPSP, which represents the interests of not-for-profit scholarly publishers and which also produces its own training and events.

Passionate about the outdoors, Peter spends much of his free time walking in the Chiltern Hills and, occasionally, open water swimming – one of Plas y Brenin’s more recent programmes.

Joining him on the Board as Trustees are Ben Coates, Lisa Dickinson, and Matthew Tennant, replacing former Trustees Sara Walker and Rona Chester.

Ben Coates is currently Chief of Staff at the Equality and Human Rights Commission and a Trustee of Cardiff-based equalities charity, Diverse Cymru. Lisa Dickinson has led a wide range of people, cultural and IT change and transformation projects and programmes in the private sector, and is a #ShePaddles ambassador for British Canoeing as well as a qualified whitewater leader. With a career working in educational organisations and professional bodies, alongside various non-executive roles within charities, Matthew Tennant is currently Chair of the Trustee Board for OutdoorLads, a UK-wide charity running outdoor activities for the LGBTQ community.

The new roles commence in a pivotal year for the Centre as it begins to emerge from the Covid pandemic, which severely impacted outdoor education and the wider outdoor industry. Peter’s leadership, supported by the Trustees, will be instrumental in shaping the future of the Centre as it welcomes new partnerships, bolsters its offering, operates more sustainably and boosts participation in outdoor activities from all communities.

Peter Ashman said: “I’m delighted to be appointed as Chair of Mountain Training Trust, operating Sport England’s National Outdoor Centre at Plas y Brenin. The Board of Trustees and I look forward to supporting CEO Ruth Hall and her team through a very exciting period of growth, as we implement the strategy to offer world class outdoor training in our stunning location in North Wales and beyond. We will also work to encourage a greater number and wider variety of people to experience the benefits of being outdoors. Over the last two and a half years, there has been an enormous growth in the number of people exercising outdoors and the physical and mental health benefits are well documented.

“I look forward to working with Sport England, our wide range of stakeholders across the outdoor sector and many more like minded organisations which share our passion for the outdoors.

“I encourage anyone to come and visit us in North Wales and experience the benefits, thrill and hospitality which Plas y Brenin has to offer.”

Ruth Hall, CEO at Plas y Brenin, said: “Firstly, I wish to thank Sara Mogel for her tremendous help and support over the last five years. Her insights and direction have been invaluable and I will miss her guidance and leadership.

“At the same time, I’d like to warmly welcome Peter as incoming Chair and Ben, Lisa and Matt as Trustees. Peter’s experience and knowledge of both the corporate and non-profit sectors will equip him well for his new role as Chair. We look forward to his contributions towards shaping the future of Plas y Brenin. We’re delighted he is joined by three new members, all of which have fantastic and varied experience that we believe will create a strong Board, comprising a variety of backgrounds and perspectives that can only benefit the future of the Mountain Training Trust and Plas y Brenin as it cements its position as a leading provider of training in the outdoors.”

The Board of Trustees, all of whom are volunteers, oversee the activities of the charity (Mountain Training Trust and Plas y Brenin). The Board shapes the strategic development of the charity, providing creative, insight-led and constructive input.

The new Trustees

Ben Coates is a public servant with a range of experience in central government and the public sector. He is currently Chief of Staff at the Equality and Human Rights Commission and prior to that worked at the Foreign Office, leading their major international education programmes. He is also a Trustee of Cardiff-based equalities charity, Diverse Cymru, an executive coach and a mentor with the Social Mobility Foundation. Ben is a keen climber, hiker and runner, making the most of the stunning outdoors on his doorstep in Cardiff.

He said: “Plas y Brenin is a special place – it’s impossible to spend any time there and not be energised and inspired to get outdoors. I’m thrilled to have an opportunity to contribute to its future as a Trustee. The outdoors should be for everyone, not just a privileged few, and I want to see more people having their own adventures. Plas y Brenin, as the National Outdoor Centre, equips climbers, mountaineers, paddlers, mountain bikers and more with the skills they need to thrive outdoors. It’s a privilege to be part of this.”

Lisa Dickinson has nearly 15 years of experience working in the private sector, leading a wide range of people, cultural and IT change and transformation projects and programmes including a focus on strategy definition as well as Diversity and Inclusion.

With a background in Scouting and Guiding, Lisa has always had an interest in spending time in the outdoors. Most recently, she focussed her efforts on whitewater kayaking. She went from hating water and not being able to swim to becoming a qualified whitewater leader in 2021 and has spent the last year helping support other women who want to build their confidence in whitewater as a #ShePaddles Ambassador for British Canoeing. She is now working towards her whitewater coach award. Outside of paddling, Lisa is also a keen climber and walker and has recently completed her Mountain Leader training.

Lisa has first-hand experience of courses at Plas y Brenin and is excited about the opportunity to use her corporate and outdoor experience to help the MTT further grow their mission of helping people get active in the outdoors.

Lisa said: “I discovered Plas y Brenin last year and have been on a few courses since and loved them, so PYB has grown close to my heart as an outdoor organisation. When I saw the opportunity come up to join the board I just had to apply. I’ve got a lot of experience in the private sector across HR, IT, change and transformation and felt that I could apply that to help PYB in the next stage of its growth and evolution.”

Matthew Tennant’s career to date has been in Education, working in both Higher and Professional Body organisations, alongside various non-executive roles within charities. He is currently Chair of the Trustee Board for OutdoorLads, a UK-wide charity running outdoor activities for the LGBTQ community.

Matt said:I am very excited to be joining the MTT Trustee Board. I have a lifelong passion for outdoor activity and Education, and my love for the outdoors is mainly involved in hill walking, mountaineering and more recently Paddlesports. MTT and Plas y Brenin have a fantastic offering ranging from professionals wanting to improve their skill sets to widening participation in the outdoors. A particular interest of mine is around developing, implementing and monitoring strategies to improve diversity and inclusion, while increasing engagement of under-represented groups in outdoor activities.”

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