By Matthew Leslie
“We firmly believe that a parent’s financial circumstances should never, ever be a barrier to a child experiencing in what we have to offer,” insists Blue Green Yonder managing director, Caolán Faux.
The water adventure firm, recently set up base on Castle Island in Enniskillen offering a raft of activities such as canoeing, kayaking, paddleboarding along with their four-day Summer Splash programme that is currently running.
Last year, Blue Green Yonder were granted a 25-year lease from the Council and have set about creating a water adventure hub for locals and tourists alike.
Faux states the company wishes to make their Castle Island facility open to all – especially to kids who want to try out the activities but feel priced out from doing so.
He said: “One of our key ethos from our founding principles surrounds increasing access to the water for everyone.
“We’ve done great work in providing access to those with disabilities or have any other barriers towards participation. We do a lot of work with young people with statutory agencies, youth agencies and various others.
“We firmly believe that a parent’s financial circumstances should never, ever be a barrier to a child experiencing in what we have to offer.
“Prices start from £10 for water-confidence sessions right through to the summer camps – which this year are £120. Over the last number of years though, we have given away thousands of pounds worth of bursary places.
“Essentially, these are free of charge places to children who simply would not be able to afford it.
“Where there is a genuine issue around money, we have been able to support children’s participation free of charge to ensure that they don’t miss out.
“Generally, the bursaries are assessed on a case-by-case basis.”
Having obtained the lengthy lease, Faux insists that Blue Green Yonder have a lot of plans to help make Castle Island a must-visit attraction – and not necessarily for those wanting to try out the water sports on offer.
He added: “We have huge plans over the next 25 years. There are really, really significant amounts of money to be invested into that facility to make it the best possible tourism and community resource it can be.
“There are a lot of long-term plans in the works as well as the immediate work to bring it to a useable standard which we are carrying out day-to-day.
“Castle Island is very precious in the hearts and minds of the community. We want to be very respectful in how we develop the island.
“One piece of branding we have come up with is the ‘Castle Island Oasis’. Obviously we will have the outdoor activities and all the adventure stuff happening there. But there are also parts of the island that are very much to be protected for green spaces or quiet spaces.
“The idea is very much that when people come to the island, they will have two worlds. They will have the adventure activities – or the white-knuckle stuff as I call it – but they will also have the potential to go and sit under a tree and unwind with a book. I think that’s really important as well.
“We also hope to develop a vegetable garden and we also want to work with all of the heritage groups to make Castle Island a space that really is at the heart of the community, but also is a highly-desirable tourist destination.
“The public reaction has been overwhelmingly positive – it has taken us by storm. We’ve been blown away by the reception we’ve had from the community.”
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