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Outdoor education pioneer retires from ‘dream job’

By WBCraig  |  Posted: February 05, 2014

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Alan Hulbert with students at the college, holding a photo book given to him by staff

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ONE of the pioneers of outdoor education in Cornwall has retired after 37 years in his ‘dream job.’

Alan Hulbert retired from Penryn College, a school which he described as “fantastic” and “innovative,” just before Christmas.

He started as a ceramic teacher in 1976 but helped to start a “revolutionary” teaching practice ten years later with the school’s first summer camp in the Isles of Scilly.

Mr Hulbert was part of a movement which started teaching every subject on the curriculum through outdoor education.

“To be able to take youngsters in those numbers and to be able to access the curriculum as opposed to just taking a trip away, was revolutionary,” said Mr Hulbert.

“Outdoor education at that time was really quite a strong movement in the school, which was at the same time as the school became a sports college.

“Summer camp just took off and got bigger and bigger.”

He was supported by the then head teacher Dave ‘Benji’ Thomas and current deputy head Ros Bastion.

Mr Hulbert said: “I am so grateful for having been allowed to develop my own career, to effectively write my own timetable. I cannot deny that I’ll miss a dream job like that.”

Some of his best memories are of the students and staff, many of whom love to share stories of their school days with him when they seem him in the local community.

“The overriding thing I remember is the company of students and staff,” he said. “It has been like one big happy family.

“In teaching you don’t get immediate rewards but what you do get is that really nice feeling of meeting up with students. And long may that continue.

“Some of my best times have been loading a bunch of kids into a minibus to go on an outing.

“That is the nicest and most rewarding part of teaching, those who remember you and you remember them.”

Mr Hulbert lives with his wife Eanya corrnear Stithians Lake, a place where he spent a lot of time on outdoor excursions with the school.

His role at the college has led him to take part in a leg of an around-the-world yacht race, from New Zealand to Australia, as part of a school project with sailor Pete Goss MBE.

On another adventure, the father-of-two went on an expedition to the Arctic. He also met The Queen on a school outing to London.

And in retirement, Mr Hulbert is not planning to rest.

“I would like to get into some sort of adventure such as go to the Antarctic,” he said. “Time goes so quickly.”

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