A NORTHALLERTON schoolboy who went on to become a record-breaking mountaineer has reopened "the training ground of his youth" six years after it was forced to close its gates.
Alan Hinkes (back right), with the children of Overdale School
and their teacher Linda Harper and Herbert Tindall
World famous climber Alan Hinkes joined local residents and school children to unveil a plaque at Great Fryupdale Outdoor Centre yesterday (Tuesday September 19) as it opened its gates to the public for the first time since financial pressures forced its closure in 2000.
Alan, who regularly stayed at the old centre in Fryupdale whilst a pupil at Northallerton Grammar School, made history last year by becoming the first Briton to scale all 14 Himalayan peaks over 8,000m in height, including Everest and the infamously perilous K2, often dubbed the Killer Mountain.
The climb made Alan part of an exclusive club of only 12 people alive who have achieved this feat, which is the same number of people who have stood on the moon.
The centre started its life 200 years ago as the school for the children of Fryupdale and was built by the people of the dale.
Forty years ago the school closed but the Local Education Authority kept the building and converted it into a residential outdoor centre to be used by children from all over the old North Riding.
The cost of maintaining the old building finally became too much and in 2000 County Councillors took the decision to close it.
The story may have ended there, had it not been for the dogged persistence of Herbert Tindall, who is both a County Councillor and Mayor of Scarborough, and a group of school children from the towns' Overdale School, whose campaigning led County Councillors to permit it to be reopened if the money became available.
Alan on his record breaking climb
Then, in 2003, North Yorkshire County Council won a £200,000 Big Lottery New Opportunities Fund bid, enabling the centre to be refurbished and re-opened.
County Councillor John Watson, executive member for outdoor education, said: "The reopening of this popular centre is great news for the people of North Yorkshire and we are all indebted to those whose sweat, determination and unflagging campaigning has been pivotal in securing its future.
"We're all delighted that Alan has been 100 per cent behind the project and were thrilled that he could come to herald this exciting new chapter in the centre's life."