Over the summer we were lucky to hear from former St David’s College pupil, Chris Macdonald who attended St David’s between 2010 and 2014. Since leaving us Chris has used the skills, he learned with our incredible Outdoor Education department to take him all over the world including a mega journey on a Stand Up Paddleboard from Mallorca to Ibiza and kayaking down the Zambezi River in Africa.
Chris, great to hear from you again. So, remind us, where are you from?
I’m originally from York but have lived in a few different places over the years due to my job as an outdoor instructor.
What are you up to now?
I’m currently working at a climbing wall, part of a leisure centre in York. Since the start of the pandemic getting a job overseas has been tricky. The last few years I’ve worked in France, Spain, Austria, Canada, and South Africa either teaching water sports or Snowsports. Hopefully, it’s not too long until I can get back to that once international travel is easier.
Did you enjoy your school days?
Definitely. Without St David’s College, I wouldn’t be where I am today, my time at the school definitely improved my confidence and made some amazing friends and all the staff were incredible.
What were the highlights?
The main highlight would definitely have to be the Outdoor Education department, I was always signing up for the activities as soon as they became available and tried to go on as many trips as possible. Sea Kayaking in Sardinia for my year 10 expedition was an awesome trip. Kayaking was definitely my favourite activity to do and definitely gave me the skills to make a career teaching it.
Are you still in touch with your friends?
Some of them yes, it’s always nice to see what your school friends are up to and social media definitely makes that easier to keep in touch with them.
Any favourite teachers?
Without a doubt Aled Edwards and Ian Martin as they got me into Outdoor Sports from my first day to my last! Thank you so much guys!
Stephen Jarvis and Sue Davies were my House Parents at Tryfan house (the best one) and they played a huge part in me being successful at St David’s College, looking after us through anything.
Mark Roberts was my geography teacher and my favourite academic teacher he was such a great character and going to Iceland in Year 11 with St David’s College was a huge highlight!
How did St David’s College help you do what you are doing now? What sort of skills?
Without the Outdoor Education department, I wouldn’t have an outdoor instructor career and I honestly don’t know what I would want to do if it wasn’t for that. The outdoor staff were so inspiring.
Boarding at school definitely helped me gain a bit of independence from an early age too which helped improve my confidence in general too.
Your trip up the Zambezi sounds amazing!
That was in 2017 and I spent six weeks camping in a friend’s back garden paddling the famous rapids either in a kayak or on a Stand-up Paddleboard (SUP). It was an incredible experience, pushing me physically and mentally and I learnt so much about myself and obviously, my paddling skills shot up through the roof. The community around the river are truly inspiring and everyone out there are some of the friendliest faces I’ve met on my travels.
Must have been dangerous though?
Following people, I trust down the rapids meant I felt fairly confident throughout the trip. Swimming when I fell off my SUP was inevitable so definitely made for some adventurous moments swimming down the biggest commercially rafted rapids in the world. Oh, and there’s Crocodiles chilling out on the bank and the sections of calm water too!
So, tell us about your paddleboard adventure from Mallorca to Ibiza?
In August this year, I paddled Mallorca to Ibiza on a SUP. I’ve been on some adventures and pushed myself, but this was pushing it up a level. I had spent the last few months in Mallorca training full time so felt ready.
I set off paddling in the dark at 5am. The first hour was probably the hardest, it was pitch black and choppy, so I really had to focus. After that I wouldn’t say it got easy as there was still quite a rough swell but with the support boat throwing me food and water, I kept the energy levels up best I could. Thirty miles in I had a big dip in energy levels so just sat down on the board for 20 minutes and just got as much food and drink down me as I could. Fifty-five miles and 15 hours later I landed in Ibiza. I don’t remember too much about what I did to celebrate as I was just exhausted and mainly full of relief that I did it.
It just proves that with the right mindset you can really push yourself further than you probably think.
Follow the link below to find out more about our amazing Outdoor Education department and how they can help shape your future too