Hello, my name is Mal Tabb.
Thanks for visiting our web pages. Marion & I operate a small outdoor activity organisation called Canoes, Mountains & Caves. We provide activities for: adults, young people, schools, charities, families & individuals. A key aspect of our work is the provision of a "Community Programme" which is offered free of charge to participants. If you think we might be able to help please don't hesitate to contact us, you can find out more about what we do on our main website www.canoesmountainscaves.com

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Wild Places & Sacrifice

A Personal Journey

A lifestyle that involves both working and spending as much time as possible enjoying the outdoors has not always been the case.

I have vivid early memories of long walks in the Cheshire countryside and tramping up and down hills in North Wales with my Mum, Dad & (middle) brother, these were good times which undoubtedly laid a foundation for what was to come. However, predictably, life followed a pathway that will sound all to familiar to most: school, college, work and like many, in the area of the country from which I originated, this led into the local chemical industry. It must be said that these were enjoyable days with few regrets. Science, particularly chemistry held a fascination whether it involved building molecules of interest or working out how to extract in a pure form the material which was deemed to be of use or interest, I had some great mentors & teachers! Long quests in the laboratory to pursue lofty goals provided challenge for the mind and demanded a degree of dexterity. The atmosphere in the early days had a distinctly academic slant which over the years, sadly, evolved quite rapidly into something with a much sharper commercial focus. A developing "career" and changes in business structure ultimately led to a life changing move from what had always been "home" on the banks of the Mersey to what I now regard as the "Beautiful North East of England" and work in the chemical industry had become both lucrative and comfortable.

I fell in love with the North East and despite ten years in Cumbria still enjoy every opportunity to re-visit good friends and familiar places. It was after just a year or so in this new home that I became both impressed and quite motivated by the work of Messrs (Reverend) Rob Bianchi and Captain Alan Rainford (Church Army) in the then recently created West Pelton Activity Centre. This was essentially a Church based youth outreach project which rather than rely on the usual combination of table tennis, pool and darts at the youth club to engage young people employed the media of kayaking, canoeing, rock climbing and caving. To me this was a fresh and innovative approach, the work struck a chord and with their support elements of what they were doing with young people began to be practiced in the Church youth work (Boys' Brigade) I was involved in myself. The benefits were tangible and the sense of adventure that it engendered different to everything I had experienced in this area previously.

Life took on a strange sense of imbalance. Work became increasingly less science and more commercially biased with travel commitments that led to a good twenty countries being visited, many on a regular basis over a 6-7 year period. The material rewards associated with this increased substantially. Weekends, however, revolved around training to master the vagaries of open canoes and kayaks as interest in this area grew. There was much good coaching along with equal measure of trial and error, I was hooked! All this was underpinned by a growing conviction that there must be "more to life" than working to make money for a large chemical producer (I was well aware of the rewards this returned to me). Self analysis; the prayers of myself and others; and much soul searching continued, often with great anguish and anxiety over just where true values lay, were they in the comfortable, some might say affluent lifestyle of the mainstream? Or should these values be sacrificed for the more spiritual realm of trying to inspire young people (and adults) of the benefits of interacting with our created environment, indeed exploring faith, through what was essentially a tiny Christian Charity operating on a shoestring budget from a small corner of North East England?

Eventually, the "call" to a different way of life won, it was time to move on to canoes, mountains and caves. So it was, the chemical industry received my resignation, with no firm plan as to how to transition into this new world - to some what would seem to be the most reckless thing I'd ever done in my life! The rest, as they say, is by and large the history that is summarised in these pages.

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