After a great deal of planning and research, Horsham District Scouts with support from Nick Broom, CEO of PVL UK, have almost completed a unique project to install an indoor artificial cave training facility at the Horsham District Scouts campsite in Colgate, West Sussex.
Celebrating the safe arrival of the artificial caving system from Oman in December 2019.
The inspiration for the project comes from the late Paul Dold, who sadly lost his life in 2016 in a diving accident. He was a Horsham District Scout Leader, a Group Scout Leader, Cave Leader, member of the South East Cave Rescue Association and proud recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal for services to caving.
Paul’s aim was to make caving accessible to all and he gave countless young people the opportunity to explore underground. Before his death, Paul had talked about building an artificial cave as a Scout training facility and introduce the sport to a wider audience. His twin brother, Martin Dold, is now leading a project dedicated to making Paul’s aim a reality. Inspired by this commitment and drive, Nick Broom and Emily Darnell from PVL UK have joined the team to help make it happen.
An important part of the project is to support Horsham District Council with their strategic community partnership objectives. By enhancing youth engagement through stimulating activities, the artificial cave system will promote citizenship, prevent anti-social behaviour, develop young peoples’ emotional and psychological resilience and promote healthy lifestyles.
The catchment for the new cave system is huge. Scouting is the largest co-educational youth movement and supports over 460,000 young people aged 5-25 years across the UK. Horsham District Scouts itself has over 1,900 young people, leaders and volunteers with a further 8,200 Scouts within West Sussex. In 2018, the Beacon Hill Scout campsite in Colgate received 17,000 visitors and with the addition of the new artificial caving system, the project will further increase accessibility and inclusion throughout the District.
The facility will also attract more active participants to Scouting and encourage more parents to become adult volunteers, Leaders and Executive Committee members across the District. It will also provide a unique training opportunity for emergency services and cave rescue organisations for ‘confined space’ training.
Planning the budget
Working with the project team, Nick set about delivering a business plan. The initial cost projections gave a fundraising target of close to £110,000 to deliver the project, with the cost of purchasing the artificial cave system taking-up a huge part of the full budget. Undeterred, the project team set about their fundraising and by mid-2019, had successfully raised close to £50,000. This in itself was already a fantastic achievement but the team realised they still had a long way to go to reach their target.
That was when a unique opportunity presented itself.
Opportunity favours the bold
One of the suppliers of a potential new cave system for the project had news that a customer was looking to sell a barely used system for a very low price. The only catch was the system was currently installed in a leisure centre in Oman.
Nick looked at the costs of purchasing, dismantling and shipping the system back to the UK and realised that they already had most of the budget to make this happen. Better still, there was far too much cave system on offer for the Horsham project alone, so by selling on parts of the system to a Scout activity centre in Glasgow and a Scout campsite in Lincoln, the project could proceed immediately.
Bringing it all together
To finalise handover of the cave system, Nick visited the installation in Oman during a business trip and together with Emily Darnell, made the arrangements for dismantling and shipping everything back to the UK. In late October 2019, the cave system set sail for the UK in three forty-foot containers.
Nick Broom (left), CEO of PVL UK, receiving the cave system from Craig Ogilvie, Manager of Trampo Extreme in Oman, on behalf of Horsham Scouts.
Meanwhile, back in the UK at the Colgate campsite, the groundworks and foundations for the project had been completed. The parts for the building that would house the artificial cave system had also arrived and were constructed during November, ready to be fitted out when the cave system arrived.
Completed groundworks and building construction at the Horsham District Scout camping site in Colgate.
Delivering safe and accessible caving for everyone
The project is now in its final phase of completion with work complete on all the external building elements and finishing touches being made the internal cave system installation. Thanks to the support of so many and the good fortune of finding the Oman cave system, the project will be completed more than a year ahead of plan. Over 460,000 Scouts across the UK (and many others) will also now have not one, but three new artificial systems to use as an introduction to caving.
Everyone will shortly be able to enjoy an exhilarating and realistic caving experience in a safe and controlled environment.
Nick Broom, CEO of PVL UK, commented: “It has been a pleasure to support this project from concept to completion. The team has worked tirelessly to bring everything together and their commitment has been infectious. We recognised the significance of the community value of this project early on, both as a fitting memorial to Paul Dold and also as a facility that would enhance the learning and development of so many young people across the UK.”
For more information about the cave system project, please visit: www.horshamscoutscave.org