Allnatt Outdoors has shut its centre in Swanage and on the Isle of Wight making all of its 24 members of staff redundant after losing 97 per cent of its income due to coronavirus restrictions.
The company, that makes most of its money from hosting residential school trips, has been unable to do so since the start of the first lockdown in March 2020.
It has two centres – one in Ulwell Road in Swanage and the other is a Victorian mansion at East Dene on the Isle of Wight.
Originally founded in 1924
Now almost a year on, despite a high profile campaign to get government financial support for the outdoor education industry, the company has been forced to shut its doors.
It was originally founded in 1924 – nearly a 100 years ago, by Joseph Allnatt to provide children from different backgrounds and localities the experience of enjoying educational trips away.
“Very sad news for the town and especially the staff”
The CEO of Allnatt Outdoors, Sarah Beech said:
“Despite the tremendous efforts of the staff on the ‘SaveOutdoorEd’ campaign, we received the sad news that all staff were to be made redundant on Tuesday 26th January 2021.
“The centre in Swanage and the Isle of Wight were both closed on Friday 29th January 2021. It is not known whether the centre in Swanage is to be closed permanently. The centre in Swanage has been running trips for many years and during its time many local people have worked there through the years.
“It is very sad that so many children will lose the benefit of this great place for their school trips in the future and of course, it is very sad news for the town and especially the staff who worked there.”
Plight of the outdoor education sector
In October 2020, Sarah Beech led a well organised campaign to raise awareness of the plight of the outdoor education sector, highlighting all the inspirational places that school children get to experience when they visit Swanage, including Old Harry Rocks.
The protest was backed by other Swanage-based members of the industry, including Cumulus Outdoors, Leeson House Field Studies Centre, Fore Adventure, Land and Wave and Geofieldwork.
While the outdoor education sector in Scotland has received support from the Scottish government, in England, the industry has not qualified for substantial targeted funding. Offering a combination of education, leisure and hospitality, it has not qualified for help in any one of those sectors. The company had been able to furlough 20 out of its 24 staff.
“Next time you toast a marshmallow, think of us”
On Allnatt Outdoors Facebook page, the company posted:
“We have been at the forefront of the #SaveOutdoorEd campaign and are proud of what we tried to achieve.
“To all the other outdoor education centres that are struggling – Good Luck and we will miss being part of the wider outdoor family.
“To our lovely customers – Thank you for choosing us for your outdoor learning experiences. Next time you toast a marshmallow, think of us.