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Mill on the Brue activity centre celebrates 30 years

By Blackmore Vale Magazine  |  Posted: September 29, 2012

Tricia Rawlingson Plant with son Matt, his wife Flora and their daughters Polly and Isla.

Tricia Rawlingson Plant with son Matt, his wife Flora and their daughters Polly and Isla.

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AN outdoor activity centre which attracts children and adults from across the UK is celebrating its 30th anniversary.

Mill on the Brue is a not-for-profit educational organisation based in Bruton and run by Tricia Rawlingson Plant and her son Matt.

Tricia and husband Tony set up the centre when they moved to Somerset from the Outer Hebrides in 1982.

"We had three young children of our own and we all loved the outdoors, so we decided to start running summer activity camps for children," Tricia explained.

"We were one of just a handful of activity centres back then and we worked incredibly hard and took a lot of risks to get it off the ground."

With the initial staff of two, Mill on the Brue only opened during the summer holidays. The award-winning centre now opens all year round and employs 15 people, rising to 50 during the summer.

Tony died in 2009, but his spirit lives on in the centre and, with Matt working there since 2001, it remains very much a family affair.

"We're a small family business with strong values and this is something the schools that come here really appreciate," Matt said.

"We believe it's vital for children's development to do things outside the classroom. They learn so much through fun and adventure. We see real changes in children over the period of a few days, their confidence grows and they develop deep friendships."

Everything at Mill on the Brue, including the land, the food and the buildings, is built around strong environmental principles and this has been recognised by numerous awards over the years.

"Caring for the environment has been a fundamental part of what we do from the very beginning, and it's something that every child who comes here learns about and appreciates," Matt added.

Tricia admits, however, that things have changed a lot over the last 30 years.

"There's no doubt that children have changed. They have so much more choice now; they travel far more and are much more confident in talking about a huge range of subjects and they're much more multicultural," she said.

"Unfortunately, children are also definitely less fit. Activities they could all do 30 years ago they struggle with now, such as long hikes. They're just not used to walking."

To find out more visit www.millonthebrue.co.uk

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