From education to employment

Mush appreciation for Llysfasi land-based college’s unique sled dog partnership

Ffion Parry and Ronan Dyke

@COLEGCAMBRIA students need look snow further for a unique work placement 

The college’s Llysfasi site has joined forces with Mynydd Sleddog Adventures – Wales’ first and only sled dog adventure attraction – to offer learners a rare and exciting experience.

Two youngsters from the land-based institution, near Ruthin, have already spent time at the Llansannan facility and were praised for their hard work and care of the animals.

Joe Swiffen, owner of the business, was “gutted” to say goodbye to Ffion Parry (pictured) and Ronan Dyke and is now looking for three new students to join them.

As they reopen with social distancing measures in place, following the COVID-19 lockdown, Joe and the team are recruiting musher’s assistants to carry out a range of tasks from harnessing dogs and driving a quad, to putting together teams for training and hydration, feeding and grooming.

A sled dog racer with 20 years of international pedigree, she believes it’s another amazing opportunity for learners and will further strengthen their relationship with Llysfasi.

“It’s a great way to study dog behaviour and management with our Alaskan and Siberian huskies, as well as the German Short Haired Pointer and Scandinavian hounds we have here at Mynydd Sleddog,” said Joe.

“We need help with the training of yearling sled dogs for use within the business and competitive racing, and there’s the possibility of one of the group learning to drive a team if they show willingness and the desire to do so.”

She added: “I come from different social background and didn’t have the chance to pursue my dreams when I was 16, so with these placements I want to provide opportunities I never had in the hope they won’t make the same mistakes I did growing up.

“Llysfasi was the natural choice as they support young people in rural communities, and the interest we received before the Coronavirus pandemic was huge, with lots of them keen to engage.

“Ffion and Ronan stood out because of their openness, honesty and determination to achieve, that’s exactly what we are looking for.”

Mynydd Sleddog Adventures is home to Xinaskyii Sled Dog Team, a well-respected racing outfit which picked up medals at the British National Championships.

As well as taking part in competitions, they also offer husky rides along the forest trails of Bwlch Hafod Einion, near Cerrigydrudion, Conwy.

Iain Clarke, Assistant Principal of Technical Studies and site lead at Llysfasi, said the college’s collaboration with the attraction will be a positive for both organisations in the years ahead:

“Joe is passionate about giving our Animal Care and Management learners an exciting and rewarding position to gain valuable work experience at what is a brilliant new facility here in North Wales,” said Iain.

“We look forward to working together in partnership and thank them for providing the students with an opportunity unavailable anywhere else in the country. We are so fortunate to have them on our doorstep.”

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