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Manchester High School for Girls


17-year-old Helen  has just passed a Mountain Training’s Foundation Coach Award for Climbing; making her the youngest qualified climbing coach in the country.

The Manchester High School for Girls student only started indoor climbing two years ago as part of her GCSE Physical Education studies. She now helps train younger students alongside the school’s climbing coach while studying for her A-levels.

Helen explained: “I partly chose Manchester High because of its sporting facilities, and the climbing wall is brilliant. My teachers encouraged me to take part in a bouldering competition which first got me hooked on climbing. It is a very technical sport which requires you to have physical strength as well as the mental ability to make strategic calculations. It’s a great way to take your mind off things and I find it really relaxing.

“The coaching aspect of the sport is also rewarding; seeing young people develop their skills and enjoying themselves makes me happy!”

Helen is currently revising for her exams in Biology, Psychology and Physical Education, and is weighing up her higher education options having had offers from all of her choices of university.

She said: “I will be going to either the University of Bath or Loughborough. There are opportunities to get involved with climbing in both towns which is excellent.

“Achieving the coaching qualification has been a really positive experience for me; I used to doubt whether I could do it but I am so glad my climbing coach and teachers supported me and encouraged me to go for it. Passing the assessment and realising I was the only teenager in the entire country to achieve this qualification felt amazing!”

Paul Harris, climbing instructor at Manchester High School for Girls, said: “Helen has shown great dedication for climbing and helping others after school. Her achievement is massive and we are really proud of her! ”

Paul Smith, mountaineering instructor and climbing coach at Rock and Water Adventures, said: “To pass the Foundation Coach award, you must show a solid grasp of the fundamental coaching skills required to provide a simulating climbing session for climbers. Helen did this with ease, demonstrating coaching practice that many others with significally more ‘instructional’ experience fail to show. Well done to her!”