Local Face: Richard Long

  |  Published: Aug 1st 1996

When Richard and Bobbie Long were newly weds, 26 years ago, they bought a lovely little house in Carrington Crescent, Wendover. Some job changes and two children later, they needed more space so 18 years on they moved to Bryants Acre where they are equally happy.

At first glance, Wendover may not seem the ideal spot for Richard whose main hobby is Mountain Walking. For many years he has been taking the Motorway to the Lakes or North Wales. After a Mountain Leader Training Course in 1985, he ran a part time business taking people Mountain Walking. However, the Chiltern Hills have also worked their gentler charms on him and the rest of the family. Richard was an engineering apprentice and pursued a career in Quality Assurance. He is now a Quality Manager for the Highways Consultancy which designed and is now supervising the works on Wendover Bypass.

Despite his long-ranging and rather time consuming hobby, Richard has always been a conscientious family man. When, in 1989, Wendover Middle School asked parents to volunteer, he trained as a Cycling Awareness Instructor. When he took a bicycle on the road for the first time since childhood he rediscovered that it is not easy to look behind and continue in a straight line! Furthermore, the amount of traffic nowadays can terrify even an experienced adult on only two wheels. This was the start of his voluntary work with youngsters in the village.

In 1991, his daughter, Emma and a friend, Anita, wanted to join the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme at Aylesbury High School. There were 80 applicants for 40 places. Emma was first out of the hat but Anita was not drawn. The two fathers, Richard Long and Alan Glover, gathered information about starting a D of E group in Wendover. They were happy to find they were, in fact, reviving it.

What they were proposing to do was slightly revolutionary because most D of E groups are school based and this would be based at Wendover Youth Centre rather in the way the Grange D of E Scheme operates out of its Youth Centre rather than the school. This arrangement gives the youth of Wendover an opportunity to all work together as a mixed ability group, independent of school attended.

As well as information, Richard and Alan started to gather volunteers to coordinate each element of the Award: Service; Expeditions; Physical Recreation and Skills in addition to a co-ordinator and an administmtor. Alan had achieved his Silver D of E award but noone else had personal experience of the scheme. However, they had careful guidelines with much enthusiasm to keep them all very busy.

The joy of the Award is that candidates are not pushed by the leaders, they work at their own pace. They follow the academic year meeting at 8.00pm on Wednesday evenings in the Wendover Youth Centre. From September to Christmas the candidates have to work using their own initiative.

In January Richard starts a formal training programme which leads to the Expedition. Ian Gosling now helps with this. For many candidates, this is the highlight of the award. Each participant has to carry camping, bedding and feeding equipment and survive a specified length of time: 2 days for Bronze, 3 days for Silver. Candidates for the Gold Expedition go to the County Centre at the Grange School in Aylesbury.

Richard finds working with teenagers in testing circumstances extremely rewarding.

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