It is a story of triumph over personal adversity – and another example of the beneficial effect a challenging outdoor environment can have on a young person’s life.

Aaron Rogers


By his own admission, Aaron Rogers, 17, from Newent, lacked self-esteem and confidence partly due, no doubt, to a difficult home life. As a result he struggled at school and found it difficult to make friends.

And it could not have helped that both Aaron’s parents were substance misusers – although his mother has been ‘clean’ for several years – and that his father passed away recently. With the added responsibility of looking after a parent, younger sister and brother, he drifted into anti-social behaviour and low-level crime.

Aaron told the police,

“I live with my mum and she struggles financially with day to day necessities, so there is no room for luxuries such as family trips and breaks. I am currently taking the position as ‘man of the house’ and trying to keep my family safe but sometimes I would like an opportunity to just be a teenager with a teenager’s interests. 

“I would love to widen my friendship group and meet other people but in Newent there are very little opportunities for someone like me to achieve something like this. I would like to be more independent amongst my peers in a safe environment, make mistakes and learn from them. Build my confidence and learn to make better choices for the future ahead”.

So when local PCSO Tania Shuttleworth and local mentor Kay Selywn nominated Aaron for a five day Outward Bound course through the Police Bursary Scheme, it proved a turning point.

PCSO Shuttleworth said,

“I hoped the course would give Aaron direction, help build his confidence and open his mind to things he’d never experienced before and it’s achieved all that and more. 

“Aaron has not only built new friendships, something he found very difficult to do before, he’s also learned to communicate confidently with adults to help build his self-esteem”.

Aaron now attends The Military College Physical Training course at Millbrook Academy and with the support of his mentor completed the basic Outward Bound course earlier this year. He has just completed the more advanced ‘Skills for life’ course at Loch Eil in Scotland.

The course instructor said,

“Arran has developed massively over the course.  Confidence and self-belief had grown to a huge level that will benefit him in the future”.

Links between the Police and Outward Bound Association go back many years. It is a partnership funded by Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl as part of his Police and Crime Plan commitment towards helping young people like Aaron become responsible adults.

Mr. Surl said,

“Outward Bound shows once again how a vulnerable young person can be taken out of their day-to-day environment and given a chance to build confidence and discover qualities they never knew they had.  

“I congratulate Aaron on what he has already achieved and wish him and his family well for the future”.

Aaron Rogers, centre left, took part in the Cheltenham Half Marathon to raise sponsorship money to help pay for his outward bound course

PC Nicki Dannatt, co-ordinator of the outward bound bursary scheme and  part of the constabulary’s public protection bureau – said,

“‘Skills for life’ is a unique, once in a lifetime personal development course which includes two multi-day expeditions, camping deep in the mountains or on sandy shores. It’s a far cry from what Aaron is used to in Newent.

“This is the whole point of Outward Bound. It takes young people out of their comfort zone and in giving them more personal responsibility broadens their horizons. 

“Two of our staff also take part and join in with all the activities, which we hope fosters a positive perception of the police the other young people will have for the rest of their lives”.

Alan Hoar, Chair of The Gloucestershire Outward Bound Association, said,

“Aaron made real progress during his course at Aberdovey. I’m confident that his development will continue at Loch Eil, providing him with the skills and resilience he needs. Our partnership with the Constabulary and the PCC continues to make a real difference to the lives of individuals and our community.”

With additional funds from The Outward Bound Trust/The Gloucestershire Outward Bound Association and The Police Crime Commissioner, numbers for next year’s courses are increasing from 20 to 30. The closing date for nominations is Friday 23 October.

To find out more about Outward Bound courses and how to apply to join one, go to

Outward Bound broadens young people’s horizons