Hostel plans spring ahead

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A SPRING opening for Alnwick’s new youth hostel is on the cards, following the appointment of two key staff members.

Work to refurbish the former social services office on Green Batt is gathering pace after its purchase by Alnwick Community Development Trust, which is leading the project to turn it into a four-star hostel offering en-suite accommodation in 15 rooms for up to 57 visitors.

The premises will also include both in-house and self catering facilities, as well as a meeting room for hire that will also double up as a classroom for groups using the hostel.

And the first appointments have now been made – Andrew Clarkson has accepted the position of manager and will be helped in his new role by Nick Hutchinson as assistant manager.

Both have strong Northumberland connections and have worked for the Youth Hostel Association (YHA) in the past.

Andrew recently moved back to the North East and has over 14 years experience with the YHA in various roles, most recently as hostel and area manager in the South East.

He said: “I was keen to get back into the accommodation business, which I love, and was looking around for the right opportunity. We fell in love with north Northumberland when visiting many years ago and have wanted to make it our home ever since. I am delighted to accept the post and am looking forward to the challenge, as well as to being the first manager of the new youth hostel.”

Nick, who has also worked in a number of different YHA hostels around the country including Elterwater in the Lake District, Pen-y-Pass,in Wales and more recently at Once Brewed on Hadrian’s Wall, is a keen cook and passionate about sourcing and using local produce, something which will be part of the hostel’s ethos.

Trust manager Geoff Watson said: “We are very pleased with these new appointments and with the calibre of applicants. The builders are on site, work is progressing well and we are on target for opening in May following a slight delay caused by the snow and bad weather which hindered progress somewhat in the run up to Christmas.

“Now back on track, the new appointees will be taking a hands-on role in the development of the project as it moves forwards and I’m sure their experience will prove invaluable.”