From outdoor adventures to the Porthcawl Elvis Festival, Bridgend's coastline offers an abundance of family friendly events all year round. SeaQuest offer a range of outdoor learning opportunities in Porthcawl, helping to familiarise families and children with their coastal environment. We spoke to SeaQuest's Anne Davidson to find out what's coming up along the coast and all there is for families to learn on the beaches of Bridgend.
What made you want to work along the coast in Porthcawl?
I started out by doing a lot of volunteering. I would always be litter picking and as a cub leader I would take groups onto the beach to get them outdoors. I've always believed outdoor learning is so important and Porthcawl offers a great spot for it.
What makes the coast around Porthcawl so special?
The coast around Porthcawl is so varied - We've got the sand dunes at Kenfig which are brimming with rare species, we've got rock pools, beaches for surfing and quiet spaces if you just want some peace to unwind. With so many different beaches, it's never boring!
What coastal activities do you like to do in the area in your spare time?
Even though I work on the coast, the majority of my spare time is spent on the beach. My children are involved in surf life saving so we spend most of our time on the coast. The area is actually really unique for surf lifesaving - We've got four clubs in the area and our club, Sker and Pink Bay Surf Lifesaving Club, are Welsh champions at the moment. It's important that children living in a coastal environment have beach safety knowledge.
Could you tell me a bit about SeaQuest and your work on Bridgend's beaches?
We're committed to enriching learning outside - We want everyone to investigate and be curious but in a way that will have as little impact on the habitats as possible.
During the school holidays we hold a variety of different sessions for children. Our 'Beach Discoveries' are all about animal habitats on the beach - We explore the rock pools, demonstrate how to observe the animals carefully and put them back where they come from. We had an octopus show up on the beach the other week so we all went and looked at that! We also host 'Coastal crusader' workshops which include beach cleans and litter picks.
What exciting events can visitors expect on the coast this summer?
We're really excited for the Cragen Sea Monster's arrival on 16th April. The theatre group, Clean Seas Cragen, has made a 20m sea monster which will be coming into the harbour in the afternoon. There will be lots going on all afternoon from beach cleans to family fun, 1-5pm.
How can we help people reduce plastic waste on our beaches?
Litter isn't always the focus but its always at the back of what we do. Our big focus is on outdoor learning. We want to prevent litter and plastic waste from becoming more of a problem by addressing it before it becomes more of a problem. If children can understand and enjoy their environment, they won't want to harm it.
What advice would you give to visitors who want to respect their coastal environment when they come to Porthcawl?
We always tell the children we want them to take nothing home but memories and photographs. We want them to leave nothing but their footprints!
What outdoor learning experiences can visitors get involved in?
We are running a swim safe scheme with the RNLI and Swim Safe Wales this year which visitors can get involved in. We provide basic swim safety skills for children and on 15th June we'll be hosting a session which will be open to the public. We'll also be in schools 13th-14th June.
What else is on offer for visitors?
We put on a variety of workshops for visitors in a building called the TS Dragon. These help people engage with topics in the ocean, from craft activities to film screenings. Visitors can keep an eye on Facebook page for details of events.