Back in November, Mick came all the way from Australia to be the Hangar Liverpool Centre Manager.
No not really, he came from Southport… But wherever he came from, we’re glad he did! I first met Mick at the Hangar UV night where – despite the mayhem – he was a master of zen. Naturally, I seized the opportunity to find out more about this organisational wizard…
That's no Scouse accent you've got there Mick! What's your story?
Don’t let the Australian accent fool you! I was born in Scotland, and dragged around Scottish crags until my dad was offered a job in Australia.
When he went for a bit of a recce, he discovered… well, firstly that the weather is much better over there, and that the climbing isn’t so bad either, so the whole family emigrated out to the Blue Mountains. I still have family in the UK, so it’s always been a bit of a home from home – moving back didn’t feel quite so far away!
You're not the first to tell us great things about the Australian weather! But - more importantly - what's the climbing like over there?
Climbing in Australia is awesome. The most noticeable difference is the weather: you’re not spending the week hoping for good weather on your day off and timing just isn’t as an issue. The Blue Mountains are amazing for climbing, there are about 50 – 60 crags within an hour or so. It’s hardly surprising that there’s such an alternative, laid-back lifestyle there.
So how did you end up in Liverpool?
Back in 2010, I moved over to London to work on some projects. After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing between the UK and Australia, my partner and I settled in Southport.
After London, living in the North West felt like exactly what I needed! People always ask why I moved here from Australia, but the accessibility of the outdoors in England is a huge draw! In Liverpool, we’re so close to the Lake District, Wales, The Dales, The Peaks…
What kind of projects were you working on in London?
My background is in tourism and hospitality, so in London I was working on some major attractions, like the London Bridge Experience. Back in Australia I worked in a range of hotels and tourist attractions in business management and spent a lot of time looking at how to make businesses sustainable.
Ooh, any we might have heard of?
I worked on some pretty large scale tourist attractions, one of my favourites was probably Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame – a charity-owned tourist centre. We looked at how we could make the charity as sustainable, inclusive, and accessible as possible.
I’ve been involved planning some pretty extreme events too, stuff like rodeos and concerts. Rodeos can get pretty wild, but I’ve learned that a lot of forward planning helps you stay zen and enjoy the event itself.
These are both experiences that I’m hoping to bring over to the Climbing Hangar. Events have always been important here, so I’d really love to have more of them – you can’t have too much of a good thing!
Ahh, so that explains how are the embodiment of calm when running UV climbing night! How did you get to know the Hangar?
When I first moved here I was looking for like-minded mates and somewhere to climb – the first port of call for that will always be a climbing centre.
The Climbing Hangar really stood out. It feels like a place to climb and meet people because the vibe is so comfortable and welcoming. The openness of the staff seems to have transferred over to the customers, and you end up with a really special vibe.
That culture kind of swung it for me. I always seemed to find myself at the Hangar, despite being an equal distance from loads of other climbing walls.
And now you're part of the team!
Yeah! I’d been climbing here for 10 – 12 months when I saw the job. At the time, I was looking for the ideal role, something that involved working in an industry I cared about and merging my lifestyle with my career. I saw the Climbing Hangar advert online and thought: ‘this is THE job’.
It’s intimidating when you think something is the perfect fit. It’s so hard not to get excited, but the more I spoke to the Hangar team the more I felt like we had the same vision and outlook – it was impossible not to get carried away in my head!
You've been running the centre for a while now, what kinds of projects do you have in the pipeline?
I’m really keen to introduce more people to climbing, clearly and comfortably, and help them to feel part of the community here.
We’ve really got a great thing going on here. It would be amazing to foster the incredible community that has come together around the Hangar by offering more opportunities for people to get involved and socialise.
What kind of opportunities are you thinking?
Being an inclusive centre has always been our strong point, but my vision is for the Hangar to be a place where people don’t just come to train and climb, but to drop in to see some friendly faces, grab a feed and a beer, and chill out for a few hours. Somewhere to meet people who are looking for similar opportunities to them.
I’d really love to organise gatherings that aren’t strictly climbing related, like getting in local craft breweries for beer tasting evenings – we all like beer, right?
Er, a thousand times yes…what's so different about events that aren't climbing related?
Events like these put us all on a level playing field: no matter why or how hard we climb, we can all chill out together at the end of the session or on a rest day.
Community is something that the Hangar does naturally, but we reckon we could do it even better!
You’re right about the community part, and we do love beer… Thanks Mick! I’m looking forward to getting involved!
Climbing Hangar Rodeo anyone?