"I cant imagine life without climbing so we had to do something to enable me to keep training."
Northumberland climber, Fred Williams
A £1,000 Inspiration Grant from the charity will take his development to the next level, ensuring he can learn from some of the country’s best coaches in the Precision Climbing Team.
Fred’s aim is to ultimately make the Great Britain Olympic team – next summer’s Games coming a little too early though for the 13-year-old whose passion for the sport coincides with it becoming an Olympic event for the first time.
The Coronavirus pandemic scuppered Fred’s training plans at climbing wall facilities in Newcastle, Leeds and Edinburgh, but he and his supportive parents, Katherine and Tony, looked closer to their Alnwick home to ensure he was able to practice the complex techniques the sport demands.
“I can’t imagine life without climbing so we had to do something to enable me to keep training,” said Fred. “During the first lockdown I spent a lot of time climbing the walls of our sandstone cottage which was really fun, learning new abseiling skills out of the window and building my strength on my training wall in the loft.”
From being a toddler, Fred showed an aptitude for climbing and aged just eight won his first competition. The Bernicia Foundation grant will now allow Fred to access a new coaching programme with the Precision Climbing Team, giving him access to elite coaching and bespoke training plans.
“The foundation grant is amazing,” said Katherine. “Fred is ready to step up his training but without a new coach, it is unlikely that he will reach his full potential.
“Next year, if all goes to plan, Fred will have the opportunity to compete in Europe. It is very reassuring to know we will have Precision Climbing supporting him.”
At 4ft 9ins tall, Alnwick Duchess Community High School pupil Fred is competing against teenagers of far bigger stature, but his tenacity and drive has won the admiration of coaches, frequently placing him in the top five of his age group in national competitions.
Fred says that coaching from Precision Climbing is helping him to structure his training better, train more effectively and develop new techniques. He commented, “I’m already starting to see the benefit and I can’t wait to see where I will be in a year.”
The rapidly growing sport comprises three disciplines – bouldering, lower climbs with no ropes but very powerful and technically demanding, lead where the climber is attached to a rope to climb higher and longer and speed where competitors race to the top of a climb.
The North East is full of young talent from sporting skills and academia to creative flair and performing arts, but lack of finance, personal circumstances, health problems or learning difficulties often mean young people sometimes need support to achieve their full potential. Fred’s climbing quest is being supported by The Bernicia Foundation Inspiration Grant.
For more information and how to apply please see: www.berniciafoundation.com