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Cllimbing a digital rock face
Rock climbing may not seem an obvious route to a new computer training business, but it paved the way for entrepreneurial Banbury web developer John Snelling.
Having trained as a lighting engineer, he had moved into web development, then enrolled for a masters degree in ebusiness at Oxford Brookes University.
Mr Snelling, 34, said: “I got into climbing four years ago when I went along to the sports centre at Brookes and said I would like to have a go at the climbing wall. Over the next couple of years I went from being a complete novice to being an instructor.”
He now spends weekends teaching groups at the Rock Solid Climbing Wall and also runs children's parties there. He is also qualified to teach at single-pitch crags, taking people to the Wye or the Peak District.
“I had spent ten years building websites and I realised I wanted a change. I loved climbing so much that I wanted to share my interest with everyone. I also develop websites, so when I realised that I really enjoyed teaching it seemed natural to combine the two.”
His business, The Computer School, offers courses for all ages and abilities, from ‘Beginners’ Guide to Computing’ to ‘Updating an Existing Website’ as well as teaching how to make the most of new developments in the digital world such as Skype, Twitter and Facebook.
He has equipped a small office in Banbury with PCs for his courses, which also explain how to use Microsoft Office for word-processing and Excel spreadsheets.
Mr Snelling said: “While a number of other computing courses exist, they often follow a strict textbook curriculum with the only aim being achieving the relevant qualification.
"But since everyone approaches learning in different ways and has their own goals and ambitions I wanted to create a relaxed, friendly environment and to work on personal computing goals rather than a rigid, inflexible curriculum.
He added: "The group sessions are for a maximum of eight to allow plenty of time for practical application and to be flexible in the approach to learning.
“The aim is to create confidence in using a computer and to open up its possibilities.”
The Computer School offers group and one-to-one lessons and ‘computer buddies’ sessions where participants can bring their own project or problem and get support and advice.