Peter Gaines was originally appointed as chair of YHA in 2015 to lead the charity’s board of trustees.
Commenting on his priorities as Chair, Peter said: “YHA is a leading national charity with the primary aim of reaching out to all, but especially young people with challenging lives and their families. Running parallel with this mission is the need to operate an organisation which is financially sustainable and fully modernised which is why I am delighted we are able to invest so extensively in YHA Bath and the South West.
“By the time I step down as Chair I want us to have laid the foundations for the YHA of the future: confident, outward looking, modern and widely recognised for our fantastic accommodation and the brilliant work we do to support young people. Over the next two years, I will be working with the Board to complete our investment programme across the network; modernise our governance and find new ways to engage with all who stay, join, or support us.
“This investment in Bath typifies the modern YHA of the future. Bath is a popular destination for both school groups and young people and their families and it was important to me that we brought the Youth Hostel up to the world class accommodation standards now associated with the YHA network.”
As part of the investment the popular Youth Hostel, which is based on Bathwick Hill, has received planning permission to build a new bedroom annex, which will bring the total number of beds to 133; an increase of 12 beds. The bedrooms within the annex will all be en-suite and a further five en-suite bedrooms will be created in the existing building. Additionally, there will be 11 double bedrooms to cater for the families and couples travel market.
The main building, a stunning listed Italian-style mansion set in large private gardens, will undergo a total refurbishment and upgrade bringing it up to the standards expected from visitors. A new cycle store and guest laundry will also be created, and all bedroom doors will have secure electronic key access for greater peace of mind for the many school groups that stay at YHA Bath each year.
The Youth Hostel is currently closed ahead of work starting in January and will re-open again in April 2018 following the refurbishment of the main building. Construction of the annex will begin in March and is expected to be open in September later in the year.
YHA Bath is one of three Youth Hostels in Somerset operated by YHA. Further investment is being made by the Youth Hostelling charity in the South West at YHA Perranporth in Cornwall and YHA Swanage in Dorset in 2018.
Since 2010 YHA has invested more than £30 million into its 160-strong network of hostels, creating modern, comfortable award-winning accommodation. Nearly two million overnight stays were taken with YHA last year, with more than 500,000 under 26 year olds benefiting from a visit to a Youth Hostel, helping YHA reach out and support children and their families living in challenging circumstances to access positive life changing experiences.