Forest bridge leaves lasting bond


Question: How do you promote "bonding" among your employees when you're a multinational company with workers in 10 countries?

Answer: Bring them to the middle of a forest in west Waterford and set them the task of constructing a timber bridge over a river.

That's what the international company Wm. Canning Plc has just done, and - whatever about the workers bonding - the community around the town of Cappoquin and visitors to the area have been left with a solid-looking footbridge which has improved an important public amenity walk route.

The Canning Group, based in Birmingham, England, engages in research, development and manufacture of specialty chemicals, with a workforce of over 1,000 in 10 countries.

The west Waterford project was devised for it by a consultant company, Alain Christer and Associates, which provides training in leadership, teamwork and management skills - training which takes place away from a normal work and "uses the great outdoors as a source of learning".

Coillte and the Cappoquin Community Development Company (CCDC) were asked to facilitate this project, and a team of 17 people was picked from Canning businesses around the world to take part.

The project chosen was to refurbish an ageing bridge on the Glenshelane river walk, in a Coillte forest which has both deciduous and evergreen trees. The scenic walk is a major local amenity with numerous picnic sites and a scout camp site.

The Canning trainees were supplied with saws, axes and hammers and set to work and the project was completed ahead of time.

It was not all sweat and sawdust, however.

The participants also enjoyed other outdoor activities, including abseiling at Mahon Falls, canoeing on the river Blackwater, hillwalking in the Knockmealdowns, as well as scuba-diving and quad-biking.

The course was reportedly an enormous success, and sources in Cappoquin say they have many more worthwhile tasks lined up if any other group of stressed-out multinational employees wishes to volunteer its services.