A HEADTEACHER of a special needs school has bought a Dales youth hostel with plans to provide work placements for young people with learning disabilities.

The youth hostel in Hawes, Wensleydale, was bought by David Miller, headteacher of a special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) school in Buckinghamshire, for £100,000.

The youth hostel is popular with groups of walkers and mountain bikers and has provided budget accommodation as a base for exploring the Yorkshire Dales since 1972. It will reopen to guests on 17 May when Covid restrictions are relaxed.

Mr Miller, 57, originally from Newcastle, plans to continue in his role as a headteacher, and has recruited local hospitality professional Steve Bussey to manage the hostel.

He intends to introduce work experience placements for young people with learning disabilities from 2022.

Mr Miller said: “I know from my work as a headteacher that workplace opportunities for young people with learning difficulties are nowhere near as widely available as they should be.

"At Hawes Youth Hostel we hope to be one of the few businesses linking up with SEND schools and colleges nationally to provide short and long-term placements for 18-25-year-olds in areas such as housekeeping, catering and grounds maintenance. We will also be looking into the prospect of employing a full-time tutor to oversee the work experience programme.

“This kind of opportunity can be transformational for the lives of these young people and I see this as my chance to create something really positive that can continue to make an impact long after my time, in the form of a charitable trust.”

Michael Peel, sales manager at Ernest Wilson, said: “As the new owner of Hawes Youth Hostel, David’s plans are truly inspiring and demonstrate the ingenuity and creativity that are often the hallmark of small business owners.

“When a business changes hands it’s an opportunity to open a new chapter for an organisation, and widening the scope of this successful hospitality business to help youngsters with learning difficulties is a fantastic idea.

"In our experience, the post-pandemic demand for businesses is outstripping supply."