This October, Alexandra Grassam, Senior Heritage Consultant at Wessex Archaeology and a volunteer Leader at the Pontefract Branch of the Young Archaeologists’ Club, attended a training weekend for all branch leaders held at the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site. The Young Archaeologists’ Club (YAC) was setup up over 40 years ago and is currently run by the Council for British Archaeology. There are currently 65 branches based across the UK providing regular practical sessions for young people aged between 8 and 17 who are interested in archaeology.  Alexandra began volunteering as a leader with the Pontefract YAC, who are based at Pontefract Castle in West Yorkshire, in 2010 and along with her fellow volunteers provide monthly sessions aimed at teaching the members all about archaeology and heritage in a fun and readily accessible way. 
The training weekends bring together the leaders from the various branches and this time the theme was ‘Industrial Treescapes in Ironbridge Gorge’.  On the Saturday, participants took part in activities with an industrial theme devised and delivered by the Ironbridge YAC branch, which included making suspension bridges strong enough to run a toy train over. On the Saturday night, the leaders were treated to a torch light tour of the Iron Bridge, the world‘s first cast-iron bridge (built in 1779). Sunday morning saw the leaders take to the woods where they were introduced to the Archaeology of Woodlands resource pack. They then had the opportunity to undertake their own woodland survey, providing them with the chance to explore and identify further evidence for the industrial past which the Ironbridge Gorge is famous for. 
The aim of the weekend was to provide an opportunity to get all the branch leaders together to share ideas for activities and their experiences as volunteers. All departed from Ironbridge with lots of interesting and exciting ideas for future sessions. 
By Alexandra Grassam