Local electrician looking for work became a Viking in spectacular live show
Published : 10 May, 2023
An electrician who popped down to 11Arches Park looking for work on the construction site was so taken with the set-up that he became a Viking in the spectacular annual show which is performed there.
Grant Younger, from Bishop Auckland, headed to Flatts Farm seven years ago to inquire about potential contract work and was so impressed with the preparation for Kynren that he began a long-term love affair with the show.
He said: “I went down there looking for work but while I was there, the grounds keeper at the time saw me and shouted ‘We’ve got another Viking!’. The next thing I knew, I was being shown around the site and the Roman shields and Viking ship piqued my interest straight away.
“I had a bit of a teaser as to what Kyren was all about and then it was a case of finding out about the rest for myself. I’ve been passionate about it ever since – I can see myself being a part of it forever, they’ll have to carry me out in a box.”
Grant became a volunteer and helped to build some stone walls and doorways in the early days of the epic show, which first launched in 2016. He also built the Blacksmith’s Forge, which later formed the heart of the Viking Village.
Having spent some time doing DIY, carrying out running repairs on the show’s various sets and huge number of props, he was then asked to join the diving team together with his friend and fellow volunteer Iain Wilby.
“I’ve never looked back. I’ve since been on a diving holiday with Iain and some of the other lads, which was one of the best things I’ve done. We went to Lanzarote and explored a wreck and an underwater cave called the Cathedral.
“We’re always training because even once you’ve gained your qualification, you have to keep diving otherwise it lapses. As volunteers we are given the opportunity to do more and more training, so we’re on site as often as we can so it becomes second nature.”
Grant and his fellow divers – of which there are around eight to ten at any one time – perform one of the show-stopping moments in the 90-minute spectacular.
They take their seats on a Viking ship which is submerged five metres beneath the surface of a lake, where they wait for five minutes before dramatically rising out of the water as part of an invasion stunt.
There is often very little visibility in the lake, particularly with a current abundance of brown algae, so the divers are reliant on underwater LED lighting and hours and hours of repetitive training in order to orientate themselves.
Grant, who travels all over the country fitting shop fronts for trade retailer Screwfix, always drives back to Bishop Auckland for his weekend diving training.
“I absolutely love it. We’re all volunteers – or Archers as we’re known - and we’re like one big family. I’ve made so many friends and opened so many doors since I’ve been doing it. It’s hard to put into words just how much it means to me,” Grant added.
And not only has he made scores of new friends, another Archer has fired Cupid’s arrow through his heart. Ruth Stapleton, who is also a performer in the show, had known Grant for several years before they finally got together four years ago.
Grant’s fellow Viking and good friend Iain is a primary school teacher. The 43 year-old, whose wife Jan is also part of the show team at Kynren, shares Grant’s love of the show and their role in it.
“Being a diver focuses you, calms you. There is lots of time to self-reflect, it’s just you and your conscience. I’ve done other things before like football and archery but this is like nothing else.
“The lake scene is one of the most dangerous aspects of the show so it gives us a real sense of kudos. We’re a bunch of guys who like stunts, fight scenes and being under water, so diving is a real pleasure,” said Iain.