70+ Years of Learning2023-12-20T21:13:37+00:00

70+ Years of Learning


Betty Stickney started Country Cousins in 1951 in Surrey. She had relatives in France and Italy, who wanted linguistic stays.

Therefore, the ‘Cousins’ were coming to the Country.


John Gale was the Headmaster of Ilfracombe College in North Devon. Betty Stickney asked John and Pat Gale to become their agents in North Devon since the linguistic stays in host families were becoming more and more popular.


Betty, knowing that John Gale was a Headmaster, asked him to arrange language courses in Ilfracombe, using the local college.

Ownership & Vision


Betty Stickney retires and sells the business to John and Pat Gale since English courses with host families in Ilfracombe proved to be very popular.

John and Pat Gale now use the Ilfracombe College during the summer for lessons with students staying with local host families.

Channel School and Second Generation


John and Pat Gale sell the business to John and Tricia Swan (Tricia is Pat’s daughter). That same year, Channel School is purchased, an old nurses residence that they turn into an English school.


Jose Brinkmann, aged 9, attends the first ‘Young Learners’ course in Ilfracombe at Channel School. He likes it so much that he returns every summer for two months until he is 17.


Discovering Devon and Tennis programmes are introduced.


Country Cousins becomes accredited by the British Council.


The Adventure Sports programme is introduced. It is still the most popular sports programme to this day.


Jose starts at York University and works for Country Cousins during the summers.


Riding programme is introduced.

A Dream Come True and Third Generation


Jose Brinkmann and Maribel Cabrera, who were in London working for Ford and American Express, buy the business from John and Tricia Swan.

Jose liked the school so much that he bought it! His dream came true.


Surfing programme is introduced. This is now the second most popular sports programme.


Street Dance programme is introduced.


The PALs scheme is created which proves incredibly successful with the local teenagers.

The three generations get-together to celebrate the 60th anniversary.


Beach Volleyball programme is introduced following the success of that sport in the London Olympic Games that year.


Country Cousins wins the Global ELTons award by the British Council in Local Innovation for the PALs scheme.


Channel School of English becomes a Trinity College Examining Centre.


The Ball Sports programme is introduced (including football, table tennis, tennis and beach volleyball).


The Sea Water Sports programme is introduced.


Country Cousins becomes proudly accredited by Green Standard Schools and Quality English.

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