A college tutor has become an unlikely local celebrity after her metal detecting hobby earned her tens of thousands of fans on YouTube.
Dawn Chipchase – who teaches at Hopwood Hall College and is better known by her online moniker ‘Digger Dawn’ – began posting videos of her digging escapades six years ago.
She now boasts more than 22,000 subscribers and three million views – with thousands of followers also on Facebook and Instagram.
The mum-of-one is now so well known that she even gets stopped in the street when she’s out in her hometown of Rochdale.
She said: “People see me and shout ‘hey, Digger Dawn!’. It takes a while to get used to. I still find it really weird.”
Dawn’s videos give her followers a glimpse into her quirky hobby as she steps out with her trusted metal detector across Greater Manchester.
People are gripped watching her in action – from hearing what she’s found to seeing where she’s been digging.
She’s now about to lift the lid even further as she launches a part-time course in metal detecting at Hopwood Hall College and University Centre.
The course will give adult learners an opportunity to use top of the range equipment, but Dawn fully expects there to be many additional benefits of attending.
“Metal detecting really is the most soothing activity. It’s like meditating.
“It’s massive in terms of reducing anxiety and stress, so I’d recommend the course for that reason alone.”
Hopwood’s new part-time courses allow staff to share their expertise, with pathways such as the Level 2 Award in Supporting Individuals with Learning Disabilities also on offer from September.
For Dawn, however, the metal detecting course is an opportunity to share a passion that started by chance more than 30 years ago.
“When I was 13-years-old I was out playing hide and seek on a building site when I dug up a George III coin with my foot.
“I can remember really looking at it. It just made me wonder what was in the ground.”
Dawn – who teaches Skills For Life at Hopwood – has since bagged her own stash of rare goodies when out metal detecting.
This includes a 1572 Elizabeth I hammered coin, an 1847 Victorian engagement ring and her prized possession an Edward I penny.
“It’s not about getting rich. I do it for the love of history. I do it for the love of finding stuff.
“I once found a George III half crown coin and it almost made me cry.”
Dawn’s ultimate goal is to find a treasure trove, which she aims to keep working towards as she grows her online fan base.
There are, however, rules around where a person can dig – something Dawn will explain to beginners when she starts her much-anticipated part-time classes in Middleton.
Julia Heap, Principal and CEO of Hopwood Hall College and University Centre, expects the course to be very popular in September.
“Many of our part-time courses are designed to boost people’s careers and help them to climb the career ladder.
“But others – like Dawn’s – can be about learning a new skill, meeting new people and pursuing a passion.
“We’re sure people will really enjoy learning the ropes of metal detecting from someone who’s managed to earn a massive following and has fans all around the world.”