Martin Davidson: Challenge is what Outward Bound strives to do – for youngsters and ourselves

Martin Davidson, Scottish Director, Outward Bound Trust
Martin Davidson, Scottish Director, Outward Bound Trust
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Last year the Outward Bound Trust challenged ourselves to become ­bigger, better and bolder than we have ever been. After all, we ask the young people who take part in our residential programmes to seek ­challenge and push themselves ­outside their own comfort zones, so it’s only fitting and correct that we do the same as an organisation and as individuals.

Personally, I was delighted that our fundraising efforts resulted in the start of the redevelopment of the Loch Eil Centre and tearing down the old stores barn to make way for the new.

This year we are starting phase one of our dormitory refurbishment project and in March we will open our new equipment centre. All this means more than builders and ­contractors, it is a symbolic illustration of our commitment to working with young people in Scotland, now and with future generations.

In June, we were delighted to host Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Employability and Training to Loch Eil, so that we could demonstrate our work with apprentices first-hand.

Klaus Mayer of Education Scotland attended the Skills for Life Award presentations in August and left a strong advocate of our work. ­September saw the first intake from our Dundee City Council 2017/2018 programme, which we deliver in partnership with SkillForce to help pupils improve their aspirations and academic performance as part of Dundee’s response to the Attainment Challenge.

For the year ahead, we’re committed to being an active partner of the Year of Young People 2018 and some of the work that we’ll be doing in the months ahead include fundraising, special events and also sourcing additional opportunities for young scots to ­participate in our Skills for Life Award.

We’ve teamed up with the charity Young Scot to offer two free places on the award scheme this summer. This is open to any young person in Scotland who wishes to embrace this opportunity, more information can be found through www.rewards.youngscot.org. Our first special event of 2018 took place on recently on 18 January when we hosted a fundraising dinner at Stirling Castle to launch our Invest in the Future appeal. Guests generously contributed to our new appeal fund. We hope to raise £75,000 to enable a further 500 ­disadvantaged young people to be given the opportunity to develop the confidence, the aspiration and the skills critically needed to fulfil their potential now and in the future.

We were inspired and supported on the evening by actor James ­Cosmo MBE, who has appeared in many films and television series such as Highlander, Braveheart and Game of Thrones.

Mr Cosmo was joined by Edinburgh-based mountaineer Mollie Hughes, who last year became the youngest woman in the world to summit Mount Everest from both the north and south sides. Both special guests provided entertaining speeches on their childhood, life challenges and motivations and the importance of instilling self-belief and resilience in young people.

Also present were rising young Scottish classical music stars the Ayoub Sisters, who took time out of their schedule to give an exquisite performance during the evening. Megan Lennie & Eilidh Canavan from Liberton High School in ­Edinburgh shared their experiences of the life-changing personal ­journey that they experienced whilst taking part in an Outward Bound programme at our Loch Eil centre and explained the lasting impact it had on them both.

Our work with schools across ­Scotland continues to have a lasting positive impact on the young participants. Widely available research, as well as the information collected by the Trust contained within our Social Impact Report proves there is a direct correlation between the development of social and emotional skills in childhood and outcomes in later life, including mental and physical health, life satisfaction, emotional well-being, educational attainment and work place effectiveness.

During this Year of Young People in Scotland, the Trust will continue to strive to support and develop skills in an increasing number of young people at pivotal times in their lives. To donate to The Trust’s Invest In The Future Appeal or for more information contact me at martin.davidson@outwardbound.org.uk

Martin Davidson, Scottish director, the Outward Bound Trust.