Hostelling Scotland

Board Election 2019

Board election

Candidate Profiles & Ballot Paper

Click on any of the Nominees names to view their profiles

A keen hillwalker who was first introduced to hostelling as a Scout in the 1980s, I first became involved in the governance of Hostelling Scotland in 2010. I have been a director since February 2013 and a member of the audit and risk committee since June 2013. I served as a director of Mountaineering Scotland between 2011 and 2015. A qualified lawyer, my day job sees me draft legislation. Those roles, taken with my five and a half years' on the board of Hostelling Scotland itself, give me a wealth of experience of the sorts of strategic, financial and governance issues which non-profit organisations face. I believe that the difficult decisions that we have had to take have delivered an organisation that has improved its offer, become stronger financially and developed some of the agility and flexibility required to compete in the modern world. I have been very pleased to be able to contribute, in a small way, to successes such as the acquisition of Portree and the refurbishment of Glen Nevis. And I have, of course, shared in the pain when things have not always gone the way that we wanted. We are a special organisation with a brilliant ethos – I still get a buzz from seeing people of all ages for various places sharing one of our self-catering kitchens in a remote location! But we need to continue to "up our game". This will involve some major projects, but most of the work is about undertaking a quiet revolution in terms of facilities and service across the network. If re-elected, this would be my final three-year term on the Board. I promise that I would use it to continue to fight for the bright future that I believe that we can have.

My career to date has been within the hospitality industry with my main focus, for the last 11 years, being around Innovation. It is this skill and experience of exploring ways to enhance, develop, expand and diversify, that I believe I can bring to the role of a Trustee for the SYHA. This innovative focus, combined with my Hotel, Catering and Institutional Management qualification from Queen Margaret University College, Edinburgh has led to a variety of roles. These include a senior advisory role for Harrods Restaurants and Food Halls, Technical Officer with Dundee's Environmental Health Department for advice and enforcement, and Innovation and New Product Development Manager for Subway restaurants throughout Europe. These roles taught me the importance of offering knowledge and insight, but for change to occur, collaborative, practical working is essential.

Current areas which I believe could be considered are:

  • Focusing on appropriate engagement of both member and potential new members, ensuring a strong and active membership, especially amongst the younger generations
  • Ensure the hostels form a compelling offer in a very competitive hospitality landscape by continuing to deliver value, great customer experiences and also through a new innovation programme. This would develop new processes and offers to ensure that the hostels' offer is appropriate for current and new users.

I've always had a love of the outdoors, having climbed over 80 Munro's and instructed Scuba diving within Perth's Sub-Aqua Club. Also, living in Scotland resulted in many fond memories of hostel stays which led to further visits to hostels in a variety of countries. This opportunity to experience how other organisations operate has given me insight into what could be considered for SYHA. Now living near Oxford, the Munro's are a little less accessible, so for the last few years I've been undertaking multi-day endurance events and challenges. These have included two back to back marathons across the Sahara Desert and a 100km non-stop endurance race amongst others. I recently left full time employment and now work in freelance product development so if successful, I have the time to dedicate to this role. I feel very excited about potentially working alongside the other Trustees and SYHA operational teams, to help shape the future of Hostelling Scotland. I believe that both my professional history and personal experiences would bring a diversified way of approaching innovation within the organisation and very much look forward to this opportunity.

The opportunity to become an elected Trustee is driven by a passion to enable all sections of society to truly engage with the life changing rewards of a hostelling experience within the most inspirational and iconic locations in Scotland. Both my professional and personal life has been massively influenced by the opportunity to work with young people and their families from many different experiences and backgrounds, enabling me to really understand the importance of relationship building, collaboration, and trust from which lasting values and a vision become embedded. Being involved in many areas of education all my working life I have developed a very proactive set of skills and beliefs which use the combined strengths of health, recreation, and education as entitlements to enable us all to reach our goals and potential. So, using the rich history and authenticity of the SYHA as its base, I believe that we now have the unique opportunity to move forward and create those more personalised experiences for the 21st century, and provide the clear structures to enable this to happen. I believe we can bring more people together through this process, whereby barriers of cost, accessibility and equity are at the forefront of our future mindset and planning. This drive for delivering excellence initially comes with the first point of contact. I think we can, therefore, embrace and seamlessly integrate social media and other technologies into how we communicate with existing members/guests, as well reaching new groups. The lasting positive memories I have had when visiting many hostels within the SYHA is that although each one has a distinct character, they all have an underlying quality based upon comfort, warmth, cleanliness and safety. This should not be underestimated, being driven by the highest standards which the staff working in the SYHA clearly embodies. As a Trustee I would ensure that this commitment to providing outstanding service would continue and indeed be enhanced. This involves investing in our people, providing joined training, and investing in their talents. As a Head Teacher within some of the most amazing parts of the Highlands I have seen at first-hand how our SYHA hostels have been transformational in connecting with whole communities, providing space, challenges, and a sense of belonging which sustains them over a lifetime. I would love to now share this unique insight and experience with the whole SYHA family as one of your new Trustees.

The first hostel I stayed in was Fintry. Bus from Glasgow to Campsie Glen then a brilliant walk over the Campsie Fells to drop down into Fintry before dark. I was ten. I used hostels through my school and student years to get out into wilderness areas all over Scotland. Back then using hostels was a financial necessity. Now, I use hostels by choice. The last hostel I stayed in was Borrowdale, last week. My son had just run the Derwentwater 10 mile race and when we got back to the hostel we got involved with a party of Liverpool hillwalkers (who had just finished 5 peaks) for a highly entertaining pool tournament. I am now 61. For the record the old men won the pool tournament. Next week I will be in an expensive, quite luxurious hotel in Edinburgh on business. It will be OK, but I can guarantee, not even a fraction of the enjoyment of staying in Borrowdale YHA. My only reason for wanting to be a Trustee is to put something back after 50 odd years of having a great time. I have some skills and experience that could be useful and they are at the disposal of the SYHA. My vision for the future - location of hostels is key. They enable access to great places. Keep modernising, but don't lose the character of some of the great buildings. Relate hostels to outdoor pursuits, develop partnerships and work with others to be the accommodation provider that enables things like sailing schools, climbing schools and National Trails to thrive.

I have been looking for a suitable charity trustee role that would allow me to combine my love for travelling, with my professional expertise in the Data domain, in order to make a meaningful contribution to the lives of my fellow travellers (especially those with young families). I was very excited to hear of the opportunity to join SYHA as a trustee, an organisation that has not only stood the test of time, but has also adapted to the increasing challenges of the data-driven digital economy of the current industrial revolution. I would like to offer my services to join the board of trustees, as I think that I can add a lot of value by not only bringing my extensive data skills (which is not a very common skillset in the marketplace), but also my diverse background. I have worked in many industries, including Financial Services, Food & Beverage, and Retail. I have also worked across Europe, Middle East, and Africa region. In my opinion, SYHA immediate priorities should include finding ways to not only use the data that it already has, but also identifying other available data sources (Open & Commercial), that can drive increased sales, better customer experience, more efficiencies in the management of properties, higher staff engagement and happiness, and new as yet undiscovered innovative opportunities. Data is the new oil and any organisation that does not embrace the data-led digital economy will face significant challenges in the future. If given the opportunity, I would commit to working with my fellow trustees to constructively challenge and support the executive to build a business that can not only grow and survive, but instead thrive in this new normal of constant change and disruption.

I am proud and honoured to have been a trustee/director of Hostelling Scotland since 2013. I've enjoyed having the opportunity to contribute to the progress and success of Hostelling Scotland. I would very much like to continue as a trustee, utilising the knowledge I've built up over the last few years to deliver the strategy and further the charitable aims. I am keen to work with other Board members and the Senior Management Team to develop the property portfolio, taking the investment and renovation programme forward across the network for both our flagship and heritage hostels. Communications with members and customers is also an area I think is very important for 2019 to ensure we continue to understand and meet the needs of both. Finally, as Chair of the Governance Committee, I am pleased at the strength and breadth of Board composition we have built over the past few years. I am keen to work with other Committee members to continue succession planning to ensure that we have good plans in place to ensure the long-term success of Hostelling Scotland.

I first visited a Highland hostel in my late teens. This opened my eyes to pristine water and unspoiled landscape making a stark contrast to the noisy and dirty streets of home. Scotland's natural beauty taught me directly and emphatically the importance of protecting wild and open spaces and entirely transformed my urban outlook. That hostel visit made me an environmentalist. It also give me a first experience of absolute silence and a night sky so filled with stars that I couldn't focus my eyes. These memories have stayed with me, and more than 45 years later I am still grateful. I also very much appreciate that SYHA leadership – staff and Board – are committed to ensuring that hostelling remains an affordable option so that all-comers have access to truly wild, beautiful, and open spaces. Another initiative I value is the Hostelling Scotland Explorer Fund which in 2018 sponsored 160 disadvantaged young people to visit Scottish hostels, including youth who are disabled, asylum seekers, urban poor, and young carers. SYHA seems consistently forward-looking with one eye on gaining young members from diverse backgrounds, and the other on adhering to its own values when planning for the future. It's a pleasure to follow SYHA news as it forms partnerships and launches programmes that yield immediate bookings, promote hostelling in general, while also creating new networks and gaining members. These initiatives are why I would like to apply for election to the Board. As an educator, I know just how much time it takes to do all the background work of researching new award schemes, identifying possible funding opportunities, and studying potential partners to find a good match. I would bring to the Board almost 40 years of experience as a teacher, writer, and advisor to educational charities with knowledge of grant-giving sources and a network of contacts that help me stay in touch with new initiatives. For example, SYHA in partnership with schools ran a science-focused programme with sponsorship that allowed disadvantaged students to take part as well. Government is keen to encourage these so-called STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. I would like to use my training, experience, and contacts to support this kind of initiative as one way to ensure the hostelling network flourishes for the use of future generations. Serving on the SYHA Board would enable this, and also allow me to repay something of what hostelling has given to me.

I started hostelling in the scouts and was still using hostels when completing the 283 Munros 50 years later. I retired as a chartered surveyor two years ago and have enjoyed the last few years as a trustee with Hostelling Scotland. This has been a huge learning experience for me personally but, equally, I have contributed to all discussions leading to a major property disposal, £2m redevelopment of Glen Nevis Youth Hostel, the rebranding of SYHA, implementation of the new Hostelling Scotland website, planning the next major redevelopment and continuing the commitment to youth and volunteer involvement. I have previously been involved in the voluntary sector in various roles within the Scout Movement including Assistant Area Commissioner (Special needs) in Glasgow. I have always worked in a team environment, considering options and the views of all concerned and planning the best implementation strategy available. I set up my own practice as a chartered surveyor in 1999 and my activities focused on cost reduction services mainly to retail clients. This has included utility procurement and management, telecoms, water services, reactive maintenance and generally seeking best value whether in property running costs e.g. rent and rates, utilities, building maintenance or construction. Latterly, I added Energy Performance certification to my qualifications. I also occupy a role with the Albion Trust which combines my interest/experience in property with the support of voluntary organisations. Albion Trust run a serviced office block for charities in a converted school of 30,000 sq ft, with the adjacent former Lockhart Memorial church converted to meeting rooms and a conference suite. I was instrumental in the planning, organisation and project management to achieve this very successful outcome. I hope to continue with my support to Hostelling Scotland and would like to see continuing refurbishment of key hostels, an expansion of the network to increase the number of bed spaces on offer, implementation of a building fabric repair and maintenance programme, and generally to ensure that we have an environment where members can relax and enjoy the outdoors in Scotland at a reasonable cost.

It would be a privilege to be a trustee as I believe in the ethos of SYHA and would welcome an opportunity to contribute to the ideals expressed in the mission statement. One of the immediate priorities is to promote the fact that SYHA can deliver a more reliable and cost effective service than air B&B. With careful consultation a programme of priorities could be considered to ensure successful decisions are made to reinvest prudently, maintain standards and promote in a manner that engages successfully in the public domain. Research would help to consider the best ways to reach young people through education establishments and technical colleges. Social media has proved to be a very cost effective form of advertising but depending on the budget available other forms of communication could be considered such as an Art Exhibition to celebrate the joy of hostelling! My commitment would be demonstrated by my accountability and enthusiasm to work with the other Trustees members with consideration and respect at all times. I believe genuine ommunication channels provides the framework to establish achievable objectives, measured by past achievements as well as inspired by a collective vision for the future.

Board Election 2019

Validity of Board Ballot Polling Cards

  1. It must be from a hostel member aged 16 years or over
  2. One polling card per membership card regardless of category type
  3. It must contain your name and your valid Membership number as at 30th April 2019
  4. It must clearly indicate your preferred candidates for election; up to the 3 vacancies for election or less
  5. It must be received by the Company Secretary by noon on 30th April 2019

Select up to 3 nominees