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Meet the Chair of our board

Mairi Brackenridge, Chair of Venture Trust's Board of Directors, gives us her views on the challenges and opportunities for the year ahead, her motivations for getting involved, and a flavour of her experiences in Scotland's wilderness....

Mairi did ask us to make it clear that the photo to the right is her bravely tackling the Mighty Deerstalker for Venture Trust (in which she resoundingly beat the rest of the VT team!), and that she doesn't usually dress in tweed accessorised with army camouflage!

Why did you join the board at Venture Trust? What motivated you to get involved?

I have worked in social work and related fields for over 35 years. I have always been particularly interested in working with young people whose lives are challenging and when I was offered early retirement I saw it as an opportunity to continue that interest and give something back. I had also had experience of what the wilderness could offer as a way of helping people consider other options in their lives. VT seemed to fit with what I was looking for.

What’s been the biggest surprise about VT so far? Is the organisation what you expected?

I'm not sure surprised is the way to describe it, but I am impressed by the huge commitment that staff offer to their work, and continue to do that even during periods of change such as we have been through over the past year. It is very clear that the success of the organisation lies in the talented and hugely committed individuals that make up the staff.

What, in your opinion, are the biggest opportunities and challenges facing VT over the coming year?

The biggest challenge is undoubtedly the uncertain economic situation which means that budgets are under pressure. However I do believe that many people understand that we need to find different ways of engaging with disadvantaged and vulnerable people and VT offers a unique and successful way of doing that. I think the success of VT is recognised but we need to keep the message alive so that we can raise the money needed to work with people in the wildnerness. We have such good staff and their commitment impresses people and we need to make sure we continue to develop staff to keep the organisation healthy.

And on a lighter note...

What’s your favourite book, and why?

That's a challenge - I love reading and read a lot. Most recently I have read Claire Tomalin's biography of Dickens and some Swedish detective novels. I like to go back to old favourites such as Jane Austen, so choosing one is difficult. If I had to choose one I think perhaps I would take the collected works of Robert Burns - it contains everything: humour, love, commentary on society, stories, poems...... and it reminds me of my dad who introduced me to Burns when I was a little girl.

Where’s your favourite wild place in Scotland?

More difficult choices! However it would have to be Islay - we go there 2 or three times a year and in particular Saligo Bay - hearing the waves and watching the sea birds is inspirational - even in the rain.

What’s your most bizarre experience so far in life?

It relates to Islay - my husband and I got married there 5 years ago - we kept it quiet and didn't tell anyone, my sister was my witness but didn't know until the day of the wedding what was happening - our reception was sitting on the rocks at Saligo Bay in the pouring rain eating a piece of cake and having a whisky to celebrate - some people would think we were mad!!

When you were a child what did you want to be when you grew up?

I always wanted to work with people but not be a teacher. I thought about being a lawyer but decided against it so I became a social worker - I think it was meant to be.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

I overuse the word actually - I try hard not to do so - but actually it's difficult!

You’re about to be marooned on a desert island... Which three items would you take with you?

A book, some paint and paper - so that I could learn to draw - and a survival blanket.

Which famous person (dead or alive) would you most like to be stuck there with?

Colin Firth

...and you can't say fairer than that!

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