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?
...and you can't say fairer than that!
We did it! On Saturday 17th March, a committed team of 25 fearless runners successfully tackled the Mighty Deerstalker event in Peebles, to raise money for Venture Trust.
Collectively raising over £2,000 to support Scots from difficult and disadvantaged backgrounds, Our intrepid runners tackled obstacles including cargo nets, balance beams and river crossings – not to mention wading through copious amounts of mud.
Our fabulous supporters travelled from across the country to be there (special mention to the four runners from RGU:RAG who travelled down from Aberdeen the morning of the event), and everyone dressed to the nines in their finest tweed, tartan, flat-caps and waistcoats, all topped off with Venture Trust-themed face paint. As the 5k runners returned tired and dirty from their epic adventure, the 10k runners battled on into the falling darkness, scrambling up scree slopes lit only by their head torches. No effort was spared, and the months of training, fundraising and preparation paid off as every one of the team successfully crossed the finish line.
It was absolutely fantastic to see so many runners getting involved in this brilliant event to support Venture Trust. The money our runners raised equates to almost 200 hours of one-to-one support to help young people in Scotland work towards more positive futures. As one of Venture Trust’s first fundraising events it’s been great to see such an enthusiastic turn-out, and a massive thank you to all our runners, bucket-shakers and supporters for helping make it such a successful day. Many thanks also to Walkers Shortbread, Hobbycraft Edinburgh and Tunnock's for their fab support.
We even made it onto Radio 2's drivetime show on Friday evening! You can listen to the clip here.
We’re looking forward to getting involved in more extreme challenges in 2012 – helping give a life-changing opportunity to young people who’ve been in care, have struggled with homelessness, or are struggling to make the transition to adulthood.
See you there?
We're always pleased to hear about people raising money for Venture Trust, especially when it involves cakes, 'nippy dipping', and guitar solos...
RGU:RAG, Robert Gordon University's charities campaign, have been fantastic supporters of Venture Trust for almost two years. They're always unbelievably enthusiastic about raising money for good causes, and are particularly creative when it comes their annual 'RAG week'. We always look forward to hearing what they've been up to, and they didn't disappoint, as Kyna - RGU:RAG's President, tells us...
Between the 14th and 19th of February RGU:RAG hosted a variety of events to raise money for Venture Trust as part of our annual RAG week. These events ranged from the tame to the wild - including bake sales, an acoustic night, a pub quiz and running into the North Sea, or as we call it, "the nippy dip."
This year one of RGU:RAG's main aims was to maintain and develop our relationships with the charities we fundraise for which is why Venture Trust was nominated as a beneficiary of the money raised during RAG week. Our members are invited to suggest any charity they would like to fundraise for, then we hold a vote on which charity we want to support.
We began raising money for Venture Trust since 2010 and have developed a close relationship with the charity. Several of our members have visited the Venture Trust centre in Applecross over two weekends and helped to paint the buildings.
Exciting news! We’ve secured charity places (at a mega 40% discount) in Scotland’s craziest and most fun outdoor challenge event - the Deerstalker (5k) and the Mighty Deerstalker (10k). There’ll be mud, water, muddy water (!), fancy dress, a whole load of fun, and an after-party beer and music tent. What more could you want?
So join up, take on the challenge, and raise some money for a brilliant cause. We’re asking each person taking up a discounted charity place to commit to raising at least £100 for Venture Trust – and in return we’ll support you to raise the money, cheer you over the finish line, and party with you till the wee sma’ hours.
See you at the start line....!