DofE Scotland – Gold Awards Presentation

This year, I was asked to present the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Awards to over 30 young people in my group. It was a privileged to be asked to do so after a few years when I received my Gold Award at Holyrood Palace. It was well timed too as we mark twenty days to go till Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games with David Grevemberg, CEO of Glasgow 2014 joined the host of celebrities, Nina Nesbitt, Paul Brannigan, actor, Tony Singh, Chef, David Murdoch, Sochi 2014 Silver medallist in Curling, Chris Paterson, MBE, Scottish Rugby Union Ambassador and many others.

It was conferred that I was the youngest and only fellow Gold Award holder to be on hand to present the Awards to the youngsters this year.

These young people have demonstrated the resilience and tenacity to work hard to achieve their record of achievements during course of the Award. They should be extremely proud of what they have achieved as I firmly believed that the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme had serve them well and will aid them onto their next aspiration in life.

As a recipient of the Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award, I know how much the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme had taught me about myself. However, I would like to thanks Garry MacLeod (MBE) from the Glasgow City Council for being my mentor while I was doing mine on a solo capacity. Garry worked with me to maximise my potential in working towards my Duke of Edinburgh award. Without his support and guidance he had given throughout my award period, I may have never have experienced the self-confidence and self belief to enable me to go on pushing boundaries.
Thereafter, it was Ken Hames ( who saw my capability to succeed while coping with a disability which saddle a number of impairments associated with Cerebral Palsy and ever since he has inspired me to go on further.

Many, many Congratulations to this year’s recipients. They should go out and not yield, the Duke of Edinburgh Awards organisation has given them the attributes to take forward.


Julie Present the Gold Duke of Edinburgh Awards

Scotland’s young people get their Gold

436 young people from across Scotland will receive their Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) Award this year on Thursday, 3rd July 2014 in the presence of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.

Nina Nesbitt, Paul Brannigan, David Grevemberg, Des Clarke, David Murdoch and Julie McElroy are amongst the celebrity presenters who will be there to celebrate the achievements of the young people and present them with their certificates.

For a few of the presenters this is not their first experience with the DofE. Presenter and disabilities campaigner Julie McElroy is herself a Gold Award holder and said “These young people have demonstrated the resilience and tenacity to work hard to achieve their Award. They should be extremely proud of what they have achieved, as I know that their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award will serve them well and help them on their career path.”

By wheelchair was one of the many ways that the Gold Award was completed this year. Innes Martin from Perth & Kinross Council has cerebral palsy and uses an electric wheelchair. He used an off-road electric bike to complete his expedition. Innes will be in his special chair when he is presented his Award by Scottish Rugby Union ambassador Chris Paterson.

This year also sees a record number of young people, 5, receiving their Gold Award from the tiny island of Sanday in Orkney which has less than 500 inhabitants. Rosemary and Martyn Newton, DofE Leaders for over 20 years, will be there to see them receive their certificates and be presented with their own Long Service Awards for their commitment to volunteering with the DofE.

Barry Fisher, Director for DofE Scotland, said of the event “It’s wonderful to see such a range of young people receiving their Gold Awards today. The DofE is achievable by all and I’m thrilled to see a full range of backgrounds represented here today, including participants with additional support needs and those from remote areas.

“Each DofE Award is a personal development programme and all of the young people here have met their own personal goals in order to be here. With more and more young people achieving a Gold Award each year, it is a real tribute to the dedication and determination of Scotland’s young people.

List of Presenters:
– Nina Nesbitt, singer
– Paul Brannigan, actor
– David Grevemberg, Glasgow 2014 CEO
– Tony Singh, Chef
– David Murdoch, Sochi 2014 Silver medallist in Curling
– Chris Paterson, MBE, Scottish Rugby Union Ambassador
– Kevin Guthrie, actor
– Des Clarke, comedian and radio presenter
– Victoria Crowe, OBE, FRSE, RSA, portrait artist
– Julie McElroy, Disabilities campaigner
– Keith Anderson, ScottishPower Chief Corporate Officer
– Steve Montgomery, ScotRail Managing Director
– Sue Walker, Scottish Chief Commissioner, Girlguiding


Further information about the DofE:
• The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award was founded in 1956 by its Patron HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. HRH The Earl of Wessex is a Trustee.
• Over 42,000 young people are currently taking part in DofE programmes in Scotland at 960 DofE Centres, supported by over 3,500 adult volunteers from all walks of life.
• Last year, 20,794 new young people started a DofE programme in Scotland and 9,923 Awards were achieved.
• In total, over 5 million people have participated in DofE programmes and achieved over 2 million Awards in the UK since 1956.
• Through the volunteering part of their programme, young people give their free time to society with a value of over £24 million per year and volunteers contribute over £17 million per year. That’s over £41 million put back into society!
• A survey with major employers, commissioned by the United Learning Trust, found that a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is the most highly valued experience when selecting employees.
• There are over 900,000 young people participating worldwide globally in over 140 countries and territories.
• Since 1956, over 8 million people have taken part across the world, highlighting how the DofE can truly transcend boundaries of race, language, ethnicity and culture.
• The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is a Registered Charity No 1072490 and in Scotland
• No SC038254 and a Royal Charter Corporation RC000806.
• Further information can be found at
• More about the DofE
The DofE Charity
Youth charity The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award supports over 300,000 people aged 14-24 every year. Our ethos is to enable every young person of every background to take part in our programmes and succeed, regardless of any barriers. We help instil a sense of adventure and have a lasting impact on young people’s behaviour, skills and life chances.
Our mission
To inspire, guide and support young people in their self-development and recognise
their achievements.
DofE programmes
Anyone aged between 14 and 24 can do a programme at one of the three progressive levels which, when successfully completed, lead to a Bronze, Silver or Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. There are four sections at Bronze and Silver level and five at Gold.
– Volunteering: undertaking service to individuals or the community.
– Physical: improving in an area of sport, dance or fitness activities.
– Skills: developing practical and social skills and personal interests.
– Expedition: planning, training for and completion of an adventurous journey in the UK
or abroad.
– At Gold level, participants must do an additional fifth Residential section, which involves staying and working away from home doing shared activity.
Achieving a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award
Young people will achieve a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award if they show persistence, commitment and personal development over a period of time. Every activity must be successfully completed and assessed. The result is the world’s leading achievement award for young people, recognised by employers and universities alike.
Where it is run

DofE programmes are delivered under licence by over 700 partners (Licensed Organisations) who offer it in 11,500 DofE groups run in centres such as youth clubs, voluntary organisations, schools, academies, colleges, universities, young offender institutions and businesses, which are run and supported by over 48,000 adult volunteers.

Host City Volunteers Orientation Event

An army of 1,500 volunteers is being recruited to provide the warmest of welcomes to visitors to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. The Host City Volunteers will bring passion and pride to Glasgow’s streets, as they help visitors to navigate around the city at Games-time, providing information on the sports programme, Live Zones, and the many cultural activities the city will have on offer.

The volunteer programme is part of Host City Glasgow – a 3-year project, led by Glasgow Life to help enhance the potential impact of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games on civic pride, volunteering legacy, and communities in the host city. The £1.7million project has just been awarded £632,000 by the Big Lottery Fund, with other funding and support provided by Glasgow City Council and Glasgow Life. As the host city, Glasgow is looking to maximise opportunities for local people to feel connected with, and play an active part in, delivery of the Games. The project will offer exciting opportunities to do just that, while welcoming visitors, and showcasing the city.

The Host City Volunteer programme will target communities and groups that may have previously encountered barriers which prevented their involvement in volunteering. The volunteers, who will all live, work or study in the city, will receive training and support before, during and after the Games, with the hope that many will use the opportunity as a springboard to further enhance their own lives or those of their local communities.

The Host City Volunteers Orientation Event took place in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Wednesday 21st May. The orientation was to tell the Host City Volunteers all about the role they will play during Games time and what a typical day as a HCV will involve. They were also told about the Festival 2014 Live Zones and where they might be based. It was also be a great opportunity to talk to the team and ask any questions they have about their role. The 1,300 Host City Volunteers who have already signed up will get their picture taken for their accreditation and will get their official uniforms to take away with them.

The special guests at the orientation including Julie McElroy – who is an ambassador for paralympic sports, as well as a dedicated disability campaigner. TV presenter Carol Smillie was presenting the night and East 40 will be making an appearance. East 40 is a band made up of schoolchildren from Glasgow’s East End and it takes its name from the postcode of the schools and the number of band members. Along with Glasgow singer-songwriter Jonathan Carr, who co-wrote the single, as well as with some help from members of The Vaccines, Franz Ferdinand and Frightened Rabbit, they have released a charity single in aid of UNICEF and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games which has already caught the imagination of hundreds of pupils in the city with its inspiring message.

Julie Lends Support to Host City Volunteers Programme

Julie is delighted to be lending a hand to the Host City Volunteers Programme. She says “I am a Glasgow girl at heart! I am lending my support to the Host City Volunteers Programme where everyone can be united to help bring and welcome our Commonwealth Nations and the World to Scotland.

A person is a person, regardless of my disability, I wanted to give something back to a city that has richly enhanced me. It is now your time to volunteer”.

Julie was recruited by Mark O’Neill, Director of Policy & Research, Glasgow Life. Mark says “Julie’s energy and passion for living life to the full is inspirational. Given that we can’t bottle it and distribute it to Host City Volunteers, the only other option was for them to see Julie in person!”.

The volunteer programme is part of Host City Glasgow – a 3-year project led by Glasgow Life to help enhance the potential impact of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games on civic pride, volunteering legacy and communities in the host city. The £1.7million project has just been awarded £632,000 by the Big Lottery Fund, with other funding and support provided by Glasgow City Council and Glasgow Life.

Julie Present the Saltire Awards

Knightwood Secondary School invited Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Assistant Chief Officer Lewis Ramsay and I to present the Saltire Awards to 334 pupils at this year’s Awards ceremony. The Saltire Awards is now in its second year for Knightwood Secondary. Last year, 180 pupils achieved their Saltire Award.

The Saltire Awards started off by Rt First Minister Alex Salmond as the Millennium Awards. Soon after it was renamed as the Saltire Awards to acknowledge the recognition of the dedication and contribution of young people volunteering in Scotland. There are six categories of voluntary hours, the young people can do, 10, 25, 50, 100, 200 and 500.

Assistant Chief Officer Lewis Ramsay has had an interesting career in the Fire Service. Recently played an instrumental role in the Clutha Helicopter Crash and has been involved in the Evening Times’ Community Champion Awards previously.

It was a humbling day to witnessed the achievements of these young people today. Congratulations to them all on their awards and their well-deserved hard work.

Motion S4M-09776: Bill Kidd, Glasgow Anniesland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 22/04/2014
Saltire Awards at Knightswood Secondary School
That the Parliament recognises the upcoming Knightswood Secondary School Saltire Award Ceremony on 25 April 2014; understands that the ceremony celebrates the volunteer work performed by pupils of Knightswood Secondary School; congratulates and commends the over 300 Knightswood pupils who performed anywhere from 10 to 200 hours of volunteer service, and acknowledges the ceremony’s speakers, Julie McElroy and Assistant Chief Officer Lewis Ramsay, for serving as positive role models in philanthropy for the Knightswood pupils.

Game Changer Award 2014


Universities Scotland and Colleges Scotland teamed up together to host a one-off award ceremony that recognises and celebrates the many contributions that staff and students in Scotland’s further and higher education sectors are making to ensure that Glasgow 2014 is a fantastic success and will deliver an enduring legacy for Scotland’s people.

The unique event took place on Thursday 3 April 2014, at the Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow.

It attracted more than 110 entries from staff and students from colleges and universities across Scotland with a total of 21 institutions producing winning entries. Guests included, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Michael Russell, Glasgow 2014’s Chief Executive David Grevemberg, former First Minister Rt Hon Henry McLeish and Glasgow 2014 mascot, Clyde.

gamechangerOur one was a finalist in the Research Impact Contribution alongside entries from University of Glasgow, as well as a collaboration between the Universities of Stirling, Dundee and Glasgow. This award category recognised the impact of research relevant to the Glasgow 2014 Games, its legacy goals and or to the enhancement of sport or understanding of the Commonwealth in Scotland.

I was thrilled to be part of the winning University of the West of Scotland Research team at the Game Changer Awards. It still hasn’t sunk in that my team has a GOLD award!

Photo Credit: Game Changer Awards 2014 – Universities Scotland and Colleges Scotland.
Game changers awards Glasgow Fruitmarket 02/4/14 Pics-Geo Wright +44007889 736462

Minister (MP) Lynne Featherstone Meet Julie

The Evening Times ParaSports movement of Glasgow 2014 has captured the debate beyond Glasgow, even further afield than Scotland to London and Developing Countries across the World.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting the Minister (MP) Lynne Featherstone, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (PUSS) for International Development in March this year. Lynne is championing Disability Rights for those in developing countries. Within her portfolio sits Violence Against Women and the Disability portfolio.

One of the reasons why Lynne Featherstone, the Minister for the Department for International Development (DFID) was keen to visit Glasgow because many disabled athletes from developing countries from Commonwealth Countries will descend in Glasgow to complete in the Commonwealth Games. For many of them, they will embrace the celebratory atmosphere that the Commonwealth’s motion brings.

Lynne_Featherstone_Visit (9)Lynne and I toured the Emirates Arena and Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome. We met Gordon McCormack who is currently employed as Senior Co-ordinator to Disabled Sports within Glasgow City Council and he is also Chair of Scottish Disability Sport and Johnathan Shaw, the General Manager of the Emirates Arena who talked about the unique building and the benefits to the citizens of Glasgow and beyond. Lynne was struck by how dedicated the organisers of Glasgow 2014 are to making sure the Games deliver for people with disabilities.

Glasgow 2014 will feature the biggest ever number of Para-Sport medal events in the history of the Commonwealth Games – 22 in total, spanning five sports. The Commonwealth Games offer a great opportunity to raise the profile of issues facing people living with disabilities both in the UK and across developing countries. The visit was an opportunity to see how preparations for the Games are progressing and to meet those with insights on improving access and equality for people living with disabilities.

Lynne also highlighted the pledged that any school construction supported directly by DFID allows disability access, when currently almost 90 per cent of children living with disabilities in Africa do not regularly attend schools. People with disabilities in Scotland must consider themselves fortunate to have access to education and technology to help them learn. Technology has been a lifeline to many including myself in developed countries. In stark contrast to when I visited the slum of Dehli a few years ago, it was heart-breaking seeing many disabled children couldn’t write despite being given one piece of paper.

Her visit coincide with another interesting landmark as it appears that disability was not specifically addressed in the Millennium Development Goals, UN initiative which conclude in 2015. Now there is a push to mark disability on the international agenda and recognise it in post-2015 development plans.

It was evident that Lynne and I shared the same passion for the ParaSports being endorsed in Glasgow. The Games will be a source of inspiration for people with disabilities not only in Glasgow, but across the world.

International Development Minster, Lynne Featherstone commented
“Campaigners like Julie McElroy are doing a great job in keeping disability issues on the agenda. The Evening Times deserves credit for giving people with disabilities a voice across the city. In the world’s poorest countries people with disabilities are often the most vulnerable, that is why the UK is pushing hard to put disability at the heart of the post Millennium Development Goals agenda.”