Staff Q&A – VS CEO, David Brackenridge

David. Tell us a bit about yourself. Have you always been an outdoorsy person?

Not really! My early years were taken up playing basketball so I spent a lot of time inside large sports halls rather than outdoors. I really only took up hill walking in my early thirties and then my life changed when I randomly booked myself onto a winter mountaineering course having never actually climbed before. Standing on a snowy knife edge arete with 1000ft drop on both sides totally blew my mind and, from then on, climbing became my passion.

You’ve been with VS since October 2015 – what do you like most about your role?

That’s an easy question. Watching young people change has always been my favourite thing about my job. I doesn’t matter if it’s a small change or a massive life-altering change. It is particularly satisfying if you feel you have helped that young person on their journey.

Life is all about being on a journey of discovery and working with young people helps me to reflect, learn and develop as a person. Can’t believe how much I have learnt over the last 7 years.

Venture Scotland believes that nature and the outdoors are key to maintaining and improving health and wellbeing – what do the outdoors mean to you?

The outdoors is my happy place! I don’t mind if I’m walking, running, climbing, paddling or cycling I find when I’m outside I’m immersed in whatever it is I’m doing. Sometime I use the outdoor to process things I’m struggling with and sometime I can just switch my brain off and let it recover from the information overload of modern life. Hill walking in particular helps as all you have to do is put one foot in front of the other for hour after hour. Bliss.

What’s your have a favourite VS memory?

I think if I can only select one (really just one?), it would have to be review we did with a group of young people, while sitting in the Howff at Glen Etive. It was dark and we all turned our head torches off, so only had the light from the fire. Each person in the group were extremely articulate and had a deep understanding of how Venture Scotland was helping them change. It was extremely moving and humbling and reminded me why I do this job.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting the programme?

Firstly, understand that our programme is nothing to do with teaching you to hill walk, rock climb or paddle canoes. Our programmes are about your emotions, your feelings, your relationships and they way you think about your life and the world around you.

Secondly, this is about YOU changing. Venture Scotland can’t change your life, only you can. All we do is give you the space, the time and the trusted, caring adults in your life, that you need to change your mindset.

If you could only take part in one more activity session with VS, what activity would it be and why?

Would have to be weaselling (ideally in the pouring rain)! It is such a simple activity. It’s just squeezing between rocks, isn’t it? Yet every time I do it, I come back with a massive grin on my face. It just so much fun and even more so when it’s muddy.