In the 2019 New Year Honours list, David was given a MBE for his contribution to ‘the adventure challenge industry and charity’. David is the creative force behind some of the biggest names in Scottish challenges: The Martin Currie Rob Roy Challenge, The Cateran Yomp, The Artemis Great Kindrochit Quadrathalon, the Glencoe Marathon (the UK’s toughest marathon) and the Loch Ness Marathon.
Speaking to the PA earlier this week, David explained his motivations for becoming an expert in his field.
“A lot of it is hard graft and far from glamorous but the whole point is to do something really worthwhile. There’s nothing more rewarding than being able to excel at what you really want to do. Over the last 20 years I’ve developed 17 major events which have been rewarding both for participants and charities. I’m motivated to make a difference and the book, talks and leadership courses I now do are motivated by my desire to help inspire. There are some distinctly Perthshire events that have evolved to get bigger and bigger. The Rob Roy Challenge starts at the foot of Drummond Hill in Kenmore giving walkers and cyclists a choice of distances and challenges. That’s raised £4 million for local, Scottish, UK and international causes. I love the knowledge that people enter and find these events worthwhile and the spin off is we can help charities like Mary’s Meals feed 10,000 children a day in Malawi or work to make a real difference for cancer survivors, as we do by supporting Maggie’s centres. The Artemis Great Kindrochit Quadrathalon started 20 years ago, taking people in a mad dash around Loch Tay. They swim the loch, climb seven Munros, kayak 7.5 miles and cycle around the loch. That event alone has had a massive impact; it’s raised £9 million for charity including match-funding from the European Community and Department for International Development. The £40 million raised by participants the events I have organised is the money we know about - when people enter there’s no way to tell what they raise additionally for their own charities once they have met the sponsorship threshold we set for our causes.”
In Aberfeldy there is another visible sign of David’s philanthropic urge: The Workshop, a hive of practical activity which has given apprenticeship opportunities to over 100 people. Opened in 2014 by MSP John Swinney, The Workshop is a social enterprise started by Northern Lights, a charity for which David is a trustee.
“It’s been a huge success,” he says. “I’m very proud of what the team at The Workshop has achieved.”
The most recent adventure for David has been writing a book: “Why did I do it? Not to show off, but to explain that you need a passion, that anything worthwhile is worth fighting for.”
By Wild Fox