"Without Scotty's help I would never have had the opportunity to complete my Duke of Edinburgh Award"
Scotty member, Heather McLachlan, shares how her once-in-a-lifetime Super Grant has helped her achieve her dream and brought her closer to the memory of her dad
For Scotty member, Heather McLachlan, achieving her Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award means more to her than most.
After losing her dad, Corporal Robin McLachlan, at just two years old, Heather’s dream was to complete the award in his honour.
Both Heather’s parents, Jill and Robin, were Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award holders and actually met while completing it in 1991, so as soon as Heather turned 14 her ambition was to hit the Bronze, Silver and Gold award milestones.
But due to medical conditions, Heather was unable to complete the hiking expedition required to complete the final element of the award.
She passed her Duke of Edinburgh Silver expedition, but with the increased distance and terrain for the Gold expedition, Heather could slowly see her dream slipping away.
However, thanks to funding supporting from Scotty’s, Heather was able to access a once-in-a-lifetime Super Grant, taking part in a ten-day tall ships adventure and completing her Gold Duke of Edinburgh.
Here, Heather shares the fantastic experience with us, how it helped develop her confidence, and what being able to do this for her dad means to her.
“Being able to complete my Gold Duke of Edinburgh award means so much to me, I really wanted to do it for my mum and to feel closer to my dad. Since I can remember, my mum has always talked about the Duke of Edinburgh award, my dad loved the outdoors, so it helped me keep his memory alive.
“When I heard about the sailing alternative, I was thrilled that I had the opportunity to finish the award, but without the help from Scotty’s it wouldn’t have been possible.”
As well as fulfilling a lifelong ambition, Heather’s ten days at sea gave her the opportunity to meet new people.
She added: “I was definitely pushed out of my comfort zone, everyone on the trip was nervous to begin with. Initially, I was worried that I would not fit in with the group as none of us had met before and it became clear that I had the least amount of sailing knowledge, but I was determined to work hard and find my place.”
Heather’s expedition included training and practical assessments, and by the end of her 10-day course she was able to successfully manage the entire running of the boat, including cleaning and food preparation.
She also had the opportunity to try her hand at fishing and enjoyed BBQ’s on the beach.
She said: “It was an experience that I will never forget. I’m so grateful to Scotty’s Little Soldiers for giving me this opportunity so that I could finish something I have been working towards for over three years. I feel the experience has brought me closer to both my mum and the memory of my dad, and the experience will stay with me for the rest of my life.
The Scotty’s Super Grant has enabled me to complete a personal ambition, earn a RYA Essential Navigation and Seamanship qualification and helped me to become a Gold Duke of Edinburgh holder. It has also come at the perfect time for my university applications as I was able to talk about my adventures and the award in my applications and interviews.”
As part of the Scotty’s Strides Programme, all Scotty’s members have access to the Scotty’s Super Grant, a one-off grant available in emergency situations or once in a lifetime opportunities.
Nikki Scott, founder of Scotty’s Little Soldiers said: “This is exactly what the Scotty’s Super Grant is for. For Heather, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity that meant so much to her and her family. I’m so pleased to hear how she’s benefited from the experience and I know that she will carry this experience with her to university and beyond.”