This website uses cookies for anonymised analytics and for account authentication. See our privacy and cookies policies for more information.

Volunteer Development Scotland Ltd. (also known as Volunteer Scotland).
Charity registered in Scotland SC013740 and a company limited by guarantee, registered in Scotland, No. SC106743. Our registered Office is Jubilee House, Forthside Way, Stirling. FK8 1QZ

Maddie Thomson

Denis Law Legacy Trust

For many years now, Denis Law Legacy Trust and the Bon Accord Rotary Club (BARC) have formed a successful partnership which enables Streetsport participants and volunteers to attend the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) programme.

The leadership programme aims to help young people unlock their potential and develop the skills needed to be a leader in their community, career and life.

This year, Streetsport volunteer Maddie was the recipient of the sponsored place from BARC and spent a week with other young female leaders at the Abernethy Trust Centre in Nethybridge. Through the experience, Maddie gained new skills, met with inspiring industry leaders and built her confidence back up after a personal tragedy. Here is Maddie’s RYLA experience in her own words:

“I would 100% recommend RYLA, as it was a rewarding and invaluable experience”— Maddie, Streetsport volunteer

What motivated you to get involved in RYLA? “I got involved with RYLA through Streetsport and was keen to get the experience for my Gold Duke of Edinburgh. Having had a rough year due to my mother dying suddenly in November, my confidence took a pretty strong knock and I thought this would also help me to regain and rebuild some confidence and motivation in life that I had lost.”

What activities did you take part in? “There were so many different activities run by the staff at Abernethy that there was genuinely something there for everyone. The main activities during the days were rock climbing, raft building, mountain biking, group challenges, hill walking, abseiling and there was a sports day and swimming gala. In the mornings there were speeches from motivational and inspiring women who shared their journeys and experiences in often male dominated areas.”

Did you develop any new skills on the trip? “Each day someone would be the leader of the activity for the day. On my day we were doing challenges and RYLA helped me to understand that just because you are the leader it doesn't mean that you must be in control of everything and that by playing to your team’s strengths you can excel as a leader and as a team.”

What lessons did you learn from the trip? “That to be a good leader you first have to know how to be a good team member because in doing so you truly understand what makes a good leader. Another lesson that stuck with me that Fiona (one of the mentors and speakers) said to us is 'not everything that can be counted needs to and that not everything that needs to be counted can be.' This helped me to understand that just because something doesn’t produce a tangible object, doesn’t mean it has less value.”

What are you looking to do in future and has this experience helped you? “I am away to go down to the University of Glasgow to study Common Law and Politics. I also hope to do a postgraduate degree in Constitutional Law or Criminal Law in the future. Law is a heavily male dominated industry, with only 39% of Barristers being female. As such hearing from women in other male dominated industries was really inspiring, to hear about their experiences and how they did not let the negative ones cloud their careers. I also learned a lot more about myself which will be really helpful both at university and in my career.”

Would you recommend RYLA and if so why? “I would definitely recommend RYLA to any future candidates. As I said before, I learned so much about myself on the trip but also about how different people come together. I have been at the same school for my whole life so meeting new people from different places and seeing how we all work together was really interesting.”