North Ayrshire 'mountain man' wins top youth worker award

Ross Muir honoured with National Outdoor Learning and Environment Award
-Credit: (Image: Alan Rennie Photography)

A dedicated youth worker from North Ayrshire was honoured with the National Outdoor Learning and Environment Award at the National Youth Work Awards 2024.

Ross Muir, affectionately known as North Ayrshire's "mountain man" has been instrumental in helping young people overcome barriers and discover the wonders of the great outdoors.

With over 20 years of experience, Ross has been a driving force behind the Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) programme in North Ayrshire, serving as its coordinator and sole staff member.

Last year alone, Ross supported over 400 young people by delivering more than 5,000 voluntary hours locally, engaging in activities such as foodbank support, charity shop assistance, and ASN sports support.

He has also championed outdoor expeditions, identifying exciting outdoor activities like mountain-climbing and orienteering, and is always on the look-out for more ways that he can harness the power of youth work to give back to local communities.

His dedication to providing these outdoor experiences has been a lifeline for many young people in North Ayrshire, where child poverty rates are among the highest in Scotland.

Despite facing personal health obstacles, Ross's unwavering dedication to youth development shines through, serving as a powerful example of perseverance and determination for young people.

By sharing his own struggles openly, he empowers young people to confront their own difficulties and barriers with courage and resilience.

His colleague and nominator Donna Anderson, Youth Participation and Democracy lead was delighted at Ross’s win for the outdoor learning category.

Donna said: "We are absolutely over the moon that Ross came out on top.

"Ross is North Ayrshire’s very own mountain man and he is so driven and passionate about helping young people to conquer their barriers.

"Making connections outdoors is so important to him and is central to his work. His love for the outdoors really is contagious.

"I nominated him on behalf of Youth Services because his hard work and commitment to outdoor youth work opportunities and the Duke of Edinburgh Award programme has been unsurpassed."

Ross said: "I am still absolutely in shock to be nominated, so to have won the Outdoor Learning category is just unbelievable. Thank you so much to everyone for their support, what a brilliant start of the summer for me!

"There were so many inspirational people at the ceremony, it was amazing just to be sitting alongside them and listening to their stories.

"The focus for the Duke of Edinburgh over the coming year and beyond is to keep promoting and offering the Award to as many young people as possible.

"A huge thanks to Donna and all the leaders and young people who have supported me. I’m looking forward to continuing to work with all of our school coordinators and youth workers locally to help young people across our six localities to realise their potential. They are the ones that keep the award alive here in North Ayrshire and who continue to put us on the map in this important area of youth work."

The National Youth Work Awards ceremony took place on June 12 in Glasgow, hosted by Celebrity Big Brother Winner, John Loughton.

On the night, teams and individuals including Ross, who go above and beyond in their service to young people, were celebrated.

Tim Frew, Chief Executive of YouthLink Scotland, highlighted the invaluable contributions of youth workers like Ross: "With the cost of living crisis intensifying and more young people encountering obstacles in education and employment, youth workers stand out as the true changemakers.

"Their invaluable contributions to the lives of countless young people deserve recognition, as they are the unsung heroes strengthening our communities."

Head of Service for Connected Communities at North Ayrshire Council, Rhonda Leith, added: "Ross’s passion for the great outdoors and youth development has earned him the coveted accolade. He continues to be a source of inspiration for to us all and we are delighted that he has been recognised at a national level.

"He is a true embodiment of the Council’s values of focus, passion and inspiration and we are so grateful to have his expertise on board, leaving a lasting legacy across North Ayrshire’s six localities.

"On behalf of everyone at North Ayrshire Council, I would like to share a huge congratulations to Ross on his momentous achievement."

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