Dave Cameron, a semi-retired computer systems engineer from Falkirk, has won a competition to design SYHA Hostelling Scotland’s official tartan with his entry inspired by the Scottish Highlands and Islands.

Dave Cameron and Keith Legge, CEO of SYHA Hostelling Scotland, with a mock up of the winning tartan design, at Stirling Castle. Photo Credit: David Cheskin

The 61 year old father of two has enjoyed a career helping to develop software for products that interact with real-world systems and users - from aircraft black boxes to retail loyalty systems - and counts handloom weaving as one of his hobbies. Over the years he has mastered the basics of spinning, weaving on 4 and 8-shaft looms, and is continuing to learn about the craft.

Dave Cameron said: “I had never designed a tartan before so have really enjoyed using the SYHA brief to motivate and guide my ideas. To be short-listed from so many excellent entries was an added bonus but for my design to be selected to go forward is beyond any of my imaginings. It's a great feeling for an engineer to see their work become accepted as just another part of peoples' lives. I'm happy to think that this tartan design will add to the homely, welcoming character of the Scottish youth hostels.

“For me, hostelling was part of growing up. I remember a very soggy hike with the Scouts through Glen Affric; cycling with my mum between Aviemore and Kingussie and my first 'away with friends', staying at Loch Morlich for a week of skiing on Cairngorm. More recently, my wife and I have been introducing our children to youth hostels. They enjoy exploring and meeting new friends; staff are always friendly and other residents seem keen to take the time to chat and share stories.“

The winning tartan, for the design competition launched in January 2016, will be used for soft furnishings throughout SYHA’s network. Dave Cameron will also have the chance to see his tartan being manufactured. Additionally he will be awarded life membership of SYHA Hostelling Scotland and will be given a two-night stay for up to four people at any Scottish youth hostel.

Keith Legge, SYHA Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted to have a dedicated SYHA Hostelling Tartan that really incorporates the natural beauty of Scotland and its great outdoors. Through use of forest greens, light blue to represent lochs, rivers and coastline, and a touch of SYHA earthy red denoting warmth and hospitality; the winning design truly met the criteria set for the competition and requirements for its use in our youth hostels.”

Roderick McDonald originally from Largs and now living in Denmark, and Millicent Howes, a third year textile design student from Indonesia, studying at the School of Textiles and Design, Heriot-Watt University, share the runner up spot. As runners up they will each receive an annual SYHA Hostelling Scotland membership and a two night stay for up to two people at any Scottish youth hostel.

Millicent took her palette from the Scottish Hills in autumn. By translating “SYHA” into Morse Code to create the pattern, the judges were very impressed by the originality and flair of Millicent’s design. The judges thought that the blocks of colour in Roderick’s entry to represent the different shapes and sizes of youth hostels was a novel idea and that the design was a bright and fresh take on traditional tartan.

The winning entry and a selection of the competition designs will go on display at Stirling Youth Hostel later in 2016 to tie in with VisitScotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design and Festival of Architecture.

The judging panel for the SYHA Tartan Competition included Dr Elspeth King, Director of the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum, Robin McKelvie, an accomplished travel writer and blogger, Keith Legge and Margo Paterson, CEO and Deputy CEO of SYHA Hostelling Scotland respectively; and Mike West and Duncan Craig from SYHA’s Board of Trustees.