Election Procedure

This Board election ballot notice is a key opportunity for all eligible Hostel members to participate in the annual election process of SYHA, a registered Scottish Charity and a Company Limited by Guarantee.

In accordance with SYHA Articles of Association there are 3 elected vacancies to be filled on the Board, with 5 Board Nominees having been recommended to stand for election. Biographical notes on each nominated candidate are given to aid your selection.

Votes can be cast using the form below. All votes cast will be treated in the strictest confidence and the election count will be conducted by the Company Secretary. Closing date to receive polling cards is 28th April 2017 and the election results will be published by the Company Secretary to all nominated candidates by 5th May 2017 and published on our website at www.syha.org.uk.

Candidate Biographies

Click on any of the Nominees names to view their biographies.

Duncan Craig Retired Business Consultant

I have been a member of SYHA Hostelling Scotland since I was a teenager and actively used them for most of my life. Over the years there have been many changes in travel, technologies and the needs of the environment and people. As a result how they spend their money and their free time has also changed. SYHA has had to adapt in order to compete with the competition from foreign holidays, couch activities such as computer games and television and the diminishing demand for basic accommodation. With old infrastructure SYHA has generated capital from the sell-off of hostels in order to renovate and refurbish what remains.

I have been a trustee of SYHA for the last 3 years. In that time, a lot has been achieved including the purchase of a hostel at Portree, the introduction of free Wi-Fi and the sale of Carbisdale Castle demonstrate that the organisation is determined to provide the accommodation we seek, in places we want to go. However, the model of sell and rebuild is not enough if we are to sustain the network of youth hostels we need and want. During my career, I was a business consultant helping companies improve their operational effectiveness. Now I am retired I can now give freely of my time to help SYHA attain its strategies and secure its network for future generations.

In addition there are always improvements that can be made to continue to improve the booking, checking and living experience for hostellers young, and not so young. And it is the young that we need to attract by providing an environment that embraces the technologies and lifestyle of their generation, fuelling their thirst for more and their continued return in later years.

Claire McCorquodale Head of Marketing

I would love to give something back to an organisation which has given me so much in terms of adventure, friendships and a safe haven. I believe that my 25 year career in marketing will bring additional thinking to augment the increased marketing drive.

My ideas include:

  • Converting warm leads to new members through an effective digital strategy, including emarketing, content and on-line customer journeys.
  • Developing personas to segment the target audience and associated messaging.
  • Leveraging a trusted brand with a loyal membership.
  • Communicating membership benefits more clearly.
  • Continuing to use video to promote the unique experience each hostel can offer, including situation and the genuine voice of the wardens and guests.
  • Reviewing the social media strategy, e.g. considering decentralising the Twitter account to allow hostel managers to have a voice and for the social media to appear less corporate
  • Tapping into corporate ESG – looking at how SYHA can help additional businesses to achieve their own ESG targets, whether through charitable donations, fundraising, volunteering or contributing to the SYHA’s education programme.
  • Considering additional revenue streams.
  • Tapping into the increasing market for outdoor adventure events such as triathlons to increase both rural and city hostel occupation.
  • Looking at how donations can be increased.
  • Considering strategies to target the silver pound, in particular outside peak periods.
  • Considering impact of Brexit on domestic and international revenue and strategies to optimise any opportunities.

In addition to my marketing experience, I can offer SYHA Hostelling Scotland dedication and enthusiasm. I will ask pertinent and challenging questions and will bring my own experience of the organisation and a deep-seated love of Scotland and the great outdoors.

I truly believe that programmes such as Give Us a Break have a long-lasting impact on the lives of young underprivileged people. The value of teaching young people skills to allow them to enjoy the outdoors is immeasurable in terms of building confidence and learning to work together as a team. The outdoors is a great leveller, social status becomes irrelevant and friendships are formed, regardless of background. I believe SYHA epitomises this and I would love to work to help young people, whatever their background, to enjoy what this amazing country has to offer.

Keith Ovenstone Senior Project Manager

I want to join the Board of Trustees and Directors because ...

  • I know how amazing and unique hostelling is and I want to keep it alive for future generations.
  • I want to give back to hostelling and SYHA as it’s given me and my family so much!
  • I’ve met the current board and many members and I’m confident we can work together to fulfil our common goals.
  • I would like to help the organisation adapt and flex to be sustainable into the future whilst staying true to its roots and traditions.
I will help SYHA by...
  • Challenging and asking if things are efficient and as good as they can be.
  • Working as one team and encourage others to do likewise.
  • Encouraging pragmatism in the name of progress.
  • Sharing my knowledge of delivering challenging objectives in large organisations on time and within budget.
SYHA priorities that I will champion...
  • Consumer need – this needs to be well understood
  • Financial viability and long-term thinking
  • Strategy – SYHA needs a clear purpose, a strategy to get there and must measure progress towards its goal.
Me, my skills and my experience...
  • Strategy – I am enthusiastic and passionate about things that are important to SYHA – Scotland, wildlife, travel, sharing, sport, making friends, sharing culture, learning, supporting young people and helping those less fortunate than ourselves.
  • I am driven in everything I do – in work, supporting family and friends and in sport.
  • I see opportunities and can’t ignore things.
  • I am a people person – friendly, approachable, diplomatic, empathetic, considerate and a natural communicator.
  • I am logical – I can distil complex scenarios. I can separate emotion and make fact-based decisions. I can present options and outline pros and cons to make decisions effectively.
  • I am a qualified Mechanical Engineer, with a post-graduate diploma in business management from Cambridge University.
  • During my career, I have managed many complex projects in Manufacturing (4 years) and Financial Services (11 years).
  • I am owner and director of my own Change Management business, delivering projects for some of the UK’s biggest financial companies.

Michael Spencer Parent and Data Scientist

SYHA aims to encourage everyone to experience the culture and landscape on offer in Scotland. Safe and affordable accommodation is critical in enabling people from Scotland and across the globe to visit this beautiful country.

I split my week between the care of my 3 year old young son and data science in rural society research. The latter gives me a deep understanding of IT and data opportunities: particularly how we can use new technology to work more efficiently. I love taking my son on adventures, we often use the hostel network in city centre and remote locations. It’s a privilege to be introducing the next generation to hostelling.

I have worked across the public, private and academic sectors. A PhD in geoscience taught me exceptional attention to detail and enables me to find the crux of an issue. Working across sectors and disciplines has made me a strong mediator, which I use to find common ground between opposing views.

As a current SYHA trustee, I am working hard to find a replacement for our CEO, Keith Legge. I am looking forward to completing this process over the next few months, and with your vote, developing a new strategic plan with Keith’s successor. I want to continue as an SYHA trustee to encourage greater responsible participation in the outdoors and ensure a healthy network of hostels for future generations of adventure. I will help achieve this by representing young families and promoting efficient working methods.

William Thomson Engineering Manager

I am a life member of the SYHA and I am very passionate about the success of the SYHA. Speaking from personal experience I believe it has helped broaden opportunities for young and old people alike and helped them to experience Scottish cities and countryside. I started using SYHA hostels as a teenager (well over 30 years ago so harking back to the days of chores!) and the availability of hostels encouraged me to visit parts of the Scotland that I would not have visited otherwise. These early experiences gave me a thirst for travelling further afield and over the years I have travelled to and around places such as India and Nepal.

I view myself as part of the hostel community. Hostels are also a place to meet fellow visitors and share experiences and stories. My hostel encounters prompted me to take up the challenge of climbing all the Munros, which I completed in 2006. I have experience of hostels overseas (particularly having lived and worked in Australia for 8 years), and can bring my experiences to the Board. I have seen how the SYHA and their hostels have evolved over the years and I would like to contribute to ensuring the continued success of the SYHA.

I would like to see the profile of the SYHA raised through public outreach and the public to realise what a valuable resource the SYHA is. I think it is important that local governments appreciate the prestige and the boost to the local economy which an SYHA hostel brings to a community. I am aware that there are challenges and opportunities to be faced by the SYHA, in terms of operation, maintenance and development; with my professional experience in management and engineering, and my practical and logical approach to problem solving I believe I can have a positive influence on the future direction of the SYHA and would be a steady hand on the tiller in the years to come.

Board Election 2017 Up to 3 vacancies for election or less