Bikeability Scotland Awards 2023

31 August 2023    

The Bikeability Scotland Awards have been presented, recognising outstanding achievement in the delivery of Bikeability Scotland, the national cycle training programme for school children, managed by Cycling Scotland.

Since Bikeability Scotland began in 2010, more than 450,000 pupils have received cycle training in Scotland. In the 2022-23 school year, a record 60,000 pupils received training.

The Keith Fergus Annual Achievement Award – Elaine Skinley (Shetland)

This year, the Annual Achievement Award is named in tribute to the enthusiasm and energy of cycling tutor and training co-ordinator Keith Fergus, who passed away aged just 49 last year, leaving a lasting impact with his support for the development of the national cycle training programme and contribution to the wider cycling community.

This year’s award has been presented to Shetland cycle training coordinator Elaine Skinley, who has been involved in on-road cycle training in Shetland schools for 20 years and is now Bikeability Scotland coordinator for the local authority area.

Elaine is recognised for her commitment to personal and professional development, ensuring the programme in Shetland has continued to evolve. Judges also praised for her strong rapport with her instructor network and her wider support for cycling in the local community and being part of the authority’s consistent record in Bikeability Scotland delivery, which every year sees all primary schools and pupils in Shetland provided with the opportunity to participate in on-road cycle training.

Elaine Skinley shared her happiness at winning the award, reflecting on her twenty years of instructing school pupils across Shetland: “I had no clue it was coming. I’m completely shocked.

“I can remember years ago when I was going into the town one night. There was one of the pupils cycling on the road and she was doing everything perfectly and I was just so proud to see that. She was so confident, happily cycling in amongst the traffic. That's why I like doing what I do.”
“It's been brilliant fun. I'm thrilled to get this award and achieve it, especially with Keith's name on it as well. He was actually my tutor for my BSIT (Bikeability Scotland Instructor Trainer) course. It makes it a bit more special.”

We spoke to Elaine about how it feels to be recognised, her experiences delivering Bikeability Scotland training in Shetland, and how an e-bike has extended her own cycle adventures.

Peri Wallach (Bikeability Scotland Coordinator, Dumfries and Galloway) and Jennifer Ferguson (East Renfrewshire​ based instructor) were Highly Commended in this category.

Peri Wallach, said: “It’s a great surprise to have been recognised in this way. I love cycling and every part of my job, particularly working with the most enthusiastic volunteers. We have so much fun, and they contribute so much to providing new opportunities for young people across Dumfries and Galloway. It’s a joy to see the impact we’ve had, and more pupils come away with newfound confidence and skills.”

Jennifer Ferguson, said: “It’s such an honour to be Highly Commended in this year’s award. It’s particularly meaningful for me with this award named in honour of Keith Fergus, who I was very fond of and who I learnt a lot from.

I love what I do and Bikeability is a big part of my life. My daughter, who is now in 6th year, completed her level 3 on-road training in P7 with Keith and myself. This year she went through her own Bikeability Scotland instructor training and volunteered during study leave back at her old primary school to deliver training along with myself in East Renfrewshire. It’s great to see the pupils gain confidence and pass their skills and knowledge into others.”

Instructor of the Year – Mike Blakeman (Dumfries and Galloway)

Mike Blakeman of Dumfries and Galloway Active Schools was presented with the Bikeability Scotland ‘Instructor of the Year’ award in recognition of his success in delivering fully-inclusive and engaging training throughout the year, with judges noting Mike’s additional classroom based input helping put pupils at ease and developing their confidence even before getting on their bikes.

A former teacher, known affectionately as ‘Mikeability’ for his personal dedication to delivering cycle training, judges also commended Mike’s passionate advocacy for cycling which has helped inspire pupils and fellow instructors alike over the past year.

Mike Blakeman commented: ““Winning this award is very special and unbelievable to be honest. We have a very special, close little team of instructors in Dumfries and Galloway, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with everyone to deliver Bikeability Scotland at 18 different schools these past nine months.

“Teaching Bikeability around Dumfries and Galloway doesn't feel like work, ever, and I always slump into the armchair at home at the end of the day with a warm glow. All of this gives you an amazing buzz, especially seeing children's excitement when sharing their achievements with parents and teachers at home time, it's just incredibly rewarding. Hopefully I have encouraged many pupils to get their bikes out to explore the local environment with increased confidence.”

Douglas Kerrison of East Lothian Council was Highly Commended in the ‘Instructor of the Year’ category.

Douglas said: “I was surprised and delighted to receive this unexpected award for doing something I love and want to pass on my thanks to the East Lothian outdoor learning team who have been very supportive and encouraging as we teach new cycling skills to P6s and 7s."

School of the Year – Hythehill Primary School (Moray)

As one of hundreds of schools delivering Bikeability Scotland training to primary school pupils, Hythehill Primary School in Lossiemouth, Moray has been awarded ‘School of the Year’.

In awarding the prize, judges commended the school’s ongoing commitment and dedication to cycle training and the development of a wider cycling culture.

Judges also commended the school’s proactive and full inclusive approach to training in including specific support for those with additional support needs and transient pupils associated with the local RAF base. Additionally, the school was recognised for its efforts to deliver numerous and wide-ranging cycling activities, including bike maintenance classes, learn to ride sessions and mountain biking for P7s.

Martin Collins, Deputy Headteacher of Hythehill Primary School, said: “To hear that we’ve had this recognition, I’m over the moon and very proud. The school staff, parents and the local community will be really pleased, because they’ve all really bought into and supported what we’ve done through Bikeability Scotland.

“If you can get Bikeability Scotland up and running and help young people to get on bikes, it can change a whole idea of life. These are life skills, and these are ways that people think about how they live and that can all begin within a primary school.

“When you see all the parents with their children cycling out, it’s like a switch has changed. All of a sudden people are just doing it now, they’re just cycling, with many parents and teachers now working towards their own Cycle Trainer qualifications.”

We spoke to Martin about what lessons he would share and why cycling is part of a much bigger picture at Hythehill.

Burnbrae Primary School (Midlothian) was Highly Commended in the ‘School of the Year’ category.

Jon Purdie, Burnbrae Primary School teacher said: "Bikeability has been a fantastic way for our pupils to learn and grow outside of the classroom environment and is a superb opportunity for those who struggle with academic learning to achieve and see themselves in a positive light."

David Collins, Bikeability Scotland Manager said: “We are so pleased to celebrate each of the winners’ contribution to delivering Bikeability Scotland cycle training in their local areas, and the brilliant impact each have had in helping more young people gain important lifelong skills.

“It has been so rewarding to see a record of over 60,000 pupils receive Bikeability Scotland cycle training this year, a testament to the work of instructors across Scotland who are giving the next generation the skills and confidence to travel by bike, feel healthier and help tackle the climate emergency.”