Mark Beaumont

*We are a little bit joking/a little bit exaggerating/a big bit biased… But earlier this month, Scottish Adventurer Mark Beaumont was the guest judge at Pitlochry High School’s fifth YPI school final, and what an evening the teachers and S3 pupils put on.

In front of an audience of students, parents and charity representatives, seven teams of S3 students delivered their presentations in hope of securing the £3,000 for their chosen charity. All around the room were stalls that students had also created, with information about the seven charities. Mark Beaumont, who secured his latest World Record last year by cycling the length of Africa, was joined on the judging panel by Councillor Band, Fred Alexander (Rotary), Linda Watson (former Deputy Head) and Regan Andrews (an ex pupil who participated in the first year of YPI at Pitlochry High who is now back at school as a modern apprentice).

The seven charities represented were: CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young), TCCL (Tayside Children with Cancer and Leukaemia), Macmillan Cancer Support, SCAA (Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance), Happy Highlanders, Corbenic Community Campus, and British Heart Foundation.

All seven presentations were very strong, with creative animations included in many. It was clear a lot of work and determination had been put into each and every presentation. Every single charity name was brought up during the judging process with the tough decision coming to a close as the judges decided on the team representing the British Heart Foundation as the winners. The team, made up of Callum Steven, Emma Mullin, Lia Scott, and Charlotte McIntyre, spoke about their involvement with the British Heart Foundation and its Heartstart programme currently in their school. These courses teach CPR and emergency life-saving skills and the winning team have been involved in volunteering with the primary section of their school to help enhance their sessions. One of the team members also spoke about her connection with heart issues as her younger brother had open heart surgery and will require regular check-ups and the requirement to be near a defibrillator for the rest of his life. The £3,000 was planned to go towards the local Heartstart programme.

Jonathan Christie, YPI Scotland Manager said:

“The work the winning team are already undertaking in partnership with the British Heart Foundation is incredible.  Their understanding of the charity and how the issue of heart disease affects the lives of so many people across Perth & Kinross was excellent.  However, it was their experience of championing their cause across the school and wider community, and leading on a programme of life saving education with students in the lower school, that set their presentation out from rest. That said, I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed such a tense and tight judging process in all my years of involvement in YPI. I cannot praise the staff and pupils at Pitlochry High School enough. What they are achieving through YPI is invaluable, and to see the manner in which YPI has grown and developed in all secondary schools across Perth & Kinross speaks volumes about the ethos and culture that has been nurtured within schools and wider communities.”

Mark Beaumont enjoyed his evening judging Pitlochry’s final – his first involvement with the programme since becoming a philanthropy ambassador for The Wood Foundation last year. Through adventure, Mark has achieved a great deal and broken records, and in doing so has also supported many worthy causes and organisations.

Before the event, Mark Beaumont, adventurer, broadcaster and author said: “I am thrilled at the opportunity to attend Pitlochry High School’s YPI Final, although I fear the judging process will be anything but easy. What students are challenged to do through YPI is fantastic, and to place such responsibility in the hands of S3 students is so empowering for the young people taking part. I am looking forward to learning more about the issues and organisations that each team has chosen, and seeing their passion and confidence shine through as they each present. I spend a lot of time sharing stories of adventure and it is never easy to speak in front of an audience, let alone where there’s a very real £3000 at stake. I commend the work that all Perth & Kinross students undertake through YPI. The skills and passion developed through YPI are so important and applicable throughout life – whether education, work or adventure.”

Headteacher at Pitlochry High School Thirza Pupillo described YPI as a ‘unique opportunity for students to showcase all the learning and skills they have developed through their time at Pitlochry High School’ and said:

“The manner in which YPI has grown and developed over the years is excellent, and to have witnessed how readily our students have embraced the opportunity and developed meaningful partnerships with local charities is fantastic. However, what makes YPI stand out is the subject matter. Our students are dealing with very real social issues; quite often issues that directly affect the lives of people and families living within our school community. Furthermore, our students are taking responsibility for a very real £3000, and we ask them to think critically about how this money might make a significant difference to their local community. YPI Scotland has a strong role to play through our curriculum and ethos at Pitlochry High School; and that ethos extends beyond the four walls of the classroom. I am delighted that all Perth & Kinross secondary schools are now engaged in the programme – whether a small rural school or a large city centre campus, simply put, the programme works. I’m delighted to see the manner in which our students, and students across Perth & Kinross, have embraced the programme and reached out to the wider community.”

Pictures by Fraser Band