Meet the Finalists: Volunteer Youth Worker

Sponsored by Young Scot

Young Scot logo

Declan Patterson, Castlemilk Youth Complex

In Castlemilk in Glasgow, one young volunteer stands out as a source of inspiration and support. Meet Declan, his journey from high school to youth work volunteer speaks to the transformative power of youth work.  

Declan’s involvement at Castlemilk Youth Complex touches upon many components of youth work, from attending community youth work skills classes to lead the reinstatement of senior youth work club nights. His dedication to volunteering extends to Bike Club with the Streetwise team, the Hub Team, work experience in Complex Café, and completing Complex skills with the employability team. Recently, he even achieved his snowboarding qualification with Snow Camp. 

What makes him exceptional is his innate ability to connect with his peers. His patience and commitment shine through as he dedicates countless hours to support local youth work. Notably, he played a pivotal role in launching senior night, a space tailored for older young people.  

Declan’s journey hasn’t been without challenges. As someone on the autism spectrum, he brings a unique perspective to youth work, serving as a positive role model for his peers. Through his knowledge gained from the community youth work skills class, he brings real-world solutions to grassroots youth work. 

His encouragement and support have empowered younger staff members to overcome their fears and seize opportunities, as evidenced by their unforgettable trip to Glencoe. 

As Grace, one of the young people who Declan mentored said: “Declan should be nominated as he is the best volunteer ever! His support and encouragement have not only transformed individual lives but have also created a ripple effect within the community.” 

Find out more:  



Moira Lawrence, Girlguiding Scotland

For three decades, Moira Lawrence has been an integral part of Girlguiding Scotland, giving voice to girls and young women across the country.  

Moira’s journey with Girlguiding Scotland has been an exciting adventure. Through her range of roles and responsibilities, she has led girls and fellow volunteers on exhilarating experiences, instilling in them a love for the outdoors and a spirit of exploration. Her enthusiasm and dedication shine through, inspiring those around her to reach new heights. 

At the core of Moira’s work lies her commitment to fostering confidence and resilience in young members. From organising camps and outdoor events to leading international excursions, she ensures that every experience is infused with opportunities for growth and self-discovery. Her meticulous planning, coupled with her boundless compassion, creates a nurturing environment where girls thrive and create lasting memories. 

Throughout the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, Moira’s ingenuity and resourcefulness came to the fore. She pioneered online camping experiences, offering girls a sense of adventure and camaraderie from the safety of their homes. Her unique approach not only kept the spirit of Girlguiding alive but also provided young members with a much-needed sense of normality during uncertain times.

Beyond her role as an outdoor activity adviser, Moira serves as a mentor to aspiring leaders, guiding them on their journey towards personal and professional growth. Her nurturing of the next generation of volunteers means that her mission to empower young girls will continue into the next generation.  

Find out more:  




Willie Mowbray, Larkhall YMCA

Since 1981, Willie Mowbray has been the backbone of Larkhall YMCA, dedicating over 42 years to shaping the lives of young people in his community.  

Willie’s impact extends far beyond the athletics track. Generations of young people have found guidance and support under his mentorship, with some current young athletes being the children of those he coached decades ago. His coaching prowess, coupled with his unparalleled dedication, has earned him the reputation of being the kindest and most generous youth worker in the club. 

At the heart of Willie’s approach is his firm belief in the transformative power of athletics as a form of youth work. Through personalised guidance and unwavering support, he empowers young people to not only excel in sports but also to develop resilience and self-confidence. 

Under his leadership, Larkhall YMCA has become more than just an athletics club; it’s a safe space where young people find belonging and support. His work in organising trips, coaching, and celebrating young people’s achievements have gained international recognition, reflecting the positive impact he has had on countless lives. 

Ted Zokas, President of Larkhall YMCA, describes Willie as the glue that holds the community together. His dedication, especially during challenging times, has been instrumental in ensuring the YMCA’s survival and continued service to the young people of Larkhall. 

Chloe, one of the young athletes mentored by Willie, echoes the sentiments of many whose lives he has touched: “I can’t thank Willie enough for everything he has done for me. I hope this award, if he receives it, sheds a light on the tremendous amount of hours he has dedicated to all of us.” 

Find out more: