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Oscar on bike
Oscar on bike

Bursary helps competitive student get on his bike

A student in the Borders has received funding from the Langhope Rig Education and Training Fund to support his dreams of competitive mountain biking.

The Fund

The Langhope Rig Education and Training Fund, which is provided by Greencoat UK Wind, provides bursaries to residents in Ettrick & Yarrow, Lilliesleaf, Ashkirk & Midlem and Upper Teviotdale & Borthwick Water Community Council areas in the Scottish Borders.  These bursaries support local residents to access training and education opportunities that better equip them with the range of skills needed to gain or retain employment.

Oscar's story

Oscar started mountain biking at 12, and when he was 14 he started racing and gradually entered into the world of an amateur mountain bike discipline called Enduro.  Enduro racing is when the downhill section is timed, and the uphill sections are mandatory but not timed and the winner is the person who completes a set number of rounds in the least time.  The sport has grown increasing popular over the past ten years.

Oscar is usually only one of a handful of Scots racing, and he is one of the youngest to participate in his competitive age group. 

In 2022, he was placed 5th at the UK national championships, and top 10 in his other races. In the past year, he has finished in at least the top half of the race and predominately placed 15th or higher.

During his amateur racing, he started considering his future in terms of entering into professional racing and longer-term career aspirations.  It was at this point he decided to apply for the BASE Mountain Biking Course at Borders College in Galashiels.  

The BASE programme, delivered over two or three years, allows students to gain a suite of qualifications at SCQF Level 6 while developing their mountain biking skills. The course includes NPA Achieving Excellent in sport and SQA units in Psychology, Circuit Training and Planning Personal Fitness.  

Part of the course delivery will provide students with the opportunity to be coached by staff from the Dirt School at the world class mountain biking facility at Glentress, Peebles.

Competitions are not cheap, and expenses include entry fees, transport, accommodation and of course equipment costs.  

Coupled with the new equipment he would need to undertake the BASE course, Oscar realised his part-time income would not be enough to cover the course costs and he would need to seek further funding to continue racing and studying.  

With this in mind, Oscar applied for funding from the Langhope Rig Wind Farm Education and Training Fund to help him keep the momentum moving forward on his chosen path and to contribute towards costs associated with his course.  In 2023, he was formally offered a place to study Mountain Biking SCQF Level 6 (BASE) at Borders College, Galashiels.  

In his application, Oscar said:

I decided to focus on mountain biking as I knew that this was something that I wanted to study and train in after school. I am very committed to mountain biking and learning to develop my fitness, skills, and technical ability in order to reach my full potential as a rider. I was also a member of SHS bike club and, as part of this, took part in a program – Rock up and Ride – to coach primary school children from the Selkirk area to help them get involved in cycling. I also like to build tracks for myself and other local riders, and have dug tracks at Bowhill, The Haining, Yair and other local woodlands. I am very outdoorsy and enjoy spending most of my spare time outdoors. I have applied to study at BASE as I am very keen and motivated to develop my skills as a competitive racer and all-round mountain biker. As part of my course, I will study and be trained in practical aspects of mountain bike skills, technique, and fitness - as well as sports psychology and coaching qualifications – and other commercial aspects of the mountain biking industry. I hope that in undertaking this course of study, this will give me a strong foundation to go into this area of work or further study, maybe as a professional rider, coach, or design and development – as there are various opportunities for young people in mountain biking within the Scottish Borders that I would like to be involved with in the future.

Oscar applied to the Fund and, following review of his application, the Langhope Rig Panel decided to offer an award of £1,478 – the full amount applied for – to support with the requested essential items included safety equipment, riding gear and tools to support his BASE course.  

This equipment has been a game changer for Oscar in terms of having access to good quality, long lasting equipment which allows Oscar to focus on his course studies, progression and racing.   Had the grant not been awarded, Oscar would not have been able to purchase the quality equipment he needed to keep him top of his BASE course.

Oscar is currently finishing the first year of this course and he is looking forward to entering his second year in August 2024.  The course can extend to three years and Oscar has decided to take one year at a time before deciding on his next steps, but his longer-term plan is to work within the mountain biking industry.

Oscar said:

I am extremely grateful to the Langhope Rig Fund for providing funding to support the equipment needed to do my mountain biking course at the Borders College.  It has made a big difference to my riding and my performance in college.

Niome Lucjan, Community Funds Advisor for Foundation Scotland said:

The Education and Training Fund is a fantastic resource for those living in the Fund area to be able to support aspirational training and education goals.  It gives the individual a helping hand to reduce some of the financial burden and costs which can at times seem prohibitive to embarking on a learning journey.  Oscar’s story is a fantastic example of how distributing differently can make a difference and will hopefully inspire other people within the community to consider how the Fund can support their training and educational needs.

Oscar’s focus and passion has driven his success, working hard to be able to support his hobby which he plans to progress into his career and inspiring others to take up the sport. The Education and Training Fund has played a small part in progressing Oscar’s career. 

To find out more about the Fund please visit the Fund page here

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