Scottish Mountain Biking Local Hero 2019

This award celebrates and recognises a local hero nominated by someone in their community. We were looking for the person who has made the most impact to their local MTB community. 

We asked you to nominate the person in your community, whom you believe contributes more to the local MTB scene than anyone else, without whom things just wouldn't happen. Someone whose absolute passion, dedication and determination makes them stand out from the crowd. 

This was your shortlist for 2019 and the winner was Aneela McKenna!

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Aneela Mckenna


A wee extract from Aneela's nomination - 

Aneela is a partner of ​Go-Where Scotland​; she’s a core member of the guiding ​team​ and since 2016 has driven the ​Mountain Lassies’ ​programmes and signature ‘Afternoon Tea’ rides. But having gone part time in her corporate role as Diversity Manager at the Scottish Parliament, she has taken the plunge to follow her passion in mountain biking and encouraging people from all walks of life to swing a leg over a saddle.

Aneela is passionate about encouraging people from all walks of life to ride bikes and she works with individuals, organisations and the cycling industry to encourage wider participation. She works tirelessly to increase diversity in mountain biking and firmly believes that mountain biking is more than a sport – she’s a champion of the wider benefits of mountain biking in building confidence, strength and resilience in everyday life. With over 20 years’ diversity and inclusion experience, Aneela has been connecting her diversity work to mountain biking promoting diversity and wellbeing; women in MTB leadership; diversity role models; young girls in sport and promoting mental health. Her achievements are highlighted on the ​Go Where Mor Diversity​ page.
Aneela has been an inspiration to many - her recent ​article in the Metro​ explain the struggles she has had and what has led her to her achievements to date. Many people who use mountain biking to help cope with other aspects of life don’t talk about their challenges but Aneela has opened about her life with her husband Andy who has MS and how mountain biking has literally saved her life. She supported her husband to raise over £50,000 for Overcoming MS with the launch of their campaign and film ​This Way Up​. Our small community of riders have been drawn towards her honesty and can relate to her story in so many ways. Life is not always easy and Aneela is not afraid to speak up. Her own experiences in life have driven her towards ensuring that others have the opportunities she didn’t have and help people to realise their potential and that each and everyone of us has so much to offer.

Aneela is clearly an asset to the community and is much loved by everyone. She deserves to be given this award for all her efforts and contributions and making mountain biking inclusive, fun and empowering.

Doug Blease

Doug Blease

A wee extract from one of the nominations received for Doug.

Doug is the chairman of the Aberdeenshire Trail Association. He has worked tirelessly to encourage and involve new riders not just with the associations work but by riding with them and building a supportive environment. His is a huge advocate for responsible access and use of trails and has been championing educating the riding community to promote responsible access. 

The ATA open door and encouraging atmosphere has been driven by Doug wanting to make everyone included. I think a big contributor to the significant increase in younger riders and ladies joining the sessions has been Doug going out of his way to engage with people. He actively supports and promotes local events contributing his own time to support inititives that grow the scene. His stewardship of the ATA has been a huge contribution to the local trail network and of the overall strategy of the group.

He is really focused on supporting others to enjoy mountain biking in a responsible way. A real champion of the sport as you can see from his circle of friends who a significant number have only started mountain biking in the last year and are now fully engrossed in the sport thanks to his encouragement and guidance. His positivity, knowledge and willingness to sacrifice his time for others demonstrate why is he would be a humble but very deserving winner of the award.

Andy Wardman

Andy Wardman

Andy runs the Glentress Trailfairy group and is instrumental in keeping the existing trail network in good shape and designing new trails.

Andy has a fantastic eye for trail development and just listening to the feedback from the MTB community about sections he has designed is fantastic. Andy designed Happy Ending at Glentress for the Tweedlove festival a couple of years ago and watching and listening to the racers at the event just showed how much they appreciate his skills.

Andy works relentlessly on the trail network and to see his passion is fantastic. He has been known to work well in to the night to make sure a trail is running perfectly. He has even been known to adjust a section of trail on race morning because he felt it would make the trail run better.

Willie Watt

Willie Watt

Part of the nomination for Willie...

I am nominating Willie Watt for this award, for his great volunteering contribution to the local (and not so local) cycling community and also for his ever-present enthusiasm for all things mountain bike.

• He has helped and coached at Discovery Junior Cycling Club since 2012 a time during which participation in Mountain biking has increased 4-fold.

• Leading/coaching the more advanced kids as well as simply teaching kids to ride a bike.

• With a focus on beginners, Willie has been a coach and helper at Wolfpax Riders at Laggan near Newtonmore since 2014, despite it being a 2 hour drive from Dundee.

• Willie has taken on administrative work too, being chairperson at Wolfpax since 2017

• Every year, Willie provides over 200 hours voluntary coaching time spread across Dundee and Wolfpax alongside much more administration and PR time to promote the club/experience.

• Willie regularly joins in scout cycling trips as a parent support helper, also giving advice and first aid back up

• Willie Cycles regularly himself and actively helps encourage cycling within the workplace.

A number of years ago there were no mountain bike facilities in Dundee. Willie and his son Fraser saw this as a void in the area - why doesn’t Dundee have its own mountain bike trail? Fraser, then school age, wrote to the council drawing attention to the need for such a facility – It took some time but eventually the end result was Templeton Tangle Mountain Bike Trail on the northern outskirts of Dundee.

In my view this trail is a very important facility for Dundee, a local opportunity for improving health, fitness and wellbeing, which may not have existed without Frasers input and the direct support from Willie. It makes mountain biking accessible to the kids (and adults) of Dundee City where previously the prospect of long distance travel to other sites would have seemed a barrier to many.

Willie now coaches at the that same bike trail. Membership and participation locally has increased 3-fold and in particular where he has focused on training entry level riders. This in turn has attracted many more young riders thus lowering average participation age, clearly a very healthy state of affairs.

In other areas, Willie facilitated links between RGU’s School of Architecture and Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland. Willie developed the design brief and tutored the students as they planned a Mountain Bike Trail Centre for Aberdeenshire. This project was an early catalyst in the development of NETCO (North East Trail Centre Organisation) at Durris Forest, situated between Stonehaven and Banchory.

Some amazing folks out there huh?  We hope you enjoyed reading just a snippet of each of these nominations.

The winner will be announced at the Scottish Mountain Bike Awards in Innerleithen on 21st November.  

Joint Winners 2018 - Steve Bradley and Natalie Murray 


 Here's just some of what was said about Steve's importance in his community:

"For the last 3 years Steve has been inspiring youngsters at our Saturday kids club. He gives up his time week in and week out to take a group of kids riding on the local trails. He has developed them as riders, inspires them and educates them on responsible riding.
Steve understands the importance of trail maintenance and usually has a tool or two in his rucksack, often stopping on rides to clear drainage ditches, fix a broken bit of boardwalk or replace a couple of rocks. His passion for his local trails and enthusiasm rubs off on others and he has worked tirelessly to instill respect of the trails and the work they require into his young riders. He has organized working parties for trail maintenance and is always 1st there and last to leave. He is passionate about keeping the trails natural and in keeping with the local environment. He has spent many hundreds of hours of his own time over the years on the local trails in the area to great benefit of local riders and vistors alike."


Here's a little of Natalie's qualities that has made her so popular in her community:

"Natalie has an incredible passion to get as many people involved with biking as possible, she wants them to love it as much as she does and aims to inspire all ages to have a go!

She started voluntary work for the Highland Skate Parks Association (the charity that run the bike pump track and skate park in inverness) almost 5 years ago and she is now the current chairperson for the association. Through her volunteer work with HSPA she has now established regular and very popular bike camps during the school holidays at the pump track as well as previously running evening indoor sessions at a local community center during the winter, providing kids with fantastic facilities and opportunities to work on their bike skills. Both types of supervised sessions have created chances for local kids to have a go and learn to develop their biking abilities using ramps and the pump track."


Scottish Mountain Biking Local Hero 2016 - Sally Devlin

Scottish Mountain Biking Local Hero 2017 - Barbara Murray and Euan Speirits