As The Courier launches its new competition for community groups to win a minibus, Gayle Ritchie meets last year’s winners.
The lucky winners of last year’s Courier Minibus Competition can sum up the feeling of winning in one, simple word – brilliant.
The RockSolid Youth Project is based in Douglas, Dundee, one of Scotland’s poorest communities, where 36% of children are classed as living in poverty.
Director Neil Campbell said the £40,000 prize had made a staggering difference to the group, which had struggled in the past with the expense of hiring transport for trips around the country.
“It’s been a huge boost,” he said. “It’s been brilliant for taking the young folk out and about on adventures.
“We’ve been up to Aberdeen to Codonas amusement park, to Edinburgh, down to Stirling, to Broughty Ferry beach, to Fife and to various residential courses.
“We don’t have to worry about hiring a bus to get us places – we can just do it.”
Neil said the vehicle had been fantastic over summer as the been able to respond to the weather.
“On good days we go to beaches or parks for barbecues, while on bad days, we head to indoor attractions,” he added.
“The minibus has really benefited us in terms of opening up opportunities and getting us to places we’d never have had the chance to go to otherwise.”
Tens of thousands of tokens were collected by readers keen to secure the minibus for their community group last year.
To register your group to take part this year, visit www.thecourier.co.uk/minibus
After months of collecting, 175 groups were in the running, before RockSolid was drawn at random by Courier editor Richard Neville.
“Everyone rallied round to help collect tokens and in the end, we had them coming out of our ears,” said Neil.
“Lots of people who weren’t able to help out financially were able to go off and buy their copy of The Courier and give us tokens, so it was a win-win for everyone.
“We sent in 2,500, which was 50 entries as it was 50 tokens per entry. This increased the odds of winning.”
When The Courier’s assistant editor Dave Lord turned up to hand over the keys to RockSolid last year, everyone was over the moon.
“It was a Friday night and none of the youngsters knew anything about it,” said Neil.
“They were all waiting in the hall, having been told they’d be getting a special surprise.
“Most of them thought they were getting a pizza delivery, so when they found out they’d won a minibus, they were ecstatic.”
The youth project was launched in 2011 and works with around 40 youngsters aged 10 to 18 in the east of Dundee.
Giving them the chance to be active in their local area, RockSolid also gives participants a role in deciding on activities and is responsible for organising events and fundraisers.