Conference Speakers

Delegates heard from the very best …

The speaker programme at this year’s Scottish Sports Development Conference was educational, thought provoking and informative and was delivered by professionals who are involved at the very heart of sport, UK wide.

Stewart Harris  Stewart Harris, Chief Executive, sportscotland

Stewart was appointed Chief Executive of sportscotland in November 2005. He was previously Acting Chief Executive of the organisation, and before that was Director of Widening Opportunities.  Stewart brings a wealth of experience to the role including 12 years as a PE teacher, a lifelong involvement with basketball in Scotland as a board member, club and international coach for 25 years at both Scottish and Great Britain student level, as well as extensive experience of working with local authorities. In his post as Director of Widening Opportunities, Stewart was responsible for developing the School Sport Co-ordinator Programme and Active Schools Network, which is playing a key part in increasing physical activity levels of children in schools across Scotland.

Rt Hon Henry McLeish -web  The Rt Hon Henry McLeish

Henry McLeish, a former professional football player, began his political career in Fife in the early 1970s, working his way through the ranks of the Kirkcaldy District Council and the Fife Regional Council. Elected to the UK Parliament in 1987, he was the MP for Central Fife from 1987 to 2001 and the MSP for Central Fife from 1999 to 2003, during which time he also served as the second First Minister of Scotland, from 2000 to 2001. During the past few years, he has been visiting professor and lecturer at a number of universities in the US, teaching European Union studies and UK Government and Politics. He is currently Visiting Professor of European Studies at the University of Arkansas and Honorary Professor at Edinburgh University. He is a published author and a regular contributor to newspapers and broadcasting. He was a member of the Broadcasting Commission and Chair of the Scottish Prisons Commission, both set up by the Scottish Government. He is Chair of the National Mining Museum of Scotland and was Chair of a major review of Scottish football commissioned by the SFA. He now chairs a Sports Commission for the Scottish Government and has recently been appointed by the Government to lead the Glasgow Colleges’ Regional Board and is also Chair of Colleges Scotland

Corporate  Barbara Slater OBE, Director of Sport, BBC

Barbara took up her role as Director of Sport in 2009. Her responsibilities include working with governing bodies to retain a broad portfolio of broadcasting rights, overseeing the planning and coverage of major sporting events and leading the sports journalism operation at BBC Sport’s new base in Salford. In 2012 Barbara was responsible for the BBC’s cross-platform sports coverage of the London Olympic Games – the most watched TV event in UK broadcasting history. She was awarded the Inspirational Woman Prize at the Women in Film and Television Awards in recognition of this achievement and was appointed a member of the International Olympic Committee Radio and Television Commission for 2013. Barbara joined the BBC in 1983 as a trainee assistant producer in the Natural History Unit in Bristol, but has spent most of her career as a producer in BBC Sport. She grew up in Birmingham and was an international gymnast, competing for Great Britain at the Olympic Games in Montreal in 1976. Barbara was awarded an OBE in 2014 for services to sports broadcasting.

Williamson, David  David Williamson, Research Manager, sportscotland

David is passionate about encouraging people to use information and data to help them plan: “data helps us ask better questions”.  David led on several high profile research projects for sportscotland and now leads their research team. As part of this team, David is driving a strategic research approach, which explores the impact of sportscotland’s work, and provides tools and resources to help people use this data. This approach prioritises learning and continuous improvement, while putting the minimum burden on people collecting data. David is leading on the development of a new online analysis tool titled ‘Pathway’, where users can map out the sports activity in schools and clubs, and the pathways where people can move from school to community sport.

TF15320 Homeless World Cup  Mel Young, President and co-Founder, Homeless World Cup

Mel is recognised as one of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs. He is a Schwab Fellow of the World Economic Forum. He is a Senior Ashoka Fellow. Previously he worked as a journalist; co-founded The Big Issue in Scotland in 1993; co-founded Senscot (Social Entrepreneurs Network Scotland); former co-founder, President and Honorary President of INSP (International Network of Street Papers). He also set up City Lynx magazine and New Consumer Magazine and worked on a community newspaper in Wester Hailes in Edinburgh in 1990s. He is currently President of the Homeless World Cup, which he co-founded in 2003, and has built a new social business Homeless World Cup Supporters Club which launched in 2014 ( He is non-executive Vice Chairman of sportscotland and a non-executive director of Glasgow Life; he is a member of the World Economic Forum Sports Agenda Council. Mel has been awarded five honorary degrees and is the author of Goal: The story of the Homeless World Cup.

Commonwealth Games 2014 Mens Weightlifting  94 KG  Viorel Etko, Commonwealth Games Wrestling Medal Winner

Born in Moldova, Viorel (Vio) came to Britain seeking asylum in 1994 and has become a popular figure in Scottish wrestling, as a competitor and coach, based in Aberdeenshire. After finishing fifth in the Delhi Games he retired from the sport to concentrate on coaching but was persuaded to return for Glasgow 2014 where he won a bronze medal – he did so in order to provide inspiration for a new generation of Scottish wrestlers.

Mathieson, Craig - v2  Craig Mathieson, Polar Explorer

Craig is a Polar explorer, story teller and one of the most authentic adventurers of our time. Craig is an accomplished speaker with years of experience with groups at all levels, be it major corporate conferences, motivational lectures or after-dinner speeches. Craig launched the Polar Academy in February 2014 – a new charity focusing on Scottish children.  The Academy has visited high schools and youth programmes to deliver the message of ‘Inspiration through Exploration’ and has offered 20 young people between the ages of 14 and 17 the opportunity to be part of an Expedition to Greenland. Craig returned from this adventure one week prior to Conference.


Charlie Flynn - webCharlie Flynn

Delegates at the Conference Dinner on Monday 27 April heard from Commonwealth Gold Medal Winner, Charlie Flynn:                                                      

“I started boxing at the age of 7 and won my first fight at 11.  I never once entered the ring believing that I would be beaten. My attitude has always been ‘I’m the main man’. This attitude has served me well over the years and that’s why I’m the Senior Scottish, British and Commonwealth Champion. I’ve turned professional now and fully expect to be world champion in the not too distant future.  Remember: ‘The mailman always delivers’.”