Speakers

This year is the 10th Anniversary of our Awards and keeping things fresh each year is high on our agenda.  The beneficiary of the fundraising activities at our Awards Dinner is our charity partner, My Name’5 Doddie Foundation and breaking with tradition this year, we decided that rather than having an individual speaker, we would have an ‘In Conversation’ on stage.

We are absolutely thrilled to be welcoming two iconic and stalwart supporters of Doddie and the Foundation, both of whom are legends in their own rights.  Bruce Aitchison of Happiness is Egg Shaped will be chatting with John Davidson of ORCA Scotland and we cannot wait!

MORE ABOUT JOHN DAVIDSON

“It’s amazing what can be achieved when people leave their comfort zone.”

Having been asked to leave school at 15 with no qualifications, John joined the Army via a few dead-end jobs.  He served in two Special Forces units, including 22 SAS and was awarded Mention in Dispatches whilst serving in the Military.  A sought after speaker, John’s story takes resilience, fortitude and admirable values to whole new levels, his approach to life is nothing short of awe-inspiring.

Since leaving the armed forces, John has forged a successful career using the skills learned from war zones around the world – from being a bodyguard, to being involved in negotiations with terrorists – convincing them to cease fire and open up dialogue to discuss ending their armed struggle. He’s been shot down in a helicopter and in a plane, not to mention on terra firma. He’s also been a kidnap for ransom hostage negotiator and worked in some of the worlds’ hotspots, but a solo 3,000-mile row in a 28-foot boat has been his “biggest challenge yet”.

In December 2019, John rowed solo across the Atlantic Ocean, in 75 days, as part of the 2019 Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. In his epic voyage from San Sebastian de La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua in the Caribbean, John raised more than £80,000 for My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.  He is one of under 100 people to row the Atlantic solo, the first SAS soldier to do so, and also, the oldest Scot to have completed the world’s toughest row.  He endured a couple of broken autopilots, sea-sickness, a debilitating virus and one of the hardest solo crossings in the history of the race.

“Memories of the sickness and struggle will fade with the passage of time and the sea could be terrifying, but I’ll always treasure the wildlife I witnessed, the sunrises and sunsets I saw and the clarity of thought I experienced. When the going got tough, and it did, many, many times, I just remembered why I started all this in the first place, because I was inspired by Doddie Weir and his indefatigable spirit in his battle with Motor Neurone Disease.”

John now takes his life lessons and unique experiences with his business, Escape to Educate to inspire people of every age.  Whether you’re looking to boost your organisation’s resilience, empathy and team spirit with an immersive outdoor experience full of practical, lifelong lessons led by John, or you’re looking for the best person to lead and inspire children to learn tools to help them reach their potential by building confidence and motivation levels.  John is in high demand and for speaking engagements, he is represented by Speaker Buzz.

John’s most recent venture is Ocean Rowing Coastal Adventures ORCA Scotland North Coast 500, a rowing adventure around the coastline of Scotland for schools and corporations.  The challenge will test resilience, build teamwork and develop skills for life and work.  John has partnered with Ewan, Jamie and Lachlan MacLean, three brothers from Edinburgh, with many years of experience at leading each other astray in hostile environments, to launch ORCA Scotland. The brothers set three world records rowing the Atlantic in 35 days, enduring sleep deprivation, technical failures and each other’s company.

Every year since 2013, John has ridden a motorbike across North America with Sons of Royalty to help raise nearly £250k for Childline.

With charity always close to heart, in May 2020, John rallied more than 160+ Ocean rowers to row 20 miles from their ergs at to help raise more than £231k as part of the Around the World in One Day campaign for NHS Charities Together.

A truly awe-inspiring yet humble person despite his considerable achievements, time spent in John’s company could not fail to leave you inspired and reflecting upon your life and how to make the best of it.

MORE ABOUT BRUCE AITCHISON

Bruce Aitchison is a PE Teacher by trade and a Housemaster at Merchiston Castle School.  Outwith work, he’s in high demand as an after dinner speaker, hospitality host, stadium announcer and event MC.  Bruce is well known in Scottish Rugby circles, he played (slowly according to him!), he coaches, he supports, he educates, he reads about it, talks about it, thinks about it and quite often even dreams about it!  He’s a champion of the game at all levels, exemplified by his creation of the legendary brand, Happiness is Egg Shaped, borne from his love of Rugby Union.

Bruce loves to talk and can often be found near a microphone.  Having initially launched Happiness is Egg Shaped on Facebook (22.5K+ followers), he added Twitter in December 2015 (10.8K followers) and most recently, with a dedicated website: http://happinessiseggshaped.org/  One of his posts recently reached 8.2 million people!

Early on in the Happiness journey, Bruce realised he wasn’t alone in his passion for rugby, many others have been infected by this great game too;  like him, for life.  Via the ‘Happiness Is’ podcasts and video interviews, Bruce explores peoples’ passions, what makes them happy and chats about their hopes and dreams for the future.  Recent interviewees include Jim Telfer, Tim Visser, Eilidh Barbour, Richie Gray, Dougie Vipond and Mark Beaumont.

Happiness Is Egg Shaped entered the Apple rugby podcast charts at number 11 on the day it launched in February of this year and was recently named one of the top rugby podcasts by Wooden Spoon.  To be named alongside ‘The Official Scottish Rugby Podcast’, ‘The Good, The Bad and The Rugby’ – hosted by James Haskell, Mike Tindall and Alex Payne and The Times and Sunday Times’ ‘The Ruck Rugby Podcast’ is an outstanding achievement, especially since Bruce’s podcasts only started a few months ago.

“Now Happiness is Egg Shaped is growing, there is merchandise, blogs, educational talks, after dinner speeches, Christmas Carols and all sorts of other rugby related nonsense!  I love it all and feel very grateful that others seem to like it too!”

In January of this year during Doddie Aid (the brainchild of former Scotland captain, Rob Wainwright), Bruce was the main host for countless interviews and online events with the Team Captains, TV stars and presenters, Gold medal winning Olympic athletes and the great and good of rugby, past and present. Doddie Aid raised an incredible £1 million for My Name’5 Doddie Foundation by encouraging people all over the world to get out and be active. Plenty of famous faces got involved too including Gerard Butler, Sir Chris Hoy, Lorraine Kelly and James Nesbitt.

Bruce’s infectious positivity and enthusiasm for life never fail to leave those who meet him with a new vigour for life!  He is married to his long suffering (his words, not ours!) wife Nichola, and Dad to Maisie (12), Katy (10) and dog Maggy.

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The Awards Dinner is now sold out, however if you would be interested in attending, please click HERE where you can register to join the Waiting List and we’ll let you know if any tickets become available.

To find out more about membership of WeDO Scotland, click HERE.