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Monday, May 20, 2024

Lee Craigie, Outdoor Ambassador and Adventurer, Wins Top Mountain Award

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Organisers of The Fort William Mountain Festival are delighted to announce that Lee Craigie, mountain bike adventurer and cross country mountain bike racer, nomadic storyteller, author, outdoor therapist, award winning film maker, campaigner for active travel, and champion for women in the outdoors, is the 17th recipient of the Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture, sponsored by JAHAMA Highland Estates.

Born in Glasgow to a sporting family, Lee Craigie has always had a passion for exploration and adventure in the outdoors and for promoting its physical and mental health benefits.

It was the driving force behind her outdoor education degree and a three year Post Graduate Training in Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy.

In her early career Lee worked as a technical mountaineering guide in the USA and Australia, as an outdoor instructor and group facilitator for Colorado Outward Bound, as an outreach worker for Fairbridge Edinburgh, and as a freelance outdoor instructor for Local Education Authority centres, and for Ratho, Venture Trust, Radical Outdoors, and Venture Scotland.

While working for the Highland Council’s pupil support service in 2007, Lee Craigie founded Cycletherapy.

She delivered cycle training to marginalised young people in the Scottish Highlands until 2010.

Since then, Cycletherapy has continued to work effectively one to one with young people excluded from school using mountain bike riding and mechanics to reengage them with education or training. 

Having begun mountain biking to relieve the pressures of secondary school, Lee went on to become a successful cross country mountain bike racer.  

In 2009 she won both the Scottish Series and Scottish Championship titles.  

Between 2010 and 2014 she turned professional, winning the British Mountain Bike Championship in 2013.  

Her successful racing career continued as a member of Team GB at World and European Championships and Team Scotland at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. 

Lee recognised the secret to her sporting success lay in her love of exploring big mountains by bike, always fascinated by the places we can all take ourselves to emotionally and physically by pushing our perceived limits in wild places.  

It led her to set up The Adventure Syndicate in 2016.

The not-for-profit organisation is a collective of female adventurers of all ages who work collaboratively to help one another in pursuit of a common outcome: to enable more people to experience the mental, physical, and environmental benefits of adventuring, exploring the outdoors, connecting to nature, and moving sustainably for the good of their health and happiness and that of the environment.  

The organisation also arranges gatherings of women and girls, focused on outdoor adventure and exploration, to increase levels of self-belief and confidence, and to enable them to acknowledge their capabilities and potential.

Between 2019 and 2022 Lee took on the role of Scotland’s first Active Nation Commissioner.

As an official representative of walking, cycling and physical activity across the nation Lee supported the promotion of a new infrastructure to encourage more people to become more physically active.  

Building on this three-year posting Lee was appointed as Scotland’s Ambassador for Active Travel, an independent of Government engagement role from 2022 to 2023.

Championing diverse and inclusive participation in active travel and active travel decision-making, she offered a strong, trusted, and impartial voice to broaden and deepen the public conversation.

This led to her being awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society in 2021.

On hearing the news of winning the Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture, Lee Craigie said:

“As if mountains themselves have not given me enough over the years, I was deeply honoured to learn I was the recipient of the coveted Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture from Fort William Mountain Festival in 2024.

“Wild places have always offered me perspective, gratitude, and calm.

“Their consistency and timelessness continue to ground me in this fast paced and ever-changing world, and I am passionate about ensuring more people can connect with them and access them in respectful ways.

“In doing so, we connect with ourselves, our past and our collective future and it’s events like FWMF that ensure more and more people from diverse backgrounds have these opportunities.

“Thank you so much for recognising my efforts and I hope to see some of you on a hillside one day soon.”

Tom Uppington, Managing Director, Alvance British Aluminium, sponsor of the Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture, commented:

“As the regular sponsors of this prestigious award for Excellence in Mountain Culture, we are absolutely thrilled that Lee Craigie has been recognised for her inspirational work and tireless devotion to encouraging the public to access walking, cycling and physical activity across Scotland.  

“JAHAMA Highland Estates (part of Alvance British Aluminium, based in Lochaber) greatly values the hugely significant impact of Lee’s dedication to ensuring marginalised young people from across the Scottish Highlands have access to high quality cycle training, and her work with the Adventure Syndicate which inspires adolescent girls to be physically active.

“Our own company roots can be traced back to cycle manufacturing and being based here in the Outdoor Capital of the UK, Lee’s selfless contribution to inspiring the next generation of future cyclists, resonates strongly with our own company values of family, change and sustainability.”

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