Moray Sport Student Wins Best Social Impact Business at CREATE

Nine out of 15 finalists shared in a record prize fund of £8,500 after pitching their idea to a panel of the region’s top business and enterprise professionals on Wednesday in Inverness.

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Gary Souter, HNC Coaching and Developing Sport student and Clarrie Murdoch, Impact Hub Inverness.

The Business Competition is run by CREATE, the Highlands and Islands Centre for Enterprise and Innovation based at Inverness College UHI. Now in its 14th year, the competition supports and encourages entrepreneurship within the university but also across the wider Highlands and Islands, helping people to take the first steps on the road to starting their own business.

The competition is open to all students studying across the University of the Highlands and Islands partnership, as well as non-students living in the Highlands & Islands, Moray and Perthshire. The competition attracted 90 entries, including 68 from students across the University partnership.

100 guests attended the final at Inverness College UHI, which followed an action packed day of pitches by finalists to a panel of experts including Anisha Macdermid, Exclamation Marketing! Gavin Ross, SGL Carbon; Clarrie Murdoch, Impact Hub Inverness; and Mark Bell, Impact 30.

The top prize of £1000 and a combined legal and accountancy package worth £2000 went to Alison Ruickbie, from Elgin, for her zero waste shop Re:Store, which opened in Lossiemouth in October 2019.

Best Social Impact Business prize of £750 was awarded to Moray College UHI, HNC Coaching and Developing Sport student, Gary Souter who lives in Elgin. The award was sponsored by Essence of Harris, Impact Hub Inverness and The Apprentice Store.

Gary is a football coach and knows how expensive it can be for parents to enable their children to participate in the game, with costs ranging from fees to travel and kit. His business, Kitstart, looks to level the financial playing field for young footballers in Moray by providing essential, second-hand kit so kids from all backgrounds can access the sport.

Having seen several examples of similar, charitable projects elsewhere, Gary says a discreet pay-what-you-can service for parents and families would allow all Moray children to help realise their dreams without discrimination. A pay it forward service would also allow people to help others.

Gary said: “So many children will miss out on organised football opportunities because of the escalated costs associated with participation. I remember how difficult it was for my parents and then for myself, keeping up with the financial demands of the game - constantly growing out of boots; having to buy pairs to suit all the different surfaces. Anything that can be done to help reduce these costs is a good thing and that’s what inspired me to pursue this project.”

The HNC Coaching and Developing Sport course delivered at Moray College UHI is designed for students to develop an understanding of both the theoretical and practical issues relating to a career in sports coaching for indoor and outdoor sports.

Kelly McLaren, Deputy Head of Curriculum said: “We are extremely proud of Gary’s fantastic achievement and Kitstart idea. He has a strong passion for ensuring football is accessible to all, and he works continuously to improve opportunities for children across Moray.

During his HNC in Coaching and Development, he will be delivering football sessions within the community which will help him gain the contacts and access to getting the Kitstart programme established.  We will continue to support Gary in any way that we can going forward. Well done Gary from everyone at Moray College UHI.”

Photo provided by Inverness College UHI.