Alan Myles is a man on a mission. Living in the Cairngorms with his young family, Alan works with schools at Alltnacriche and is also the Regional Worker for an area that stretches from the Outer Hebrides across the country towards Banff near Aberdeen.
On Friday 4th March he will be setting off on his mission - a cycle ride visiting all the mainland secondary schools in his patch. At the end of his four day, 320 mile journey, he will have pedalled the height of Everest, gone coast to coast to coast and halfway back again, and taken the most indirect route from Mallaig to Fort William you can imagine.
We had a chat about why…
Alan, apparently you hold the award for having the longest job title in SU Scotland, what exactly is it?
For precision's sake, it is Schools Programme Coordinator (Alltnacriche) and Regional Worker for Moray, South Highlands and Islands.
So, briefly, what does that mean?
Aiming to be briefer than the job title itself, it means I liaise with all school groups using the Alltnacriche centre through the Classroom Outdoors programme to ensure the trip fulfils their requirements.
The second part of the job title references the work that I do supporting volunteers, churches and schools within the stated region. Whilst ‘supporting’ takes many forms, helping to set up and then support the running of SU groups in schools is a key part of the role.
You are one of the fittest guys I know. How come?
I came to SU Scotland through being involved in sports ministry, first through Ambassadors Football, then establishing a Christian outreach football team and most recently with the Church of Scotland.
I love that God has given everybody different talents and interests. Traditionally, the Church has used the arts to successfully reach those drawn to the arts. I love being able to do similar with those who are drawn to the outdoors and sporting activities.
So, surely this ride will be a breeze for you?
Breeze is an interesting word as I check the weather forecast daily. I have seen everything from -10 temperatures to 4.2cm of rain in a day to 55mph headwinds, which I think is more than a breeze, technically.
Whilst I have ridden 100 miles in a day a few times, doing it four times in a row will be a whole new experience.
Tell us, why are you undertaking this new and punishing experience?
My work covers a vast area in which there are so many open opportunities for people to serve God. Part of the ride is to highlight that if I can ride right across area, then I can certainly jump in the car and come and speak to anybody that is interested in getting involved.
Another part is to raise financial support, particularly for the Regional Worker part of the post which is currently underfunded. But most importantly, I want people to know what goes on around the area and then to pray for the work.
For example, can I ask as you read this, to pray for the Moray and South Highlands weekend at Alltnacriche on 11th to 13th March, which has 40 young people coming along to explore the Bible together.
Of course we will, that will probably be a challenge too! Alan, without blowing your own trumpet, how important is the work that you, and the volunteers you work with, undertake?
I am humbled by the volunteers I meet, and whilst I am not directly involved in very much day-to-day ministry with young people, the stories that the volunteers tell me are wonderful.
Even with my support, the job they do can be very hard, and sometimes it might not start at all without an initial conversation between me and a school. So without my role, potentially many young people would not hear God’s word in their school, or possibly at all.
Why are you working for SU Scotland?
SU Scotland provides an excellent reputation and framework of programmes to work with, and the joint opportunities of working at Alltnacriche and across the region always keeps things interesting and varied.
It is also a great pleasure to work with so many talented colleagues and volunteers; some even see it as part of their job to do some of the cycling with me!
How can we get involved?
Firstly, please pray that the roads are kind to me and the team, and that I can pace myself to have enough in the tank to complete the whole challenge.
If you would like to provide regular financial support for SU Scotland in the area I work, you can visit www.suscotland.org.uk/donate and choose to support my ministry (Alan Myles).
If you would be able to sponsor me you can do so at www.justgiving.org.uk/320Myles, or by texting ‘MYLS32 £5’ or ‘MYLS32 £10’ to 70700.
On the actual ride, you can follow the action live via Google Maps. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org so I can add you to the list.
Can you tell me two truths and a lie about yourself?
I know and can perform the 1st-5th Ballet positions. I hold the record for the fastest 10 mile time trial on the UK’s highest flat course, and I have successfully grown Pineapples in Aviemore.
Any final words of wisdom?
Not really – if at first you don’t succeed – sky diving is not for you? Before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes. That way you will be a mile away and you’ll have his shoes?
Feeling inspired by Alan?
I know I was, and have volunteered to join him on day two of his ride. If you would be interested in doing a fundraising event for SU Scotland, either on your own or with others, visit www.suscotland.org.uk/fundraising for all the info you will need.
We will find out how the ride goes in the next couple of weeks.