I recently had the pleasure of visiting Scotland….again!
This time I was presenting Fairways to The Rotary Club of Kilrymont St Andrews, playing golf and exploring a wee part of Bonnie Scotland with Dave.
One thing about Scotland is you can drive in any direction and see something fantastic. From castles to ruins, caves and stone circles. And have I mentioned the golf?!
There's a course every few miles, at least so it seems to me, and I just wish we had more time to explore the country.
My introduction to the Rotary Club of Kilrymont was thanks to Gordon Moir (Head Greenskeeper at St. Andrews) once again putting me in touch with someone he knew.
I met their President, John Spittal and sat with him and Club Secretary, Grace Morris, for dinner before giving my Fairways presentation.
When I started to speak, I spotted Gordon sitting in the room. He had come to support me after a late afternoon golf tie, and I realised he had been involved with Fairways from the very beginning!
A week after coming up with the idea for Fairways, back in 2016, I was at St. Andrews watching Gordon presenting to the global staff of Truturf. Later on, I talked about my vision for Fairways with Gordon and Truturf Managing Director, Ray Dufty. I don’t think any one of us would have guessed that two years later Fairways would be helping 24 underprivileged kids in 4 countries.
Through Gordon's various connections, he has also indirectly put me in touch with Edwin in Bolivia, plus Sachin and Pratima in Nepal.
During my presentation, I was feeling nervous, which makes me speak too quickly. I took a deep breath and tried to slow it down. At the end of my speech, I was asked about the success stories of the children we support, so I gave a few examples from Canada, India and Bolivia.
When I finished, I felt fairly happy, but I still asked Dave and Gordon for feedback. They both asked, “Why didn’t you talk about Pratima?”
I could've kicked myself as I knew that was one of Fairways' best stories .
Pratima Sherpa is from Kathmandu, Nepal and for the entire 18 years of her life, has lived in a machine shed near the 4th tee of the Royal Nepal Golf Club.
From the age of 12, the club pro, Sachin Bhataratti, gave Pratima free lessons, as he realised her passion, dedication and talent. Then in 2016, Fairways heard about her via the ever-reliable Gordon, and we started paying Sachin for some of his time so he could provide Pratima with extra lessons.
Additionally, the machine shed that the Sherpa family lived in, which by the way is still 80% full of machines, didn't have any electricity. Fairways thus arranged for a solar light to be shipped there so Pratima could study at night.
As it happens, while I was in Scotland, Pratima happened to be in New York for the premiere of a documentary about her golf journey, "A Mountain To Climb." The program has since won a Sports Emmy.
And the very same day I spoke with the Rotarians, Pratima was meeting her sporting idol, Tiger Woods, who gave her a private lesson and listened to her amazing story!
I visited Pratima in late 2017 and watched her play against the Nepalese professional men. I have no doubt she will achieve her dream of becoming Nepal's first woman golf professional.
And I forgot to mention that in my speech!
I was kicking myself, but still felt thankful for the opportunity to share the Fairways story with the lovely members of The Rotary Club of Kilrymont St. Andrews. And Gordon again! No doubt we can to continue to help more children like Pratima all over the world.