A WEST Lothian teenager is leading the charge for a national children’s charity to become ScotRail’s new philanthropic partner.
Ben Drummond, 15, pitched for Chidren1st to join forces with the rail service to a panel of 11 executives in Glasgow as part of the company’s charity partner selection process.
The charity aims to help families put children first, with practical advice and support in difficult times and helped almost 8000 families over the last year.
It also aims to support survivors of abuse, neglect, and other traumatic events in childhood, to recover.
If chosen the charity - which can trace its roots in Scotland all the way back to 1884 - will receive gifts-in-kind, financial support and opportunities to engage with the ScotRail workforce as part of a three-year partnership agreement.
Armadale Academy pupil Ben began using the charity’s chill-out zone in Bathgate last year and impressed the panel enough to make it to the final shortlist before voting later this month.
The final decision will be made by ScotRail staff and Ben is now encouraging people to show support for the organisation by sharing the hashtag #VoteChildren1st.
“I really enjoy the Chill Out Zone, I’ve gained new skills and made lots of great friends. I also volunteer there every Friday,” said Ben.
“Children1st does so much for young people in the area and that’s why I wanted to help with the pitch to ScotRail.
“I was nervous walking into the boardroom with everyone around the big table but as soon as I started, I was fine. I actually really enjoyed it.
“We now need everybody to tell ScotRail staff to vote for Children1st. Get on social media and share the #VoteChildren1st post with your friends, it’s that simple.
“ScotRail can help so many children and young people to benefit like I have.
Ben’s dad William, who works in the rail industry, said: “Ben really enjoys the Chill Out Zone, the support he gets from Children1st staff is brilliant.”
“This has been a great experience for him and everyone is right behind him to make sure ScotRail staff vote for Children1st.”
Alison Todd, Chief Executive of Children1st, was with Ben at the pitch and said she was very impressed with the way Ben handled the boardroom audience.
She said: “Ben is a fantastic ambassador for Children 1st; his family and friends should be very proud of him.”
ScotRail partnered with Alzheimer’s Research UK last year and also donated £90,000 to local communities across the country as part of an agreement with Foundation Scotland.
Executives at the rail service will vote on a final decision later this month, with an anoouncement on the winner expected later this spring.