I have to say I am super proud of my mum who has just been awarded a British Empire Medal for her services to the community of Levenmouth.
Not long after I left Scotland my mum moved to Levenmouth (A) from the farm I spent my teenage years at in Gateside (B), Fife.
I remember a conversation with her regarding the area she moved into that scared the hell out of me.
“There are loads of drug problems in the area but I managed to get the house at a great price and should have the mortgage paid off soon” she said as calm as if she was greeting me “good morning”.
Soon after there was talk of getting involved in a community transport business that was going to help the elderly, disabled and general population that needed transport to do general, day to day things like shopping, movie outings or day trips to local attractions.
The project, Mobus grew and kept mum really busy alongside her bookkeeping business of about 20 customers. As it grew more the bookkeeping took a back seat and mum kept handing off clients to either other bookkeepers or training someone young to do a few clients then handing over the clients to the young entrepreneurs.
She later moved to Southern England to help with another project that was in the same field before having to return to Leven to start her current venture in the community, Mybus.
I always remember talking to mum over the phone and listening to her excitement every time she talked about getting volunteers to help in the business and get training for these volunteers to help better themselves for future employment. When she told me about some of the backgrounds (never going into detail) of the people she had helping it worried me again. What amazed me was the fact mum never let their background phase her. Everyone deserves a chance and these ‘guys’ have all offered to help for nothing so I am going to see what I can get for them in return.
She managed to get them mechanics apprenticeships, bus driving licenses, basic business management skills amongst many other training opportunities. In fact anything they wanted to get involved in she would try to get funding to get them on the course. In return they helped at Mybus to keep a community service going.
I don’t have exact figures but I do remember that every time we spoke she had managed to acquire another bus, premise, funding or something else for the business. A few years of hearing about the business growth in the community and then there was talk of being invited all over the country to speak to others who were working in funded community industries that were not-for-profit.
Running a transport business wasn’t enough for her. Mum needed more in the community to keep her volunteers going and projects kept being developed. Letham Glen Craft Centre was developed. A place for the whole community to get together and for local events to be held.
Next on the hit list was the local bowling club.
When Fife Council decided it could no longer afford to run a local bowling green in Leven, it offered the entire facility to the membership. With an average age of 70+ the members concluded the challenge was beyond them and reluctantly turned the offer down. But all was not lost. Step forward MyBUS – principally a community transport project but with the capacity to fulfil the role of a community anchor – and with an understanding of the crucial importance of retaining these local facilities
I always knew mum was an entrepreneur as she always had some sort of business on the go but I didn’t really understand how much she really supported her community. I only hope I can live up to what she has achieved and is still achieving as I write. Maybe then I can be as awesome!