Meet Our Ambassadors
Respitality in Scotland has been fortunate enough to be surrounded by ambassadors from the tourism industry. We consult with these passionate individuals on a regular basis to ensure we are in the know about all things Scottish tourism, so that Respitality is responsive to this ever changing industry. Learn more about our ambassadors below:
Chris Gardner – Chief Executive Officer of The BEN Scotland
“We are delighted to be involved with the scheme to help carers out with our house in Pitlochry. They are the unsung heroes who put others first and deserve to be recognised. They make a difference so we are trying to make a difference for them.”
Chris has worked with The BEN for over 30 years, providing administrative support for residents of their estates and organising fundraising events within the licensed trade.
Since 2015, Chris has supported Respitality with exclusive use of one of their Pitlochry properties which has benefitted just under 200 unpaid carers who have taken a short break there.
David Cochrane MBE, Chief Executive of Hospitality Industry Trust Scotland
“I’ve proudly supported this innovative project from the beginning – it’s a simple and worthwhile way for the hospitality sector to give back to unpaid carers in Scotland.”
After commencing his career at the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, David started working for Norfolk Capital Hotels. He then joined Gardner Merchant, now called Sodexo, as a chef manager, progressing to District Training Coordinator.
This training experience led him into the Hotel and Catering Training Company, working with Youth Training and unemployment projects. He also undertook a Leonardo da Vinci European project to help implement Vocational Qualifications in Scottish prisons!
David has been the Training Manager at the internationally renowned Gleneagles hotel. He developed his passion for people development, and this led him naturally to take on the role of Chief Executive of HIT Scotland.
In 2004 David was awarded the Industry Award for services to the hospitality industry in Scotland. Since working with HIT Scotland the Trust has awarded over 5000 scholarships for the emerging talent of the industry and 14,000 student bursaries. He took part in the successful Kilimanjaro challenge in 2011, The Gran Paradiso Challenge in Italy in 2014 and the Great Wall of China Challenge in 2017! In 2012 he was awarded an honorary degree in International Hospitality Management from Higher Institute of Education – Glion and he was honoured with the Education and Training “Catey” UK award the same year. Later in 2019 he organised another successful fundraising trek to Machu Picchu. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality and Strathclyde Business school.
David was awarded an MBE in the Queens Birthday Honours list 2020 for services to hospitality and tourism.
David has been a supporter of Respitality in Scotland from its inception, connecting us up with influential and like minded figures in the hospitality sector to enable Respitality to grow year on year.
Jeanette Wilson MBE, Policy Director of British Holiday and Home Parks Association Scotland
“BH&HPA members fully support the valuable work Respitality does to help unpaid carers. The heartfelt feedback from the carers underlines to the businesses that giving a little helps a lot – everyone involved benefits in different ways.”
A well-known figure within the industry, Edinburgh-based Jeanette is best known for her role at BH&HPA Scotland.
Jeanette joined BH&HPA in 1993, and has since provided the secretariat to the association in Scotland which comprises more than 200 park businesses. She also represents the parks industry to the Scottish government, Visit Scotland and many other tourism organisations. She received a MBE in the 2016 New Year’s Honours List for her highly-valued services to the holiday parks sector.
Jeanette has helped Respitality create positive and long lasting relationships with several holiday parks across Scotland, and is always proud to fly the Respitality flag across the sector.
Helen Henderson, Membership Manager of Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions
“We were keen to support Respitality as the work they do is so essential, and we at ASVA were excited to take on the role as ambassadors.
Being a trade membership organisation means we can share information quickly and easily, and we know that the ability to offer breaks and support unpaid carers is crucial. People in our community want to offer support and we are very happy to facilitate this.”
Helen is the Membership Manager and first began working for ASVA in 2013. However, her involvement began long before this when she worked for an ASVA member organisation and attended her first Conference back in 1999!
Qualifying first with a History Degree from Glasgow University, Helen then went to Sheffield University to complete a Post Graduate Diploma in Arts and Heritage Management, from which she graduated with Distinction.
Helen began her career working for South Lanarkshire Council as Visitor Services Officer for a number of their culture and leisure sites, including Calderglen Country Park. After this, Helen moved to take up a role in marketing at The Tall Ship at Glasgow Harbour (now The Tall Ship at Riverside), before becoming General Manager after a few years. A short break then followed when her son was born. However, it wasn’t long before she was back involved in the attractions industry, but this time working for ASVA and she has been there ever since. Her role has changed in that time but remains focussed on working with members to provide them with the best service and support them in exceeding visitor expectations!
Helen has been a strong supporter of Respitality since 2020, and played a prominent role in promoting our Respitality at Home virtual breaks pilot in 2021 that encouraged 20 visitor attractions to facilitate short breaks for carers across Scotland.
Margo Paterson, Chief Executive Officer of Hostelling Scotland
“Respitality is a brilliant project for us to support and we have engaged for a good number of years now and will continue to do so. We appreciate how Respitality raises the profile of unpaid carers.
When unpaid carers are caring in such an intense way, to be able to give back is so important. It is a good feeling to know that the breaks that Hostelling Scotland offer allow carers to have some time off to themselves, so they can go back to their role of caring for loved ones stronger and refreshed.”
As well as playing a role as one of our Ambassadors, Margo and the team at Hostelling Scotland have donated short breaks to Respitality from 13 of their beautiful hostels since 2017.