New era at Kirkcaldy YMCA as Nikki becomes first female chair

Nikki Campbell is set to make a bit of history when she steps in to lead Kirkcaldy YMCA.

By Darren Gibb
Thursday, 15th October 2020, 4:50 pm
Nikki Campbell. Pic: Fife Photo Agency.
Nikki Campbell. Pic: Fife Photo Agency.

She will be the first female to chair the long-standing organisation, taking over from Bob Kilgour who is stepping down after 46 years at the helm.

The post also cements her own story with the YM which dates back to her own childhood.

Nikki, a former pupil at Viewforth High School, was still at school when she first got involved in the 134-year old organisation which aims to provide opportunities through a variety of educational, recreational and caring programmes, for young people.

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Kirkcaldy YMCA's annual report

And those links have continued throughout her studies and her career.

Nikki said: “I was 14 years old when I first went along to a music project that was being held at the Kirkcaldy YMCA.

"I would go every week, and, after getting to know the staff I volunteered to help out at the day camps the YM used to put on during the summer holidays.

"When I was 16 I applied for a position as a youth worker - I can still remember my interview with Liz Easton, our general secretary. I was lucky enough to be offered the position and I was able to continue working at the YM as paid staff.”

The cover of Kirkcaldy YMCA's annual report

Nikki left town to start studying a law degree at Edinburgh’s Napier University when she was 18, but continued to work with the YM whenever she was home taking a break from her studies.

She said: “When I came home from uni, I would do detached youth work with the YM.

"This was where we would take to the streets in small groups to engage with young people. We would talk to them, give them advice and inform them of all of the other different things that they could be doing other than hanging about the streets on a wet Saturday night.

"I have also been given a lot of great opportunities through the YM. I have been to Ingolstadt, Kirkcaldy’s twin town in Germany, and have had several other amazing opportunities – I really want to give something back.”

Kirkcaldy YMCA's annual report

After Nikki qualified as a solicitor in 2014 she was appointed to the board of Kirkcaldy YM meaning that she could continue to volunteer whilst working. That then led to a spell as the company secretary where she was responsible for keeping the organisation's affairs in order and ensuring that information was shared with all the relevant groups it works with.

She added: “With Bob, our current chairman, retiring this year, the board nominated me to take over . It is a real privilege,

"Bob has been around for such a long time, he is a real asset to the YM.

"We have similar stories on our journey to becoming chairman. He joined to play badminton as a 16 year old before becoming chairman. Never did I think that when I turned up to a youth project 20 years ago that I follow suit one day.”

Nikki says her ground-breaking role is a positive step forward.

“It is a good step forward in this world of diversity and equality” she adds, “There are not a lot of women in these positions, but, more and more are being appointed as time goes on – there is a lot of effort being made across the world for equality.

"In the role of chairman I want to continue to support the YM in the amazing work that it does.

"It has a long history, and I want to ensure that its legacy continues – and to continue to help young people and their families.”

Covid restrictions have impacted, but the YM continued to carry out its work in the community – delivering food parcels, supplying craft packs to kids and even helped families gain access to devices such as tablets and laptops to help young people with home schooling.

Added Nikki: “"All of our staff do such an excellent job, especially Liz. They deserve recognition for all of the good work that they do for the community.

"We all have a strong connection and a strong board who have all come up through the YM, it’s a really cool thing to be part of and an honour to be part of it and to be chairman.”

As Nikki moves in, Bob steps aside after a lifetime of service.

He said: “It has been a great honour to be involved with Kirkcaldy YMCA for six decades, joining to play badminton as a 16 year old in 1957.

"In the past year Kirkcaldy YMCA has been presented with amazing opportunities – Gallatown Hub, the development of projects such as Talking Cafe, Aspiring Gallatown and the growth of our volunteer pool.

"There have been an number of challenges securing funding for projects, increasing pressures and needs in the local community, mental health, poverty and

disadvantage, and latterly the great challenge of Covid-19.

"As an organisation, we have remained committed to ensuring that those who needed were able to access support and services, or for those who wished to give time and commitment, they would be welcomed, encouraged and appreciated.

"During our 134th year, providing services to children, young people and adults, valuing the contribution of all our staff, volunteers and partners, I’m extremely grateful and humbled to have been part of the transformative organisation that is Kirkcaldy YMCA and the world wide YMCA movement.

"On behalf of the board of management I would like to offer my sincere thanks for all that everyone has done to make this possible, thank you.”

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