BY his own admission, Iain MacRitchie was “pretty taken aback” to be named as the newest recipient of the St Mungo Prize.

The award, returning after a six-year absence, has in the past been conferred on such Glasgow luminaries as Sir Patrick Dollan, Dr Tom Honeyman, Sir William Burrell, Sir Alexander Gibson and Lord Macfarlane of Bearsden. To that list can now be added the name of the founder of MCR Pathways and its Young Glasgow Talent youth mentoring programme.

MCR was established nine years ago in one school in the city’s east end and it now mentors and supports young people in 15 schools. It aims to help them make a successful transition to jobs or to higher or further education and also re-engages teenagers who have become disillusioned with school.

“The award is not something you seek or expect or even work towards,” Mr MacRitchie said.

“I was taken aback, but even more so when I understood who the previous winners had been. It’s a privilege to be included in that list of people who have made such an impact on Glasgow.

“But I’m also very grateful for the recognition it confers on the team here. The award is an individual thing, but it’s not an individual thing that I do. I pull together like-minded people, so they get the credit for this. I can do nothing on my own.”

Last January Mr MacRitchie was recognised by David Cameron in the then prime minister’s Points of Light programme, which celebrates volunteers’ contributions to the community. MCR was also the winner of this year’s Herald Society Award for education initiative of the year.

Mr MacRitchie said success for him is “fundamentally judged by each young person finding, growing and using their talents, and realising their potential.

“Success is if we can reach every disadvantaged young person across the city. We have fabulous stories and statistics about young people finding their potential and going on to much better things than they might otherwise have achieved.

“We support 528 young people in the city at the moment but we aspire to multiply that by four or five. Wherever the need is, we will find them, and give them that support.

“Glasgow City Council has signed a three-year agreement, which means we will go into every secondary in the city. We will reach every care-experience and disadvantaged young person in the secondary school system.

“More than 1,000 people have registered to get involved with us as mentors and volunteers, and much of that is down to the coverage that The Herald has given us.”

He remains hopeful other parts of Scotland will adapt the MCR Pathways model, seeing it “as a beacon, a shining example of what is possible when people get together”.

Sandy Knox, for the St Mungo Prize, said: “We were very fortunate to have some outstanding nominations but what tipped it in Iain’s favour was that MCR has transformed the lives of disadvantaged children.

“The statistics about the effect of their wellbeing and educational attainment are quite dramatic.

“If any government or political party had been able to effect such changes, they would have been trumpeting it from the rooftops.

“Iain keeps a relatively low profile but he is very driven to achieve his objectives. His family lives in England but he has decided to stay in Glasgow for two years to give MCR Pathways its continuing impetus. He is backing the Young Glasgow Talent programme with his own money and time. If it continues to make progress, it will have a positive legacy for young people. At a time when we are talking about closing the attainment gap this programme shows what can be achieved through the dynamism and leadership of one truly motivated and determined personn – which, after all, are MCR’s values.”

Glasgow Lord Provost Sadie Docherty said: “Iain McRitchie is an inspirational individual committed to giving back to this city. His highly regarded mentoring programme MCR Pathways for young people has received many accolades and the city council is proud to be part of its success, raising the aspirations of looked-after children.

“Iain is living proof that people make Glasgow and really do make a difference every day. Everyone who has encountered Iain cannot fail to be impressed and humbled by his enthusiasm, positivity, practicality and bold ambition for our young people who are seeking guidance as they navigate a complicated adult world.

“Glasgow is fortunate to have such a high achiever with such a caring and philanthropic attitude. I’m sure everyone will agree he is a deserving recipient of this honour.”

Can you help a young person realise their full potential and be defined by their talent not their circumstances or postcode?

The Herald and Evening Times are supporting the Young Glasgow Talent campaign by MCR Pathways to recruit mentors and organisations for its schools based mentoring and talent taster programme.

The charity supports disadvantaged young people and especially those in or on the edges of the care system to realise their full potential through education.

Founded in 2007 and developed in one school over five years, the programme now supports over 500 young people aged between 12 to 18 in fifteen Glasgow schools, with a citywide expansion plan and national ambition.

More disadvantaged young Glaswegians are signing up for mentors to help them overcome barriers and inequality to be all they can be. One hour a week and a willingness to put a young person first are all you need. You'll make and experience a life-changing difference in helping a young person to find, grow and use their talents.

MCR Pathways will provide all the training and support you need. For more information or to register, please go to, email or call us on 0141 221 6642. 

MCR Pathways is a pioneering partnership of the MCR Foundation and Glasgow City Council and actively supported by an increasing number of Glasgow’s key organisations including Wheatley Group, Glasgow Life, The Herald, Glasgow Kelvin College, SECC, University of Strathclyde, Santander and Glasgow Chamber of Commerce. All are committed to closing the attainment gap and a radical improvement in the outcomes for the young people. The MCR Pathways’ vision is that disadvantaged young people will have the same educational outcomes, career opportunities and life chances as any other young person.