Dirt School: The Derek Laughland Memorial Award Returns for 2020!

Dirt School: The Derek Laughland Memorial Award Returns for 2020!

We’re proud to announce our continued involvement with the Derek Laughland Memorial Award for a third year, taking another two young passionate riders under our wing and providing them with £500 worth of Dirt School vouchers to be used for technical coaching sessions. New for this year, we’re also offering a prize for a selected cycling club – a full days coaching with Dirt School for 12 young riders – allowing even more youngsters to reap the benefits of this generous prize. 

The Derek Laughland Memorial Award was set up after the tragic passing of a much-loved husband and father, due to a brain haemorrhage at the Scottish Enduro Series in October 2017. His family took comfort in the fact Derek was doing what he loved, and the Derek Laughland Memorial Award was born.

Derek absolutely loved riding and racing his bike and was much loved within the mountain bike community and enduro scene always being seen with a smile on his face. The Derek Laughland Memorial prize does an excellent job of capturing Derek’s legacy.

Derek Laughland in Torridon
Previously, the award has been directed at the young racing community in conjunction with No Fuss Events, very fitting given Derek’s love for competing on the Scottish Enduro scene. However, as things are a little different this year with racing being a bit uncertain over the coming months, the Laughland’s are opening the award up to any young rider, with any goal, to keep the inspiration for riding bikes at an all time high and continue to share Derek’s love for the sport.

If you’re a young rider aged under 18 or representing a group of under 18s through a cycling club and would like to apply for the award this year, we’re now taking applications. Please answer the following questions through our comments section at the bottom of this page to be in for a chance of being selected by the Laughland family…

Young Male and Female Rider (under 18)

  1. Your age, location and length of time riding
  2. What do you love about riding your bike?
  3. How will the Derek Laughland Memorial Award benefit you?

You must have permission from your parent/guardian to enter.

Cycling Clubs

  1. Please give us a little bit of background info on your club
  2. How will the Derek Laughland Memorial Award benefit the young riders in your club?

Applications close at 6pm on Monday 12th October, with winners being announced at 6pm on Wednesday 14th October. Once a winner has been selected applications will be published publicly to share everyone’s inspiration and love for riding bikes.

Good luck!

Derek Laughland Memorial Award at Innerleithen


  • Rebecca Miller (Edinbane Primary School)

    Hey, I am the class teacher of a small group of pupils in the smallest school on the Isle of Skye. I have always been a keen cyclist from a young age and enjoy road and mountain biking. Throughout my teaching career I have always tried to inspire kids to get outside and push themselves whether it be walking, cycling or running. Over lockdown my class and I took part in a fundraising challenge Skyes the Limit to raise funds for the community covid response charity set up and we’ve not stopped cycling since! We all regularly cycle to school, are lucky to all have bikes but would love to as a wee school club passionate about cycling be able to access more expertise and training. Since returning to school we’ve fundraiser and astonishing over £1000 to improve our school forest area and school playground through sustrans bike to school week, cycle a mile a day (instead of daily mile)and through a ommmunity sponsored (steep!) mountain bike up the local Edinbane forestry tracks. I’m just very proud of their drive, passion and the progress they have made in cycling and we would be over the moon to be considered for the support and fund from Dirt School. As we only have 5 pupils in the school I propose opening it up to our cluster school Dunvegan as well to make the club 12. We look forward to hearing from you!

  • Gabe Watson - Age 12

    My name is Gabe Watson, I’m 12 and I’ve been riding since I was 2 years old. I live in Peebles.

    What do you love about riding your bike?

    I love riding my local trails with my friends, and my dad. Being on my bike makes me feel good and gets me away from things that I worry about.

    I like sessioning all types of trail – working out the best lines, the fastest route, the best drops. I really like sunset rides in the summer – when it’s dusty!!!

    I’ve been riding since I could sit on a balance bike and have overcome things other kids don’t need to worry about – to be able to ride some of the best trails in the tweed valley. I’ve also ridden in Wales, the lakes, the north of Scotland and the French alps. I am very determined

    I ride my bike every day – sometimes more.

    3. How will the Derek Laughland Memorial Award benefit you?

    I’m at a disadvantage to many kids my age because I was born with one hand smaller than the other – which means that I can’t grip my bar and brake as well as other kids. So I have to work harder.

    Despite this I have practiced hard and can now ride with the best of the kids my age and have twice completed the dirt school advanced academy – which made feel really good – and they are great teachers and really supported me.

    I don’t see many people in mountain biking with disabilities riding bikes – I want to be an inspiration for other kids who might not have the confidence to ride or to apply for awards like this.

    Oh….and I want to be coached to win – like Reece Wilson.

    Thank you for the opportunity.

  • Jason Purves

    1 – I have just turned 14, I live in Kelso and have been riding for 3 – 4 years.
    2 – I love to ride my bike and dream to progress with it, I love riding new trails, meeting new people, riding gives me confidence and makes me feel good.
    3 – The Experience I would gain & learn would help me to improve & grow & develop.

  • Sam Ferry

    Derek Laughland Memorial Award
    I’m 13 and live in Peebles. I started riding when I moved to Peebles when I was 7.

    I like being outside. I’m happy when it’s raining because of the slippery roots. It makes it fun. I like the rain and the mud. I like the clicking sound the rear wheel makes. I like knowing that I’ve worked hard for the techy descents by setting myself time challenges for the climbs. Sometimes me and my friends set ourselves a day long challenge and meet at 7am and plan a long route. Going out early means you have the forest to yourself. I tell my mum that riding my bike is my homework.

    Hopefully we can race again next year so Dirt School coaching would help me get technically better and learn about the psychology of riding as coaches have competed at high levels or helped others succeed. Dirt School coaching creates world champions like Reece Wilson which is what I would like to be. Even if we still can’t race for a long time I would be learning from people who ride a bike for a job which is what I want to do. Thank you to the Laughland family for providing this opportunity :)

  • Evan McConnell

    My names Evan McConnell. I’m 16 years old and have been riding for the last 3-4 years. I live in Galashiels & the tweed valley trails are my local riding spots. I really enjoy mountain biking as it allows me to spend time with my friends & also make new friends through riding. I also like to compete and I find racing really enjoyable and a good personal challenge.
    Another reason for my love of mountain biking is the places you get to visit and see. I love being outdoors & spending time in the Scottish countryside, hills & mountains. When I ride I also get to spend quality time with my dad, who also rides, and my trail dog Izzy.
    However the main reason that I find the sport really enjoyable is the buzz and boost of adrenaline I get through challenging myself on a difficult trail or going at high speeds.
    I think the Derek Laughland memorial award would benefit me as up to now I have been reasonably successful in a few races. I finished first in my year group in the Borders school cross country last year. I also entered the 3 tweedlove enduro races finishing mid pack in my category. I would love to progress my riding to the next level and to broaden my skills. My aim is to compete at enduro & downhill events locally & nationally with the target of a podium in future races.
    Last year I decided I wanted to go on the BASE mountain bike course at the Borders college. When I went to the open day I spoke to Andy the dirt school coach and he advised me to stay at school another year and get a few more qualifications as it would benefit me in the long run. I took that advice & am now studying for 5 highers.
    With my aim being to start BASE at the end of next summer I feel that the award would allow me to continue with dirt school coaching from Andy & the other coaches so I am able to continue to progress & not fall behind the level of my peer group.

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