The Track to Employment - The Story of Champion Cyclist Ruairidh Brown

At Special Olympics GB we are proud to have lots of athlete who are leaders on and off the field of play and not only excel within their respective sports, but also within the world of employment.

Ruairidh Brown, a member of the Special Olympics Scotland West cycling team is just one of our many athletes across Great Britain changing the world each day by turning a focus towards ability and away from disability.

At just 22 years of age, Ruairidh is already an extremely decorated cyclist having represented Special Olympics GB at National, European and World Games, winning medals at each. Most recently, Ruairidh competed and won gold at the 2019 World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi, in the 10K time trial which took place on the Yas Marina Formula One Circuit. This level of success does not come without consistent hard work and dedication, something which Ruairidh knows all too well. Years and years of training have seen Ruairidh succeed on the track, however, this is not the only place where Ruairidh is known to excel due to his dedication and commitment.

Ruairidh joined Robertson Central West Construction Business as a full-time construction assistant in 2018, where he works alongside the joiners and bricklayers on site. After interviewing for the position following the completion of his college joinery course, Ruairidh has not looked back, learning new skills every day, and clearly making a big impression on the organisation. Ruairidh explained: “They have helped me to learn new things and gain more confidence, I mean a lot of confidence to talk to new people. They are helping me to get my Construction Skills Certificate Scheme (CSCS) card”.

After returning home from his triumph in Abu Dhabi to Ruairidh’s surprise, Robertson hosted a celebration for his success, showing first-hand the impact he has had on the organisation and how much he is valued. Gillian Bartlett, Project Manager said: “You always get Ruairidh in the same mood, positive, ready to work, always keen to do his work and if anyone needs help, he is always on hand to do so. His passion and commitment to what he does is infectious and can lift anyone’s spirits”.

Ruairidh’s continued investment to Robertson on a daily basis has led to a continued investment in Ruairidh, as he is being supported through a tailor-made program to support his personal development allowing him to achieve his accreditation. This rounded experience will allow Ruairidh the flexibility and opportunity to decide where he wants to take his career. Challenging the perceptions that exist for people with intellectual disabilities, Robertson recognises the true benefits of an inclusive working environment and the unique skills Ruairidh brings each day. Gillian continues: “Ruairidh has enhanced our working environment, he has brought out a genuine empathy. If having a member of your team can bring out the best in people, why wouldn’t they be a viable employee?”.  

A leader on and off the field Ruairidh excels in the face of adversity. For anyone who has the opinion that individuals with intellectual disabilities cannot work and succeed in employment, Ruairidh simply has one powerful message: “I would say they should put up with it. I am really friendly, a hard worker and I want to work and do a good job.”.

Challenging these perceptions only fuels Ruairidh more and he now recognises his ability to be a leader and an inspiration for other Special Olympics GB athletes within sport, as well as for others looking to gain employment. Ruairidh explains: “Go and don’t be too nervous. Think to yourself that you will get the job, explain all the things you are good at. Just go for it”.

With a supporting employer like Robertson and all who support Ruairidh through Special Olympics, there are no limits to what he can achieve. Off the track, becoming a site supervisor is Ruairidh’s next goal, whilst on the track Ruairidh wants to continue to perform at a high level and win more medals, although coaching future athletes is also in the pipeline as well.

Ruairidh’s story shows what any individual can achieve if they are supported and embraced and we wish Ruairidh all the best in the future.