Media release: Scots Health Secretary backs national sport summit


SCOTLAND’S ability to change its culture and use sport more effectively to improve the health of the population will be debated at a national sport summit in Edinburgh next month.

Government, sport bodies, local authorities and other key stakeholders will join forces at Tynecastle Stadium on 25 and 26 November with the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, Jeane Freeman, Dr Catherine Calderwood, the Chief Medical Officer, and sportscotland’s chief executive Stewart Harris the key speakers.

The two-day summit has been organised by the Observatory for Sport in Scotland, a new think-tank founded by former PE adviser, Charlie Raeburn, and modelled on successful institutes across Europe which use high-quality research to shape new policy at national and local levels.

That evidence has been key to those countries retaining a high level of sport participation at all age levels, and the wider health and education benefits.

Sport participation and physical activity levels have been falling globally in recent years and stagnating in Scotland, with a drop-off across the life cycle beginning from age 13.

Walking and individual sport activity provide the few positive trends, but research there also suggests links to affluence with greater drop-out in deprived areas. With serious global health concerns around increasing obesity, inactivity and social isolation, particularly in children, the spotlight is shifting to sport and regular activity for solutions.

Ms Freeman stated: “Everyone in Scotland should have the opportunity to feel the positive effects from taking part in sport and physical activity. Sport not only helps us lead healthier lifestyles, but can also make an important contribution to addressing challenges across Scottish society, such as loneliness and isolation.

“I am pleased to be involved in the Observatory for Sport’s National Summit, and welcome its focus on learning from best practice here and across Europe to encourage as many people as possible to take part in sport and physical activity.”

The international event will feature people from across government, local authorities, sport bodies and communities in Scotland, Scandinavia and the Netherlands, and enter into controversial areas with the International Olympic Committee’s Esports representative, Chester King, joining entrepreneurs behind new SportsTech and Apps attracting people into regular activity across the world.

The summit will be hosted by Heart of Midlothian FC at Tynecastle Stadium, and club owner, Ann Budge, a supporter of OSS, stated: “Heart of Midlothian FC and myself personally are delighted to host the first national OSS summit at Tynecastle because it embodies what is important to us as a community football club.

“I have met with the OSS founder, Charlie Raeburn, and director, David Ferguson, and their vision for bringing high-quality research and evidence to the sport and activity landscape across Scotland, in the way that other European countries have been doing for years, is very impressive.

“There is no doubt that, across Scotland, we need help to understand the barriers to sport and regular activity, and more importantly we need to work closely with the Scottish Government, sportscotland, local authorities, trusts, health bodies, education and our wider communities if we are going to seriously tackle the health and wellbeing problems that we have in this country.

“This summit is about much more than sport – it is about the health and wellbeing of our people. We will play our part and look forward to welcoming people from across Scotland and wider Europe to our stadium for the first OSS summit, and I would urge all with an interest in community sport, recreation and health and wellbeing to join us.”

Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Catherine Calderwood, added: “We recently published new UK Chief Medical Officers’ Physical Activity Guidelines, which set out the enormous benefits of active lifestyles for both our physical and mental health.

“I look forward to speaking about these at the summit and to hearing about the valuable work across Scotland and elsewhere to support people to overcome barriers to taking part in sport and physical activity.”

The first OSS National Sport Summit will take place on 25 and 26 November, 2019, at Tynecastle Stadium, and all details can be found at the OSS website –


Further details: OSS executive director David Ferguson – david@oss scot / 07730 303477

The OSS was founded in 2016 by former PE adviser, Charlie Raeburn, with support from Lord Campbell of Pittenweem, Iain More of the More Partnership and Martin Gilbert of Aberdeen Standard Investments. It has a board of 12 members from across sport, business, health, education, academia, and is further supported by a Research Advisory Group, Business Leaders Forum, Universities Forum, and Sport, PE and Physical Activity Forum that unites stakeholders from across Scotland and wider Europe.


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Contact: David Ferguson