This section is probably the most difficult for me to write, as with many people I can happily talk at great lengths about many other subjects but when it comes to talking about or promoting myself it definitely doesn’t come naturally. With that in mind I have tried to give you an idea of who I am, why I became involved in politics to begin with and why it is such an honour to represent the constituency of Kilmarnock and Loudoun as their Member of Parliament.
I am married to Cyndi and have two sons, Kyle and Dylan. I have stayed in the Kilmarnock and Loudoun constituency my entire life, attending the local primary school and subsequently Loudoun Academy. From there I attended Glasgow University, graduating with an Honours degree in Civil Engineering. I worked in this sector for 21 years, both in the private and public sector and was most recently employed as a Principal Engineer.
I am a lifelong supporter of Kilmarnock Football Club and regularly attend Rugby Park as well as travel away from home. I enjoy getting out into the countryside and walking with my wife Cyndi and Coby our dog, camping and cooking. I enjoy music, preferably loud, but admit to being stuck in a previous generation when it comes to choice with bands like The Clash, Sex Pistols, Jesus and Mary Chain, and 80s/early 90s music.
Before becoming an MP I was an SNP councillor of seven years standing, elected as a local councillor for Ward 6, Irvine Valley in 2007. With SNP colleagues we formed a minority administration and I served as Spokesperson for Planning on this council from 2007 to 2012. It was fantastic to be part of an administration that for the first time in decades had vision and ambition for the local area. We launched an ambitious capital programme to upgrade our local schools and build council houses, which after ‘right to buy’ was desperately needed. We were only able to achieve this as we had an SNP Administration at Holyrood that had the same drive and ambition for Scotland and did not want to simply mirror Westminster policies.
This was close to my ethos and reasoning for getting involved in local politics, I wanted to serve my community and help better it where possible. Being a lifelong Kilmarnock fan, I had run the local Killie FC supporters club for years so had experience of working in a local group with like-minded individuals. When my local gala was threatened to be discontinued due to some apathy within the town I felt I had to get involved in order to keep it going. I became chair of the Newmilns Gala committee in 2006 and as a group we managed to continue a great local tradition. I was delighted to be invited to crown the Gala Queen in my early months as the local MP.
It was that local involvement and love of my community which made me want to get involved in a higher level of politics. As an unpaid director I assisted in further development of Newmilns Snow and Sports Complex and it was great to see their major new slope installation come to fruition in November 2013. This was due to the hard core of directors who had worked selflessly on the project for years. I am glad I took the plunge to local politics following this but at that time I certainly never thought I would ever run for MP.
After being re-elected in 2012 as Councillor for the Irvine Valley I became Spokesperson for Planning, Housing, and Strategic Planning and Resources. This gave me direct involvement in the capital and housing programmes and it was great to feel part of such an ambitious regeneration and improvement ethos. I was also a member of the cabinet, and chair of the Grants Committee. I had several trustee / director roles with Kilmarnock Leisure Centre, East Ayrshire Council, Galston Development Partnership, Irvine Valley Regeneration Partnership and Newmilns Snow and Sports Complex. Not only did this keep me involved with the local community, it helped me appreciate it more.
I have always had an interest in politics but never thought I would become and MP, now that I am it is a privilege to represent Kilmarnock and Loudoun in Westminster. I will always stay within the community I represent and my intent is to always work hard, remain approachable and represent the area with diligence. I was elected on the wider SNP platform of "Standing Up for Scotland" and "Holding Westminster to account" and these will remain my governing thoughts while representing Kilmarnock and Loudoun at Westminster.