Social Enterprise Spotlight – Cullen Sea School

Posted: 21 September 2021, in News

Our newest Social Enterprise Spotlight is David McCubbin and Cullen Sea School.

Cullen Sea School is a centre for small boat building, sailing, coastal rowing, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding and training courses. Read and share their Q&A interview below!

Get in contact with David on

What’s your social and/or environmental mission?
Our social mission is the advancement of education through public participation in sports and related activities e.g. water sports, cycling, walking and talks in local schools. Our environmental mission is the advancement of environmental protection and improvement thereof, by increasing public awareness of the environment surrounding the 3 Harbours and environs, including flora and fauna, and by increasing awareness of our unique coastal walks and coastline.

How do you do it?
We work with our local communities, visitors, school and youth groups and partner organisations to maximise the reach and effectiveness of what we do. Our activities take place most days, all year round and are promoted via our website and social media where we have very good engagement levels. We have a small team of paid staff and a large team of passionate volunteers.

What’s your personal motivation for being a social entrepreneur?
To contribute towards making a difference to those who will benefit from what we do. You only have to see the reaction from our customers to see that we are doing something that benefits them and that is so rewarding to see. I am also motivated to ensure that Cullen Sea School and The Three Harbours Association becomes financially sustainable and will be here providing products and services for many years to come.

What are your current projects?
I am working on developing a programme of year round activity at the sea school whether that is water or shore based. The sea school needs to be operating year round and the only limiting factors are weather conditions for water based activities and demand for what we do.  We are building up our portfolio of services including more in the environmental field with the introduction of monthly beach cleans and coast path litter picks and a programme of winter talks by environmental, wildlife and nature related organisations. Our boat building and repairs part of the charity has a growing pipeline of work and we are exploring a boat building apprenticeship.

What exciting things do you have coming up?
We are working on establishing/strengthening links with the local authorities in Moray and Aberdeenshire to offer our activities to children and young people whether that is through school visits and youth groups or via the Active Schools programme. We are trying to get back up to full speed following the COVID-19 pandemic and raise awareness that we are open to the public at large. We are also building on the success of the launch of our Cullen Photographic Walking Tours and classes. We have signed up to the Young Persons Guarantee and keen to fulfil our commitment to that programme.

Who do you want to work with more?
We are really keen to grow our networks and work with more 3rd party organisations to reach, attract and welcome more people to the sea school whether that is children and young people, those with special needs or those who have not previously had the opportunity to try out sea school activities. The key to our success will be working in partnership and collaboration with others.

What’s your biggest challenge?
Funding is our number one challenge and working towards the goal of becoming financially sustainable. Second to that is raising awareness that we exist, what our aims and objectives are and ensuring we can reach our target audiences and markets to grow our visitor numbers and maximise the impact and benefits of what we offer to our communities.

What top tips would you give to other social enterprises?
To stay focussed and determined to deliver what you have set out to do and not let any obstacles or unexpected challenges knock you off course. Social enterprises are all about making a difference and without their existence and delivery, the country would be a poorer place for it.  Communication is key and ensuring that the wider community is aware of your aims and objectives and activities.