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Alta to Malta Challenge - The First Two Weeks!

Dave Gough is 2 weeks into his incredible Alta to Malta challenge today. Check out everything he's seen, cycled by and experienced since he started!


4th of June
First night over...arrived into alta at built by 3am and then hit the road until 530am!? Just woke up now, lots of strange noises over night, wolverines?? Anyways just hitting the road and will upload video tonight all going well!?

5th of June
I've reached Finland, pretty horrible headwind but finding the aerobars a life saver. No sign of Santa yet #lapland

A while later.....

I have located rudolf and the gang...I've been singing rudolf the red nosed reindeer for about 34 mins now

6th of June
So I reached Sweden last night, 150km into a headwind, 7.5 hours on the bike. Calories spent 7500, calories in 1500, fluids in 1l. I'm really paying for it today, feel pretty awful, plus the infamous Mosquitos of the Arctic have appeared...on the bright side I've been overwhelmed by the support

6th of June
What a day...1st and second puncture of the trip, 24km/hr headwind, only 110km complete, 1st fall of the trip (minor) and an episode of spontaneous unexplained crying for about a minute. I've decided to try find a room and a shower tonight and try and make up lost distance 2m

7th of June
So I've had a much better day so far, I'm in gallivare "the mining capital of the world" no less. I've 100km complete today (480 total) and hope to grind out another 60-100k today owing to a serious tailwind! Great wildlife over the past few days, lots of barn owls (wild) hunting in the evenings, I recommend youtubing it!? So all in all spirits are high, head down and drive on!

7th of June
Today's progress: 165km and counting!

7th of June
Still going strong in the land of the midnight sun 190km done, guna push on as feeling pretty good especially with the views

8th of June
So I managed 230km yesterday, mainly because there was no clean water anywhere to cook or drink. I'm about 100km out from Lulea, first major city of the day and hope to make it by mid afternoon

Can someone please record Made in Chelsea tonight for when I get back?

Just leaving Lulea, met some nice English lads for a pint (for strength) and departing to this....

9th of June
Day 5, 140km done on a highway with no hard shoulder, front dérailleur packed in so it was a slow one!? Into skelleftea 2m to find a handy man!

11th of June
So I've made it to Umea, 1000km complete in the first week. Feeling pretty good, only injury to report is a good going nerve injury to my right hand, similar to carpal tunnel I suppose! I'm currently waiting in the cafe in umea airport as my Dad is going to join me for 3-400km over the next four days. I'll try and get a few videos up coz there's only so much sunset pics I can stomach

12th of June
Looks more like the Sahara than Northern Sweden..

Lance captures the yellow jersey on his first day

14th of June
So we struggled to Sundsvall on Dad's last day on the bike. 120km in lashing rain, 4 degrees etc...thankfully we've found a hotel and what will be only my second shower and bed in 11 days, needless to say I'm a happy man

17th of June
So I just got bundled into a police car for speeding :( ...ah no for cycling on the motorway, nice bunch to be fair. They declined a photo...

Trial run of the go pro, pretty tame and law-abiding as expected

Packing it in for the night, 145km from Stockholm, hoping to be sipping on a 6euro flat white by 6pm 2m. Nights are much darker now


You can support Dave and Soar here -

May Happenings at Soar

Soar worked with approximately 230 young people in May through our early intervention, preventative well-being workshops. Here are some other good things that happened!

Out of Schools Programs
In May we kicked off our Girl’s program brainstorm sessions with fifteen awesome young women. This was the first of ten sessions that will explore different topics around being a teenage girl. The opinions and ideas brought by everyone who attended on the night were so spot on and will shape the content of the program.

Training and Development
We began our wellbeing review sessions with all of our Facilitators in Training (F.I.Ts). Led by our Head of Child Protection and Wellbeing, Babs, it is a check in with all F.I.Ts to ensure their own wellbeing is monitored while doing this emotive work. 

Tony and Mark Travel to Australia 
Tony and Mark travelled to Melbourne on a two week funding, research and development trip. Tony was honoured to speak at The Australia Ireland Funding event organised by a true Soar friend, Sandra Booth. Mark also connected with the members of the amazing social enterprise organisation YGAP, speaking at their monthly volunteer night. A considerable amount of work went into program development. This was enabled by Soar advocate and brother Tom Harkin, who put Tony and Mark through their facilitation paces! 

Huge gratitude to The Reach Foundation who as always opened their doors and welcomed Soar. As well as meeting with core staff within Reach, Tony and Mark attended crew trainings, workshops and large scale events. This trip was largely supported by the wonderful generosity of Soar community in both Ireland and Australia which saved Soar thousands in flight and accommodation costs. Big shout out to Etihad Airways, Seamus and Christina at Emerald Travel, and Tom and Paige Harkin.

32 Young People completed Work Experience in the Soar office during the school year - Sept 2014 / May 2015
As secondary schools closed last month we had our last TY student on work experience for the school year. Throughout the year we have consistently had 1 – 3 young people in the office with us every week. Their presence enables us to stay fully connected with the young people we serve! 

Soar Has Been Approved for Tax Relief on Donations
For the last few months we have been working with the revenue to register Soar so that we are eligible for tax relief on certain donations. Last month we were approved, meaning that donations of €250 or more are potentially worth an additional 44.9% to Soar! 

Soar Board Session
We had a fantastic session where our board came together as a whole and took the learnings from the last 3 years and what has gotten us to this point. It was epic!

CRM in Action
We are up and running with our CRM system! We have worked closely with the brilliant team in Microsoft and M-Hance for the last couple of months, developing, tailoring and training up on our customized version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. We are now fully live on the system. This new addition to our processes will allow us to store contact information and record communication with volunteers, donors and the Soar community far easier than before.

Pass It On Campaign 
Last month we trialled our ‘Pass It On’ postcards. This will be a new funding campaign that will be launched in secondary schools this September. The information postcard splits in two (One for young people / One for parents) and will be left with the young people after a workshop to serve 3 different purposes; 1. Safety/follow up information for young people seeking further supports, 2. Information on Soar and the workshop for parents, 3. Fundraising ideas and a call to action for both young people and parents to join the Soar movement. 


Challenges for Soar
Soar has always operated as a movement and we rely heavily on our community to keep us alive. Like every non for profit, we face new challenges monthly. Here are some of the challenges we’re facing right now that you or someone you know may be able to help us with.

This month we are putting a call out to our community to help us source some technical equipment for our office. If you or someone you know may be able to donate any of the following it would help us greatly.

  1. Colour Printer
  2. Projector
  3. Computer Monitor

If you can assist in sourcing any of these items we’d love if you can email us at and let us know.

Alta to Malta

"Do you know what I'd love to do....? This is a very over-used and much ignored opening line of mine. More often than not it would be followed by a promise of adventure and new experiences. To date, I've passed off such moments as fleeting irrational filler in an otherwise hectic and stressful life in medicine. Upon a chance meeting with members of the Soar family, I was encouraged to listen to those calls." 

These are the words of Soar friend Dave Gough. On June 3rd Dave will leave his life in Ireland behind and will begin a MAMMOTH 7,000 km cycle from Alta in Norway to Malta. Dave will be doing this cycle essentially unsupported, travelling solo with no support team. He will be camping most of the way and carrying all equipment (cooking stove, tent etc) on the bike itself. He reckons the trip itself will take 60 – 70 days and he’ll be keeping us up to date on every breath-taking view and blister along the way! We'll be posting updates and images from Dave throughout his trip.

Dave is donating all funds raised by this challenge to Soar and we are enormously grateful and completely inspired. If you would like to support Soar and Dave, you can find out more about his challenge here!

Love in All its Hues Has no Gender Bias

Having worked with so many young adults this past number of years we are constantly amazed with how far we have come as a society.

The many courageous conversations we have witnessed leaves us in no doubt that this generation have cracked through the glass ceiling of many societal taboos. Their ease of acceptance of a person's sexual orientation has been and continues to be an inspiration to us. Our generation have so much to learn from our young people. Love in all its hues has no gender bias.

Soar have encountered many young people who are coming to terms with their sexuality. Having them believe that they are not somehow equal is so out of step with the idea of a state cherishing its children equally.


Over the last few years Soar have been blessed with the involvement of Clodagh Leonard in our organisation. She is training up to become a Facilitator. She is an amazing openly gay young woman and we have learnt so much from her. The love she has shared with us is exactly the same as anyone else's. Her work within the LGBT community has been a constantly reassuring presence for young people coming to terms with their sexual identity. How could we deny her or any other gay person the right to marry who they love. We cannot. We will not. And for this reason the Soar Foundation which stands for freedom, love and acceptance officially supports marriage equality and a Yes vote. 

If you are under 18 please speak to your elders with regards to your feelings on equal rights. As Soar supports the needs of our young people we would ask you to vote yes on Friday.

Karl Swan and Tony Griffin
Co-Founders of Soar. 

10,000 Young People Later… Here we Are!

Since we began running workshops in 2012, Soar has worked with an incredible 10,000 young people from all over Ireland. We are beyond excited about this epic milestone and cannot wait to meet the next 10,000!

Here are some other exciting things that happened in April:

Numbers Reached:

In April we worked with approximately 633 young people in April through our early intervention, preventative well-being workshops. In May we're are scheduled to work with 8 schools and 256 young people. 

Soar and Fenero Partner

Fenero Contracting Solutions, a Tax and Accountancy Organisation chose to partner with Soar for the next 3 years. We're so excited about this partnership which will support us in reaching more young people between now and 2018. We got out to meet the brilliant staff at Fenero last week and their passion for Soar’s work is so clear! 

Training Delivered to Our F.I.Ts Throughout April:

Dil Wickremasinghe of Newstalk Radio and other projects ran a workshop on Equality and Diversity in the workplace for our crew. Dil brought her wealth of experience in working with minority groups and our crew brought buckets of questions, issues and enthusiasm for the topic. It was a brilliant starting place for exploring these areas in greater detail and extra cool to have 3 of our board members contributing on the night.

Quarterly Strategy Planning

On Good Friday we descended on Glendalough for a 12km hike and a day of quarterly planning. We set out our strategic objectives for the next 3 months and aligned our team members to each objective. We also reviewed our last quarter. It was an excellent process of review and assessment and we are so buzzed about meeting the new objectives of the next quarter.   


Dublin Local Education Committee Website Launch

We were invited to the Dublin Local Education Committee website launch were we got meet many Home School Liaison Officers and teachers from the Dublin 1, Dublin 7 and Dublin 9 localities. It was a great opportunity for us to engage with some of the schools around our local area.   

Back to the Playground

We let our inner child go mad at The Maynooth Student’s Union Back to the Playground event on the 23rd of May. The SU pulled out all the stops and created a giant adult playground complete with inflatable slides, bouncy castles and mechanical bulls. It was an excellent opportunity for us to get out and engage with the students of Maynooth who have been supporting Soar throughout the year… and also have a go on the bouncy castle. 

To find out anything more about Soar or how you can support catch us on 

March Happenings

March Happenings

In March we worked with approximately 721 young people in schools throughout Ireland. We ran one follow up workshop in Thurles using all new content and material. This was a super learning process and something that will be built on going forward. Here are some other things we got up to!

We began building our primary schools team which will lead the planning and development of a large scale primary school ‘Heroes Day’ in October 2015.

The Ireland Funds in Australia have agreed to host a large scale fundraising event for Soar in Melbourne this May. This will be a really important opportunity for us to reach a number of people and organisations in Australia who can potentially facilitate Soar in its next stages of funding. Mark and Tony will travel to Australia on May 4th to attend the event and cultivate relationships that may assist the Soar movement.

Soar continued to invest in the Facilitators in Training (F.I.T’s) and Crew. Top quality training has been delivered to our F.I.Ts throughout March:

  • Photographer, artist and all round creative Pauline Rowan ran a half day workshop for our crew on unlocking and embracing our free flow creative abilities. It was really interesting to see the results of accessing the inner child within all of us, and giving the licence to play without the ‘grown up’ watching over us!  
  • Our new Head of Child Protection and Wellbeing Babs Leonard ran a learnings workshop on the Child Welfare and Protection cases encountered by Soar so far. Babs, along with the F.I.Ts provided anonymous cases and discussed the outcomes, actions and learnings which took place in these situations. This was hugely important for Soar as a whole and a great reminder of the massive development that is taking place by the F.I.Ts out in schools!
  • The remaining members of the Soar team took part in a safeTALK workshop ran by the National Office for Suicide Prevention. Some great learnings came out of the day and it makes us better equipped to have honest conversations around suicide with the young people we serve.

Some of our partners came together in our new (very raw) office space at the end of March to brainstorm around projects and plans that are in early development stage for Soar. The energy and ideas that came out of this session were seriously exciting and valuable. We will continue to work with this group on actioning the magic that was thought up in that room. 

An amazing group of girls we met from Co. Clare last year have created a beautiful, animated short film based on wellness and positive mental health. Along the way they chose to partner with Soar and have now been selected to showcase their film at the largest youth film festival in the world, the NFFTY Awards in Seattle. We are so proud to be partnering with the group and are assisting them in reaching Seattle by spreading the word about their GoFundMe page. 10 of us will also scrub up to support the girls on the night of April 23rd at the CAST Film Festival in Dublin.

Tony did a brilliantly honest Q&A session with the Irish examiner in March where he explained Soar, its aims and the workshops beautifully as well as his own journey in life so far. For anyone who hasn’t read it you can find it here along with a snap of Tony looking effortlessly cool!

To find out anything more about Soar or how you can support catch us on 

The Soar Story: Chapter 2

The first two months have absolutely rocketed by and we've worked with over 1,658 awesome young people so far. But here, we'd love to throw it back to 2014. 


We've launched our beautiful Soar Story Chapter Two which captures an epic 2014 and we can't wait to share it with you. Our second annual report journals all the happenings of 2014 and the amazing people who have pushed the movement on to where it is today.

Huge love and thanks to the brilliant team of Joe Murphy, Susan Quirke and Dave Darcy for creating this.

Tuck into it here!

Happy Christmas From Soar

We're all wrapped up for 2014 and wanted to wish you a massive Happy Christmas!

We had an amazing year working with incredible young people all over Ireland and are looking forward to an even bigger and better 2015.

We wanted to thank you for all of the amazing support, guidance and love you showed toward Soar and tell you about some of the brilliant things that happened for Soar this year!

Weeeeeeeeee..... wish you a merry Christmas!

Love from all @ Soar x

Soar’s November Breakdown

November was a brilliant month for Soar for a lot of reasons but the main one being that we worked with the highest number of young people in one month EVER since Soar began! We reached 698 young people through our school workshops. This is a result of our greater capacity with the new Facilitators in Training (FITs) and a growth in awareness of Soar. Here are some other happenings in our world last month.


Hello World! Our new website is up and running.

Our new website is alive and kicking, brilliantly led by our very talented Ciara Quinn. We were lucky to work with the incredible team in Aad design studios to develop the fresh new website. We believe we have delivered a website which reflects the work we do with young people and allows our community to engage fully with all elements of the organisation. We are so proud to be able to direct people to our new online home!

The table quiz event of the year happened and it was awesome!

Our brilliant partner Ecclesiastical absolutely nailed what is turning out to be the highlight of the table quiz calendar! The entire team at ecclesiastical contributed to a brilliant night, which was an even bigger event than last year. The night raised €2,327.40 for Soar. This will be generously matched by Ecclesiastical bringing the total to €4654.80.

Soar hit the Maynooth Campus for our official Launch

Soar officially launched on campus with Maynooth Student’s Union as their cause of choice. It was an incredible day where Soar had an opportunity to meet the amazing students, get to know the campus and speak at lectures. To mark the partnership MSU launched 500 balloons into the sky and Soar held a light-touch workshop with students of the university to introduce them to the work of Soar. It was a real indicator of the amazing collaboration that will take place over the next few months.  

Tony spoke brilliantly at the SEI Awards

Tony represented Soar brilliantly at the Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Awards 2014, held in Christchurch Cathedral. Tony’s invite to appear as a guest speaker was a powerful acknowledgement of the progress made by Soar since Tony and Karl’s ‘Impact Award’ in 2012. Now it’s onto the next stage of Soar serving our young people to the best of our ability. 

Our Facilitators in Training are continuing their training and development

The FITs continue to deliver training sessions on specific aspects of the Soar program to the entire crew. These training sessions were incredibly important for the FITs’ development.

As we move into the last month of the year we're excited to make it a great one to close out a brilliant year at Soar!

October in Soar

October in Soar

In October Soar worked with approximately 465 young people through our school workshops and 30 young people at our One Young World event.

Soar is Maynooth Students Union cause of choice for 2014/2015:

Each year Maynooth Student Union at Maynooth University choose a charity of choice to support for the coming year. Along with other causes, we met with the University and reached the last stage with the final challenge being to create a 5 minute video. Soar was then chosen as MSU’s cause of choice for 2014/2015. This partnership is so exciting. Funding and support from MSU will enable Soar to reach more young people with life changing programs on self-confidence, resilience and emotional well-being. We can’t wait to engage with the student population, bring a bit of Soar Love and work towards creating a more fulfilled, engaged and emotionally aware bunch of graduates. Check out our winning video here

One Young World event at the Chocolate Factory, Dublin

One Young World is the preeminent global forum for young leaders aged 18-30 and gathers the brightest young leaders from around the world, empowering them to make lasting connections and develop solutions to some of the world’s most pressing issues. Soar was invited to create an inspirational workshop for 30 attendees. Soar developed a program that explored what the attendees stood for and what impact their voice could have. It was a truly unique event which was hugely transformative for those in attendance. It was also a pinnacle for Soar as it represented our first participation in a large scale international youth event.

Soar’s Youth Collective met for the first time ever

This month Soar had its first ever Youth Collective gathering. This was incredibly exciting for us as we have discussed at length the importance of having a strong youth element to offer insight, guidance and inspiration to our operations and the overall movement. It was a brilliant gathering where the young people really showed their passion for Soar and contributed massively with opinions and amazing ideas. This youth collective will meet once every quarter.

Our Trainee Facilitators are making an impact

Our Facilitator’s in Training have had a huge impact on reaching more young people and delivering our peer to peer model of facilitation. We are driving forward in content creation, workshop delivery, logistics and operations. This will further continue in November when the trainee facilitators will begin to develop their own content creation skills.

We are in search of a new home

For the last year we have been incredibly fortunate to call the Amnesty International building our home. Now we are ready to move on and are searching for a space that matches Soar’s energy and evolution. This will be a key focus for us in November. In preparation for this move we have condensed our offices from two floors to one in Sean MacBride House. This has allowed us to cut costs dramatically during our hunt for a new pad!

Soar at events

In October, our director of programs Karl was invited to speak at the HSE Syner-Chi conference focussing on wellbeing. It was brilliant for Soar to be asked to engage with the health service for the first time on this topic and it allowed us to make a real contribution to the conversation of well-being and positive influence.

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