McAllan encouraged by Toby Sunderland nomination

McAllan encouraged by Toby Sunderland nomination


Michael McAllan is hoping his nomination for The PGA’s Toby Sunderland Award can open new doors in his efforts to raise awareness about good mental health.

While Ashbourne’s Ciaran Caroll was the ultimate winner of the award, which recognises outstanding charitable acts and contributions to community developments and national schemes by PGA Members, McAllan was honoured to be The PGA in Scotland’s nominee for 2023.

The Nairn professional’s tireless work to promote positive mental health is rooted in personal experience and his efforts continue to help others.

McAllan suffered a desperate slide into depression and anxiety during a particularly challenging period of his working life as a PGA Professional but he emerged from the depths of despair and is now enjoying a new and fulfilling chapter in his career.

Last year, he played a key part in the development of the Covesea Links Open, a one-day charity golf event on the Moray coast which raised £5,500 for the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH).

McAllan also performs a mentorship role with a number of PGA Trainees as they move through their studies with the association while he has shared his journey with Developing the Young Workforce (DYW), an initiative which aims to help a new generation prepare for the word of employment.

“It was really nice to be recognised by The PGA in Scotland although it was never something I was seeking accolades for,” said McAllan. “But this was a rewarding off-shoot of the work I have done. Its team work as well so this was also for all the people involved with the Covesea Open. It was a true team effort.

“I’ve been up front about the issues I went through. It’s very important to stress to people that it should be something to talk about and they should not be embarrassed about it.

“You don’t realise you’re going down a dangerous path until you get there. I was very stressed; the workload was huge and I was tipped over the edge. I was at a very low ebb and thought I was done and dusted.

“But the first step towards recovery is to talk about it. And that’s not easy to do. I’m beginning to see there is a change in attitude, though.

“Almost every other day, I get some feedback from people, whether they are in The PGA or a wider industry, and it’s sometimes from people who wouldn’t normally raise the issue of mental health.

“But they seem more comfortable coming to me and speaking about any problems they have. I’m very happy to speak to them. I’m very frank about what I went through and if I can help them, then great.

“I’ve had a lot of interaction with fellow PGA Members who were aware of my struggles and knew I’d managed to come through the other side and forge a second phase of my career. I managed to get beyond my problems. I think the awareness levels in my industry have grown.

“Hopefully, the nomination opens more doors for me to continue this work. I have experiences to share and that can help people along their own path.”


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