SIH Board of Directors

Our current Board of Directors was voted in at the SIH AGM in March 2018. They are all volunteers and passionate about hostelling:

Christopher Davidson, Haggis Hostels, Edinburgh

Chris joined as a SIH Director in 2015
We opened Haggis Hostels on the 19th August 2011.  With my past experience as a head Chef  I have adapted well to the Hostel life. I feel privileged to promote Scotland and hostelling in our fantastic city of Edinburgh and feel a sense of excitement when hearing traveller’s stories and also when suggesting places for guests to visit. We hope to expand our “brand” with another hostel soon. That said we look forward to becoming a part of many more people’s positive travelling experience with the service we provide and our chilled atmosphere.  I am looking forward to my new role as a Chair of SIH and supporting the Independent Hostelling sector in Scotland.

Dominique Drewe-Martin, Ballater Hostel, Ballater

Vice Chair
Dominique joined as a SIH Director in 2017

I moved from Yorkshire to Aberdeenshire with my husband Daniel in August 2016 to take over Ballater Hostel. I previously worked in banking for 11 years – so a slight change in career but we have never looked back.

Originally called Habitat @Ballater, the hostel has 29 beds and is set in the beautiful Cairngorms National Park. We’ve slowly put our mark on the place – officially changing the name in May 2017.

We’ve always been enthusiastic hostellers (first night of our honeymoon was spent in a hostel - Skiddaw House) and we don’t just rely on feedback from guests either – we cook in the kitchen, eat in the dining room and have slept in every bed – we test out noise levels, comfort, usability - all to enhance the customer experience. We love spending time talking, sharing stories and mixing with our guests. I personally jumped at the chance to join in a onesie party and we even had one group run a ceilidh from our living room! I’m a keen walker, caver (although not many caves in Scotland!) and outdoor enthusiast, dabble in running, occasionally cycle, orienteer when I can, and am keen to learn the bagpipes!

Pat Vallelay, Manager, Portree Independent Hostel, Isle of Skye

Pat joined as a SIH Director in 2015
Pat is a veteran of hostel management.  He was a manager of SYHA hostels for 22 years, then became a manager of an independent hostel, Portree Independent Hostel, 3 years ago.  Pat is a former trade unionist and President of Monkland's Ramblers. He is a passionate and prolific walker, especially hills and long distance footpaths. He is married with four sons. 

Richard Eccles, Owner, Abernethy Bunkhouse, Cairngorms National Park

Richard joined as a SIH Director in 2018

Richard Eccles has run Abernethy Bunkhouses with his wife Patricia (ex chair of SIH) since 1983. Drawn to the area by skiing, Richard remains a qualified ski instructor, they started with their 65 bed Hostel, Nethy House. The smaller Nethy Station, 26 beds, was purchase almost 20 years ago. Nethy House was sold a couple of years ago as it was in need of massive upgrade. The Station continues as a pre-booked groups only Hostel catering for a wide variety of clients from universities, schools, colleges, scout parties and stag and hens! As a side line, Richard is the Chairman for the Castle Roy Trust which is currently consolidation Scotland's oldest masonry fortification.

Richard Eccles Abernethy Bunkhouses

Abernethy Bunkhouse - Nethy Station, is a conversion of the railway station that served Nethy Bridge until 1963. The station has been used as a bunkhouse in various guises since the line was closed by Beeching in 1965. The Speyside Way runs past the old platform.

Nikki Kipfmiller, Owner, Loch Ness Backpackers Lodge, Highlands

Nikki joined as a SIH Director in 2018

Nikki runs Loch Ness Backpackers Lodge, with her partner, Patrick.

They spent their younger years travelling extensively – between them they've been to over 40 countries.

Irene Drummond, Owner, Helmsdale HostelHelmsdale

Irene joined as a SIH Director in 2018

Irene runs this traditional friendly hostel, set within the coastal village of Helmsdale. It is a perfect stopover if exploring this remote but fascinating area of North East Scotland.