The people whose lives are Vacational Studies

Updated on:

Vacational Studies was started by Ian Mucklejohn in 1973.  During the decades of Vacational Studies Courses, he has welcomed thousands of young people.  He remains the Managing Director and gets to know all the young people who come to VacStuds each summer.

In 2023, he appointed Paddy Douglass as a Director.  Ian writes: 

Having run Vacational Studies on my own since I created it in 1973, the time has come to consider the next 50 years and accept that, for one reason or another, there might just possibly come a time when I shall not be in a position to ensure its continuity. I imagine that time will be far in the future, but who can tell?
I have known Paddy Douglass all his life. His late father, Willie Douglass, was on VacStuds sports staff for many summers in the 1980s and became a firm friend – and my son’s godfather.
Paddy started his VacStuds career at the age of 16 as a UK Rep and progressed up the ranks to Senior Sports/Social Organiser. We are fortunate to have many talented people among us and what marked Paddy out for me was his passion for the Course long before his period of employment during which time he meticulously prepared the programme and the staff, organised Q and A sessions with presentations for parents and went over and above his job description before, during and after the Course to make it simply the best.  He is now the age I was when I started VacStuds.
This summer, I asked Paddy if he would like to work with me as a co-director to get to know the inner mechanics of Vacational Studies, develop it in the way he wishes and, in the fullness of time, to take over. ‘My dream job’ was his response.
Paddy shares the VacStuds ethos and has my complete confidence.
Our intention is that Paddy will become a familiar presence over the decades and will ensure that Vacational Studies is ready for its 100th summer.
Quite a commitment…
Paddy writes:

My story with Vacational Studies began in 2016 when I received an invitation from Ian Mucklejohn to apply as a ‘UK Rep’. I knew that my dad, William Douglass, had worked at VacStuds in the 1980s as a Sports Organiser but at the time I had no idea that this role would become the fulfilment of a cherished family legacy. My father had an incredible time working at VacStuds and wanted me to have the same opportunity. His affection for VacStuds has been passed down through generations.

Over the summers of 2016, 2018, 2019, 2022, and 2023, my love for Vacational Studies has grown ever stronger. I've been privileged to be a part of this remarkable community, and together, we've navigated through the challenges presented by the hiatus caused by the global pandemic. Upon resuming in 2022, we faced the hurdles of regaining the momentum that comes from running the Course consecutively year after year. In my role as Senior Sports and Social Organiser during the last two courses, I've had the privilege of witnessing the resilience and spirit of everyone within the VacStuds family. Together, we've reignited the flame of this institution, rekindling the enthusiasm for the Course that defines our time here. The challenges posed by COVID-19 have almost completely faded. With the reintroduction of Hawtreys House, an increase in student numbers, and a full staff team, VacStuds now feels as if no such disruptions ever occurred. The challenges that we have faced, and are still facing, with Brexit are unfortunately out of our control. We are still committed to preserving the processes and pathways of progression for both our students and staff.

Ian for many years (50 to be exact), has created and become the very institution that we love. I am filled with excitement and a deep sense of responsibility as he has trusted me to take on more responsibilities and become a director. I am committed to working tirelessly throughout the year to ensure that Vacational Studies not only continues to thrive, but also reaches new levels of excellence. My aim is to foster growth and build bridges that connect our remarkable community even more closely. What makes this new role so special for me is that this is an organisation that I, and so many, love. I am personally grateful for what it has done for me and my family. I want to ensure that many more people can benefit from the invaluable lessons and experiences we are taught at VacStuds.

One of the things I am most eager to do in my new role is to get to know more people within the Vacational Studies network. Everyone involved brings a unique perspective, a wealth of experiences, and a shared love for this institution. This is evident in the second-generation students and staff we see coming through the system now. The faces and names change as we move through the years, but somehow the same vibe of positivity and joy is felt across decades.

I look forward to meeting as many people in this network as possible, now made easier by means such as Zoom, and continuing working closely with Ian to create a bright and exciting future for Vacational Studies. Thank you for your trust in me, and here's to the remarkable journey ahead.











Accredited by the British Council
Offers Trinity
Accredited by English UK