May 30, 2008

Missing in action

When the Royal Caledonian Curling Club issued the list of supported athletes in Scotland earlier today, two names were conspiculously absent - Anna Sloan and Laura Kirkpatrick.

Anna, runner-up in the Scottish Junior Championship this year, is playing with Eve Muirhead in the juniors next season, and Laura was recently selected for the World University Games squad.

Turns out that it was an error when the list was being made up. Both Anna and Laura will receive West Area Institute support. Performance Development Coach Rhona Martin has apologised to both athletes, and the information on the Royal Club website (here) has been amended.

My count now is one hundred and twenty athletes receiving support in one form or another.

Top: Anna Sloan by Richard Gray
Above: Laura Kirkpatrick by Jim Law

Supported curlers in Scotland 2

The official list of supported curlers has now been officially released and can be found on the RCCC website here.

In addition to what I posted on Curling Today yesterday, all the Regional Academy athletes are named. There is also the info that Logan Gray and Alistair Guthrie will receive partial support from the National Academy. Both of them, plus Ross Paterson, will also receive support from their local Area Institute. There are also quotes from Royal Club Performance Development Coach Rhona Martin and CEO Colin Grahamslaw.

In summary then, there are three levels of squad support: (1) Regional Academy, supported and funded by the Royal Caledonian Curling Club and sportscotland; (2) National Academy, supported by the Area Institutes and funded by sportscotland; (3) the Elite Scotland squad, supported by the Scottish Institute of Sport and funded by sportscotland.

My count is that one hundred and eighteen curlers are receiving support in one form or another.

European qualifying and new regulations

The qualifying competition to find Scotland's teams to play at the European Curling Championships in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden, December 6-13, 2008, will be held at the Dewar's Rinks in Perth, October 24-26. The draw was announced yesterday and is on the Royal Club website here.

The top three men's teams from last season, skipped by David Murdoch, Warwick Smith and Tom Brewster will contest a double round robin. To be eligible to compete, the teams must have three of last season's players. In the published draw, Ewan MacDonald (above) returns to David's lineup after the injury which has sidelined him for a season, replacing Graeme Connal, and Duncan Fernie comes into Tom's team in place of Hammy McMillan. Warwick's team is unchanged.

Scottish Champion Gail Munro's team is absent from the women's playoff, not being able to fulfill the requirement of having three of her team from last year. Kelly Wood's team will play off, best of five games, against Edith Loudon's team, with Mairi Milne no doubt continuing in the skip's role (Added later. Oops. Should have said Mairi continuing to throw last stones). Kelly's team is unchanged.

New rules for the main Scottish competitions (Men's, Women's and Junior Championships) can also be seen on the RCCC website here. One small - but none the less very significant change - is that all competitors will have to sign the Players International Participation Agreement before the final stages of the competitions, rather than just those on the winning team when the competition is over. A consequence of Vernon perhaps? An outcome of an independent investigation which has yet to take place? Or because of some other reason we are not privvy to?

This condition was already in place for the competitors in the Euro qualifying competition last season.

Incidentally, the Vernon story has reached the stage that conduct panels have been convened. We await developments!

Top: Ewan MacDonald's photo is by Hugh Stewart from the 2007 World Championship.
Above: Duncan Fernie's pic is by Bob from the 2008 Bruadar Scottish Championship.

May 29, 2008

Supported curlers in Scotland

The full list of curlers who will receive support under the various headings of British Curling, the Scottish Institute of Sport, the National Academy, the Area Institutes, and the Regional Academies has been announced today and may be found here. (Added 19.45. This link no longer goes to the information. It has apparently been removed. Don't know why. However, the information below should be taken as provisional)

It's a big list, and no doubt will be the subject of much comment on the Scottish Curling Forum.

I'll not list all everything here. I've already posted the Olympic Squad athlete names (here). They are Euan Byers, Ewan MacDonald, David Murdoch, Peter Smith, Warwick Smith, Craig Wilson, Karen Addison, Lynn Cameron, Jackie Lockhart, Eve Muirhead, Lorna Vevers and Kelly Wood. The others, supported by the Scottish Institute of Sport and named today, are Vicki Adams, Kerry Barr, Ron Brewster, Tom Brewster, Colin Campbell, Anne Laird, Sarah Macintyre, Duncan Fernie, Ross Hepburn, Barbara McFarlane, Claire Milne, Mairi Milne, Sarah Reid, Rachael Simms and Lindsay Wood.

The seven teams receiving support in the RCCC's National Academy are:
Gillian Howard, Kay Adams, Linsey Spence, Jennifer Priestley
Hannah Fleming, Rebecca Kesley, Alice Spence, Abigail Brown
John Hamilton, Philip Garden, Iain Chalmers, Graeme Copland
Glen Muirhead, Greg Drummond, Scott Macleod, Scott Andrews
Claire Hamilton, Lauren Gray, Rhiann Macleod, Caitlin Barr
Alan Smith, Neil McArthur, David Reid, Mark Fraser
Kerr Drummond, James Dunn, Thomas Pendreigh, Blair Fraser

A description of the Performance Pathway for curling in Scotland is on the Royal Club website here.

Curling to feature on BBC Scotland reality show

You may not be a fan of reality television shows, but this is something that, as a curler, you will want to know about. And if you fall into the Editor's generation, and someone says to you that they want to 'encourage older people to feel good about themselves', then you will probably sit up and take notice!

Older people? It's the over 50s that are being targeted. It all began last May when BBC Scotland and the Big Lottery Fund launched PRIMETIME, an initiative to celebrate and promote health, wellbeing, fitness and physical activity for today’s over-50s in Scotland.

It seems that the Big Lottery Fund has £3 million to give to six projects. Who gets the money? This is where the reality TV comes in. The organisers advertised for bids for funding from projects which 'encourage older people to feel good about themselves, improve links between the generations and contribute to our communities'. It's a 'competition' where the winners will get the money, the losers go away with nothing!

Ideas such as ‘over-50s footie’ and ‘glamorous grannies gardening’ were floated. Bidders who could apply for awards of between £100,000 and £500,000 for projects lasting between one and five years were encouraged to 'think big and be imaginative'.

A group from the Border Ice Rink, Kelso, decided to play the game, and their bid, with the title 'Primetime to Curl and Sweep away the Years' (or simply Time to Curl'), has made it to the final televised stages of the event. We'll all have to watch the series which begins on BBC Television in Scotland on Monday, August 25, or one of the programmes on the following five weeks, to find out the details of the Kelso bid. Nothing has been revealed as yet, apart from the fact that it uses daytime ice and could be a blueprint for other Scottish rinks. Kelso's curling project will be up against two other projects in Ayrshire and the south of Scotland, on one of the shows, and, after a public vote, one of these will get money to make their project happen.

There is a serious side to it all of course. Scotland has Europe’s fastest aging population and in the next ten years half of our population will be over fifty.

BBC's blurb about the programme says, "We want to promote the positive role older people play in Scotland and highlight the contribution we can all make to our communities, whatever our age. We'll celebrate the contribution today’s over-50s make to life in Scotland and showcase the huge range of activities and initiatives available to participate in. Presenter Dougie Vipond will take BBC Scotland audiences to meet dozens of inspirational local heroes who are using their time, often as volunteers, to benefit not only themselves and their peers, but the wider community."

Congratulations go to the Kelso group (pictured below) on their initiative in getting this far. Can they win the money? Let's be realistic. It will probably depend little on the objective merits of the project, but the popularity of the filmed presentation with the public who watch the programme. Of course, if every curler in the country voted, that would help!

You have questions? Find some answers here.

The Kelso Primetime Team. Back L-R: Bill Cleghorn, Margaret Sturrock, Roberta Ann Forrest, Helen Mathieson and David Sturrock. Front: Jim Buchanan (Area Development Officer), Jean Robertson (Border Region Lottery Officer), Peter Bowyer and Bert Duncan (Chairman). Photo courtesy of Jim Buchanan.

May 27, 2008

Team Murdoch invited to demonstration event in Russia

A shopping mall in St Petersburgh, Russia, will be the venue for a demonstration international curling event, July 25-27. New curling sponsor Adamant, a large property management and development company, is behind the promotional event in association with the World Curling Tour-Europe.

The tournament will be held in one of Adamant's shopping centres on a permanent ice surface therein. Photos of what it is like are here.

Participating teams will be skipped by Murdoch, Brad Gushue, Paal Trulsen, Thomas Ulsrud and Andi Kapp, as well as local teams.

This is a demonstration event only, so no Tour points will be awarded. The organisers have planned for several four-end games. Some social events, sightseeing and media events have been organized for the players.

WCT-e Director Armin Harder tells Curling Today that Adamant has signed a long term contract with the European Tour that will see a yearly WCT-e tournament in Russia beginning in season 2009-10.

Murdoch, who is a WCT-e players' representative, will take his team, the current European Champions and runners-up at the World Championship at Grand Forks: Graeme Connal, Peter Smith and Euan Byers. He says, "We are all looking forward to playing in St Petersburg. It's probably a once in a lifetime chance to play in such a historic city. The ice could be interesting thoough, being in a shopping centre and it being the end of July!"

The provisional dates of other WCT-e competitions this coming season are now available on the WCT-e website.

Elsewhere on the Curling in Russia site (here) there is an extensive photo gallery of curling in that country.

Team Murdoch at Grand Forks by Hugh Stewart. L-R: David Murdoch, Graeme Connal, Peter Smith, Euan Byers.

May 26, 2008

Curlers selected for World Universiade

So who will be in the GB curling teams at the World University Games, in Harbin, China, February 18-28, 2009? Registrations of interest were asked for recently, as we noted here.

British Curling has announced the names, four men and five women, today. The official news is here.

To be eligible, athletes must be students and under the age of 28. Andrew Craigie, John Hamilton, Glen Muirhead and Thomas Pendreigh have been selected as the men's team. Andrew and John were in the silver medal winning team at the 2007 Winter Universiade Games. I suspect John is the skip, although this has not been confirmed. Interesting that only four curllers have been selected!

Kay and Vicki Adams, Laura Kirkpatrick, Sarah Macintyre and Sarah Reid are the women's squad. The two Sarahs won gold for Scotland at the World Junior Curling Championships in 2007. Kay and Vicki Adams and Sarah Macintyre won gold at the 2008 World Junior Championships. Sarah Reid will be the women's skip, I would suggest.

National coach Cate Brewster said, "I'm looking forward to working with all the squad athletes in the run up to the Games, it will be an exciting time for everyone."

The Scottish Curling Forum has an interesting thread (here) over the difficulties the students might face next season if they are planning to play in other top Scottish competitions.

Top: Sarah Reid
Above: John Hamilton
Pics by Bob

May 24, 2008

Where is Scotland's National Curling Academy going to be?

Remember the Centre of Excellence/National Curling Academy - a rink where Scotland's top curlers have a base to train and practise? For a (long) while it was hoped that Stirling would be the venue, but that fell through in November last year, see here.

Late last year the Royal Club was asking for expressions of interest from individuals or groups, with a deadline of December 31. Information packages were distributed. Specifications were issued.

What is the Royal Club is looking for?

This is from the specifications: 'It is important to realise that the NCA is not an ice rink for the exclusive use of Scotland’s elite curlers. It is a rink that is built with their needs and requirements in mind. The NCA will also need to be a rink that serves the needs and requirements of local club curlers and provide them with a facility that they can use and be proud of. What the NCA will provide is an identified centre at which Scotland’s top curlers can work with their coaches in favourable conditions at suitable times to help them continue to achieve the medal results that they have achieved over the past few years. Squads working at the NCA would include those from the Scottish Institute, the local Area Institute, National Academy and the local Regional Academy. It would also provide a base for the British Olympic and Paralympic programmes when they are running.'

A closing date was set of the end of March for those serious in taking a bid forward. So what's happened since then?

Well, four applications are currently being looked at. The idea is to find a preferred venue that the Royal Club can support in its dealings with sportscotland to get the funding that is available for the National Curling Academy project.

Two of the four possible venues have been talked about for a while. A six sheet rink at Ratho, a replacement for the much missed Gogar Park, has received planning permission and was described on Curling Today in August 2007, see here. The history and development of the project can be found on the Gogar website here.

The Fife Curling Trust wants to build a new rink at Cupar .... or perhaps at Glenrothes, and fundraising activities are underway. In a news item in April those behind the project say, "The facility is a 6 sheet rink housed in a building that uses innovative design and technology. At either site, the rink would be situated as part of a larger sports campus and ancillary sports resources." The website with more details is here.

The third bid is from Midlothian Council, and I have not been able to obtain any information of this.

The fourth, revealed here for the first time, is from the Montgomery Hotel Group, the parent of the existing four sheet rink at the Green Hotel in Kinross. The new five sheet rink will implement the ideas laid out for the Circle Project, see here. The ethic of the Scottish Curling Ice Group is to provide 'excellent curling ice'.

In terms of location, accommodation, and a successful record of curling at Kinross, this last proposal is an exciting one.

The Montgomery Hotel Group bid may have another advantage. The specifications for the NCA raised the possibility of the venues providing office accommodation for the Royal Club as a replacement for Cairnie House, and accommodation for a permanent curling museum. Additional funding would be available for this. The Kinross submission has both as an integral part of its plans, although both Gogar and Fife have indicated that space could be provided for these too.

Currently Royal Club Board members Anne Malcolm, Jeanette Johnston, Lockhart Steele, and Mike Ferguson are looking at the submissions from each of the potential venues, including their business plans. Site visits are about to take place.

What's the timescale for an announcement? "Sometime over the summer," according to CEO Colin Grahamslaw. We have to be patient for a bit longer to find out where the National Curling Academy is going to be!

May 23, 2008

Award for Graham Boyd

Graham Boyd from Ayr Curling Club (that's him looking surprised on the right in the photo above) has received an award for his contributions to the sport over many years. At the South Ayrshire Sports Council Awards ceremony held in County Hall in Ayr on May 21, Graham received the Local Service to Sport award.

This is what was announced at the presentation: “Graham Boyd has been a curler for all his adult life. Since 1980 he has participated in coaching curlers. From 1980 until 1983 he assisted other coaches at Ayr ice rink. In 1983 he underwent training and qualified as a Royal Caledonian Curling Club coach. He has been a Grade B coach since that grade was introduced. Grade B is the highest grade for full coach/instructors. In that capacity he has for many years been 'lead coach' at Ayr and has organised and played a major part in coaching classes for beginners, juvenile and adult, and for people who wish to improve their skills. More than 1000 persons have gone through his adult beginners’ courses in 88 such courses. He has held 20 improvers’ courses. All this work has been undertaken in his own time for the love of the game of curling and not for any reward of any kind beyond the satisfaction of seeing his pupils take up the game. He has inspired many persons by his dedication."

Graham also received a sportscotland Local Services to Sport award.

Many congratulations to Graham on this well deserved recognition of what he has done for curling.

May Steel's photo shows various award winners, the chairman of South Ayrshire Sports Council and Graham Boyd on the stair at County Buildings, Ayr.

May 22, 2008

Chamonix 1924 Olympic medals acquired by Royal Caledonian Curling Club

Not everyone shares my interest in the history of our sport, but perhaps you can imagine my excitement when David Smith told me that two of the Gold medals won by the British curling team in the 1924 International Week of Winter Sports organised by the International Olympic Committee were for sale. This event was the first Winter Olympics! The medals were won by WK Jackson (skip) and his son Lawrence Jackson (lead) who played with Tom Murray (2nd) and Robin Welsh (3rd) in Chamonix.

William Kilgour Jackson farmed in Symington in Lanarkshire. He was the best known Scottish curler of the inter-war period. He skipped his rink to success in no fewer than fifty-nine competitions in Edinburgh Ice Rink alone, and scored many other triumphs. He was the top performer in the 1924 Scottish touring team to Canada.

He died in 1955, aged eighty-four. His collection of curling memorabilia and that of his son Lawrence passed to his grandson, James, whose widow, Sylvia Jackson, offered it to the Royal Caledonian Curling Club. An independent valuation was obtained - a five figure sum - and the purchase was agreed with the Royal Club's Charitable trust, made possible by the generous donation made for historical purposes by Bob Gardner of Falkirk last year.

The collection is still to be comprehensively catalogued but it contains in addition to the Olympic gold medals, 23 for winning the Edinburgh Ice Rink Directors' Trophy; 27 for the Linlithgow Trophy; 33 for the Robson Trophy; 25 for the Swan Trophy; and 18 for the World's Curling Championship (a Scottish competition but the most important of those run by Edinburgh Ice Rink in Haymarket). There are two medals for participating in the International Match between England and Scotland; one Edinburgh Meat Traders' Curling Club medal; one for the Manchester Ice Palace Shield. There is also Jackson's gold presidential medal of Edinburgh Ice Rink and a gold life membership medal awarded to him by the Canadian Branch of the RCCC, when he was touring in Canada.

A number of the club badges which he brought back from this tour are also in the collection with newspaper cuttings, and photographs.

A treasure trove indeed, which hopefully all will go on display at some point in the future.

Thanks to David Smith for much of the detail. Above: the front of a Gold Medal awarded in 1924.

The British team at the 1924 Olympic Games. L-R: WK Jackson, Robin Welsh, Tom Murray, Lawrence Jackson. From a Royal Caledonian Curling Club Annual, courtesy of David B Smith.

Action in Chamonix 1924. From the Official Report of the 1924 Olympics. This is available as a (large) pdf file from the Digital Achive of the Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles website here.

Sylvia Jackson and Royal Club trustee David B Smith with just a few of the medals and pins in the Jackson collection. Photo by Bob.

May 21, 2008

Muirhead team selected for European Junior Challenge

Glen Muirhead, Scott Macleod, Scott Andrews and Gordon McDougall, with David Reid as fifth player, did not have the best of weeks at the World Junior Men's Championship in Ostersund, Sweden in March. They finished in ninth place in the rankings, winning two and losing seven of their round robin games. That means that a Scottish team will have to compete in the European Junior Challenge Competition 2009 in Taarnby, Copenhagen, early in January, to try to win one of two qualifying places for European teams for next season's World Junior Championship in Vancouver.

With McDougall now too old for juniors, Muirhead has put together a new team for next season, recruiting one of his main rivals, Greg Drummond, to play third. Scott Macleod will play second stones and Scott Andrews will be lead in the rink.

The Muirhead team have been selected to be the Scottish team in Taarnby. There had been some suggestions that there might be a playoff to decide which team would go to Denmark. But the Royal Club's Performance Committee has invited Glen and his team to take the responsibility of getting Scotland into the world top ten for the Vancouver Worlds.

The dates of the competition are January 2-8, 2009. The Taarnby Club's website is here.

Last season's European Junior Challenge was held in Prague, and twelve countries took part in the junior men's event, see the Curling Today post here.

Glen's photo from Ostersund is by Bob.

Wheelchair curlers compete in Italy

Two teams from South Lanarkshire Wheelchair Curling Club took part in a tournament in Biella, near Turin, last weekend, alongside ten Italian and Swiss teams.

“There may be no ice available in Scotland at this time of the year,” said SLWCC Secretary David Morgan, “but we found, via the Internet, this tournament was taking place, and got ourselves an invitation."

Half the teams were in wheelchairs, and half were able-bodied curlers. Bill Masterton and Jim Sellar skipped the two South Lanarkshire teams. Masterton’s team came fifth, and Sellars’ rink were sixth.

The rink at Biella is in a converted old textile mill. The rink has a website here.

The teams and helpers, including RCCC Lanarkshire Development Officer Jim Morrison, had a day's sightseeing to the Matterhorn.

May 14, 2008

Want to be the Royal Club's Vice-president?

Back in February 22, Curling Today reported that no-one had put their name forward for nomination as the Royal Caledonian Curling Club's Vice-president, and we discussed what might happen at the AGM on June 14.

A solution to the crisis has now been proposed, but you have to be familiar with time paradoxes to really understand what has to happen. I'll try and explain, although I did have to seek clarification myself from CEO Colin Grahamslaw before getting to grips with it! The essence though is simple - introduce a Special Resolution at the AGM to allow late nominations for the post to be accepted.

The problem is that voting for the position is carried out by representative members at the AGM, and not by postal vote as are the Board Directorships. So, nominations must be received in advance of the AGM date. If nominations are received, an election can be held IF the Special Resolution is passed on June 14.

The full text of the Special Resolution is here, but if you haven't seen it yet, just read the first part: (a) Article 5.3 shall be amended by the insertion of an additional sentence at the end to say “For the Annual General Meeting held in 2008, nominations for election called for in terms of Article 5.7 shall be lodged with the Royal Club by 6th June 2008.”

So what the representative members will be voting for on June 14 is for something to have happened weeks before that. Dr Who fans will have no problem with this, I'm sure!

In fact one nomination, for Bill Marshall, has been received already. If you know someone else who would like to serve, then you have until June 6 to get your nomination to Cairnie House.

And if the above has put you in the mood to exercise your democratic rights, you can now vote for your choices for the Gala Awards on the RCCC website here!

Bill Marshall's photo is by Jan Howard

May 13, 2008

Vernon controversy: an update

Following the incidents in Vernon at the World Women's Curling Championship, the Royal Club promised, on its website (here), that 'A full investigation into the circumstances and actions that led to Scotland take the ice with three players at (the) Women's World Championships will take place when the team return next week. The investigation will be led by an independant (sic) lawyer who will advise the Board on any actions which should be taken.'

This enquiry, which I - and no doubt many other Royal Club members - thought was underway, is not happening, at least not in quite the way it was first suggested!

The Royal Club did appoint a lawyer, Frank Gill, of Anderson Strathern, to carry out the enquiry. I understood that his remit was to report to the Royal Club Board, as noted on the statement on the RCCC website, once he had carried out his investigation. I reported this in the Scottish Curler magazine.

Last Friday it was pointed out to me that my article in the May Scottish Curler was out of date and that Frank Gill is no longer conducting the promised independent enquiry, but is solely now looking at complaints which have been brought forward by National Coach Derek Brown against Gail Munro and Lyndsay Wilson, and by Munro and Wilson against Brown.

I could not believe that this was true, and sought reassurance from RCCC CEO Colin Grahamslaw that an investigation was still in progress. I did not receive any response from Colin. It would appear that he too is the subject of an official complaint, which means that he cannot comment on the matter. He would neither confirm nor deny this today.

Let's step back and try make sense of what's happening.

Matt Murdoch, the Royal Club's vice-president, is according to the Royal Club's procedures (a document called 'Policy and Procedures for Dealing with the Conduct of Participants') the person to whom complaints are directed in the first instance. Matt had a conflict of interest in that he is father to Nancy Murdoch, formerly the Royal Club's Performance Development Coach and now coach to the British Olympic women's squad.

The Board's decision then was to put the complaints in the hands of Frank Gill. His job now is to investigate these complaints to ascertain if there needs to be 'conduct panels' convened to look at the complaints. We all await his report on the matter, and whether the complaints will be taken further. Should that happen further procedures are all laid out in the document mentioned above.

So what happened to the 'independent investigation'? Board Chairman Mike Ferguson insisted when asked about this today that there will still be an enquiry, but dealing with the complaints is the priority.

"We are following the procedures as advised to us by our lawyers," he said.

I asked specifically, "Is an independent enquiry, as promised on the Royal Club website following the events in Vernon, being undertaken at the moment?"

"It's not being undertaken at the moment," said Ferguson, "but it will form part of the process. There will be a report submitted to the Board and the Board will then action against the content of that report."


"Both I and the Board fully accept the Membership's concerns and frustrations of the time procedures and processes are taking and we as a Board are doing everything we can to expedite it as quickly as we possibly can. We have to work within the timescales set out in the procedures and I can't unfortunately give a definitive timescale at this stage. We are keen to inform the membership when we are in position to do so."

So, there we are. Make of that what you will. It would seem that we all have to wait somewhat longer to get some explanations of what happened in Vernon, and if there are lessons to be learned. This story has a long way to run.

Ladies Branch AGM

Scotland's women curlers were well represented at the AGM of the Royal Club Ladies' Branch today at Pollokshaws Burgh Halls.

President Patricia Thomson was in the chair. She admitted that it had been a challenging year, but all agree that she has done a sterling job in representing the Ladies' Branch both in committee and at events. She hands over now to Sheila Miller, with Kay Gibb moving up to Vice-president, and Brenda Macintyre, of the Belmaduthy Club, coming on as Junior Vice-president. Sadie Anderson continues as Treasurer.

As has been the format in recent years, much of the meeting was devoted to honouring the winners of the main women's events, both at home and abroad. Eve Muirhead and her junior team, the World Junior Champions, received special gifts, and gave a presentation about their season. Margaret Gibb spoke on behalf of the Kirsty Letton team which won silver in Vierumaki. Gail Munro was asked to speak twice. Firstly she recounted her extremely successful domestic season, with wins for her team(s) in the Mini Tour, Henderson Bishop and Gold League.

Later in the meeting she spoke again, in her position of having been Scotland's skip at the Worlds in Vernon. She avoided any specific mention of the details of the controversy (more of this in a separate post later), but made a special point of thanking Patricia Thomson, her husband and family, the Scottish supporters, and Rhona Martin, the team coach, for their support.

She said, "The last six weeks have been a living nightmare for me." She continued, "I feel let down by the Royal Caledonian Curling Club." She took her seat in to hall to resounding applause from the delegates.

An incoming tour from Sweden will be the highlight of the first week of November. The tour will start in Stranraer and the tourists will play in eight different venues. The details will be posted on the RCCC website.

Guest at the Ladies' Branch AGM was RCCC CEO Colin Grahamslaw who talked positively about a number of successful projects and ongoing initiatives. He gave the name of the person who will be taking over from Duthie Thomson at Cairnie House - Alistair Hibbert, a member of the Bank of Scotland CC, Fife. And Emma Sunderland will take over from Annette Williams when she goes on maternity leave soon.

Another guest, Board Chairman Mike Ferguson, spoke briefly at the end of the two and a half hour meeting, supporting the 'one curler, one vote' proposal that will be in front of the membership at the Royal Club AGM, June 14. He also summarised the ongoing work of the representational review group, on how Scottish rank and file curlers be represented on the governing body. It seems that it is generally agreed that there are too many layers at present. Two proposals are on the table for discussion. One is the status quo.

The other proposal would be for just one committee replacing the current Area Standing Committee and Ladies Standing Committee. Initial feedback suggests that there are many curlers wondering just how the latter option would work in practice. Consultation will continue for at least another year and proposals will not be brought to a vote before the AGM in 2009.

That change will not be an easy thing to achieve was evident when the most applause of the day followed new President Sheila Miller when she vowed to uphold the status of Ladies Branch and 'not to lose any more autonomy'.

We live in interesting times.

Top: L-R Brenda Macintyre, Sadie Anderson, Theresa McDougall (fulfilling her last job for the RCCC as the minutes secretary today), Patricia Thomson, Sheila Miller, Kay Gibb.
Middle: Sheila Miller.
Above: Delegates and guests gather at the beginning of the AGM.
Photos by Bob.

May 12, 2008

Applicants wanted for RCCC coaching position

Because Rhona Martin has taken over the position as RCCC Performance Development Coach, there is a vacancy at the West Area Institute. This post has been advertised today.

The advert can be found here.

In summary, the post is a temporary one, until August 2010. The successful applicant will play a role within the West Area Institute coaching programmes for curling under the guidance of Rhona and the West Area Manager. This role will include practical coaching, but also programme planning, development and management aspects. The coach will support Rhona in the delivery of the National Academy and Regional Academy programmes. The job will include some team management and coaching responsibilities for National Academy teams overseas.

The specific functions of the successful applicant will be to:

(1) Provide hands on coaching to Area Institute curlers and Academy level curlers.
(2) Provide annual individualised integrated training and competition plans for identified curlers.
(3) Provide support to Academy teams at international competitions.
(4) To represent the RCCC and the Area Institutes positively and proactively in all environments.

The post is a full time appointment with the Royal Club. The coach would not be able to continue to curl competitively at National Championship level.

A full information pack can be downloaded from the Royal Club here. Or by contacting Cairnie House. Closing date for applications is June 2.

May 10, 2008

Gladiators ready!

Here they are - the two GB Olympic curling squads for Vancouver 2010, as announced recently by British Curling. The twelve athletes, ten of whom will be selected next May for the two teams for the Games, assembled for a photocall with coaches Nancy Murdoch and David Hay at the Scottish Institute of Sport today.

The first commitment for the squads will be an intensive six days training camp in Cyprus, with British Curling's Performance Director, Derek Brown, and their support staff from the Institute, at the British Olympic Association's official warm weather training centre at the Coral Beach Hotel and Resort.

Back L-R: Jackie Lockhart, Lynn Cameron, Nancy Murdoch (team coach)
Front: Lorna Vevers, Kelly Wood, Eve Muirhead, Karen Addison

Back L-R: Peter Smith, Craig Wilson, Ewan MacDonald, David Hay (team coach)
Front: David Murdoch, Warwick Smith, Euan Byers

Pics by Bob

May 08, 2008

Changes at Cairnie House

Here it comes. This is Curling Today's post number 500. Not bad in little over a year!

So what's today's news? After 13 years working with the Royal Club, Theresa McDougall, the popular personal assistant to CEO Colin Grahamslaw, has decided to move on and will be leaving on May 21.

In an email to her contacts, Theresa says, "I have loved working for the Royal Club - so much - which basically means I have loved working for you and others like you - thank you so much for making my time here such a pleasure as well as a privilege and an honour."

Those of us who have worked with Theresa will miss her friendly face at Cairnie House, and wish her every success in the future.

Cairnie House will certainly have a new feel in the months ahead. Duthie Thomson (the Manager of Finance and Administration) will retire this summer (an announcement of a replacement is expected) and the Communications and Marketing Officer Annette Williams (nee Holmes) will be on maternity leave soon (again the the announcement of a temporary replacement is expected).

The image of Volvo 5144 comes from the Oxford and Chilterns Bus Page weekly news from July last. Lots more buses here. The photos of Theresa are from last year's Royal Club AGM by Bob who expects she will not miss having to take the verbatim minutes at the next AGM in June!

May 06, 2008

Braehead Curlathon Result

Remember the Curlathon, back in September last year (see report and photos here)? Linda Macdonald, the fundraising manager for the Highland Hospice, has now been in touch with the final overall figure raised:


This has been split three ways - to the Highland Hospice, St Vincent's Hospice, and Braehead Curling, this last planning to use their share towards purchase of new stones for the beginning of next season.

Well done to Judith McFarlane (above) who headed up the organising committee, and all who took part, some of whom you may, or may not, recognise below.

Photos by Bob.

May 05, 2008

May Scottish Curler

That's Colin Dick on the cover of the May issue of the Scottish Curler magazine, the last of the season. The magazine is on its way to subscribers this week. Colin skipped his team to victory at the Dumfries Junior International event last month, and of course won the U-17 Slam last season. There are more of Richard Gray's photos from Dumfries inside, including May's Photo of the Month.

There are reports on the Scottish Mixed Championship, the National Pairs and the Scottish Wheelchair Curling Championship, as well as the Ford World Women's from Vernon and the World Men's from Grand Forks by Christine and Hugh Stewart.

Yes, the Vernon controversy is reviewed, and, hopefully, there will be more to say about this on Curling Today in the weeks ahead.

Mike Ferguson, the Royal Club Chairman, had a challenge for everyone a couple of months ago, and now anwers some questions posed by Scottish Curler readers.

David Hibberd writes his first comment feature for the magazine, while Copey is his usual perceptive self in Behind the Glass.

Maryel FitzRandolph takes an in depth look at the RCCC's Club and Member Development Committee.

Gourock CC is Club of the Month and David B Smith describes curling in fashionable Knightsbridge, London, at the end of the nineteenth century in The Historical Bit!

Plus the regular Curling World, Looking Back, iCurl, Rock Rules, Sweepings and The Extra End features. And Hoggie!

And if you are not a subscriber, you can download a subscription form here.

May 01, 2008

Olympic and Paralympic squads announced

The squads for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Vancouver in 2010 were announced by British Curling today. Six men, six women and six wheelchair athletes have been selected for each squad.

The men are Euan Byers, Ewan MacDonald, David Murdoch, Peter Smith, Warwick Smith and Craig Wilson.

The women are Karen Addison, Lynn Cameron, Jackie Lockhart, Eve Muirhead, Lorna Vevers and Kelly Wood.

Tom Killin, Rosemary Lenton, Angie Malone, Michael McCreadie, Aileen Neilsen and Jim Sellar are the wheelchair curlers.

The full press release can be found here.

British Curling announced its performance plan on July 27 last year. This called for the selection of small squads, with a maximum of eight athletes in each. In the event, only six athletes have been selected for each squad. The plan calls for each squad to be reduced to five in May 2009.

Here are photos of the curlers some of whom will be wearing British colours at the Vancouver Olympics and Paralympics:

David Murdoch photo by Bob from the 2007 Europeans in Fussen

Peter Smith photo by Bob from the 2007 Europeans in Fussen

Euan Byers photo by Bob from the 2007 Europeans in Fussen

Warwick Smith photo by Bob from the Scottish Championship

Ewan MacDonald photo by Bob from the 2006 Scottish Championship

Craig Wilson photo by Richard Gray from the 2007 European Qualifying Competition

Kelly Wood photo by Bob from the 2007 Europeans in Fussen

Jackie Lockhart photo by Bob from the 2007 Europeans in Fussen

Lorna Vevers photo by Bob from the 2007 Europeans in Fussen

Lynn Cameron photo by Hugh Stewart from the 2008 Worlds in Vernon

Karen Addison photo by Hugh Stewart from the 2008 Worlds in Vernon

Eve Muirhead photo by Bob from the World Junior Championships in Ostersund

Michael McCreadie photo by Bob after the 2007 World Wheelchair Curling Championship

Angie Malone photo by Bob from the 2008 Scottish Wheelchair Championship

Aileen Neilsen photo by Bob from a training day at the Galleon in 2007

Pic of Jim Sellar and Rosemary Lenton from the 2008 Scottish Wheelchair Championship by Bob

Tom Killin photo by Bob from a British team training day at Braehead in 2006