May 29, 2008

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.

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