An excellent way to lose a few 'stones'

AROUND 60 people swept into Kelso's Border Ice Rink on Saturday to give the sport of curling a try.

The success of the evening proves that even six years after Scot Rhona Martin grabbed gold at the Winter Olympics in that memorable final, the sport still commands great interest.

Jim Buchanan, Border Curling's development officer said: "I'm absolutely delighted with the turnout tonight – it's really encouraging to see so many people come along to have a shot at curling for the first time.

"We're just trying to introduce new people to curling and let them see what it's all about. Hopefully, some will come back and eventually join a club and become curlers themselves.

"There are 23 clubs curling out of Kelso from as far afield as Glendale in the south, Yester in the north, Selkirk and Teviotdale in the west and Foulden in the east. The rest are all scattered in between.

"In all, there are about 600 curlers who curl out of Kelso – not counting the schoolchildren.

"In the schools' competition last year, we had 232 children competing. We have started a Monday night session for the children and it has proved very successful, with about 40 coming every week."

As Jim ran his eye over the new 'recruits', we asked him if he could see any potential stars in the making.

He said: "Well, you never know, this is the first stage.

"The sky is the limit – they can go as far as they like. There is plenty of opportunity once they leave here."

In the sessions, coaches took the rookies through the basics of sweeping, delivering and the art of staying on your feet, before they were pitted against each other in a three-end match.

We spoke to some of those taking their first tentative steps on the ice.

Coldstream's Lisa Lauder managed to score with her last stone in the first end of her match.

She told us: "It's really good fun.

"I think I would like to give this another go. We'll see – as long as I don't fall over before the end of the night."

And golfer Terry Dewis of Kelso said: "I saw it advertised on the internet and I'm after a hobby to do in the winter.

"I play golf during the summer, but in the winter I'm always looking for something to do and something like this is ideal.

"I think it brings out the competitive edge in people. I think I'll come back – it's really good."

With people from all ages and all walks of life trying out the sport for the first time – and getting well and truly hooked – the future of the sport is undoubtedly positive. It's helped no end by the bright, friendly welcome visitors to the rink are assured.

If you would like to try curling, you could call Border Ice Rink on 01573 224774. They will sweep you in the right direction.

Click here for the report on Saturday's come and try night.

Curling fact File

Although the true origins of the game are not known, the first hand-written record of what could be called an early curling game dates from February, 1540, when John McQuhin of Scotland noted down, in Latin, a challenge to a game on ice between a monk named John Sclater and an associate, Gavin Hamilton

Millions of viewers were glued to their sets in February 2002 as Scots mother of two Rhona Martin, right, sealed victory at Salt Lake City with the last stone of the thrilling final

Just last year, Berwickshire's Keith Prentice and Kelso's Tommy Fleming helped Scotland win gold in the World Senior Championships in Edmonton

Curling is sometimes known as 'the roaring game' due to the sound the stones make on the ice