Barriers came crashing down at Border Ice Rink on Saturday when some unlikely candidates got together with the collective aim of highlighting disability sport.
Scottish folk legend and artist Ronnie Browne, The Southern Reporter, Ataxia UK East of Scotland branch and the Borders Wheelchair Curling Club joined up for a day of fun, socialising and sportsmanship, and the hope of promoting the ‘Roaring Game’ to all and sundry.
The disabled curlers may have had the edge on the ice, but in the case of friendships formed and important links made, the occasion was declared an undoubtedly successful stalemate.
The initial idea for the get-together came from Browne, patron of the Ataxia branch, who just happened to overhear two of the group’s members, John Hunter from Selkirk and John Reid from Hawick, talking about going curling.
“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” said Browne. “Here were these two guys, in wheelchairs, dealing with severely-debilitating symptoms, talking about going off curling.”
Browne discovered that both Johns have been members of the Borders Wheelchair CC for several years and immediately set about organising a trip for others in his branch, including himself and carers, to come down to Kelso and try it for themselves.
“The benefits are obvious in terms of both physical and emotional wellbeing,” he added.
Celebrating his 66th birthday on the day, Hunter told us: “Curling is a hugely important part of my life. I used to wheelchair race, but am unable to do that anymore, but I can still curl and enjoy both the sport and the friendship within the group.”
The visitors were welcomed to the ice rink by Borders Wheelchair Curling Club chairman Ewan Girvan, who was, in turn, thanked by Ataxia UK East of Scotland branch chairman Pete Dalby. Following the curling, the branch treated the company to lunch.
Ataxia, meaning lack of order, affects more than 10, 000 people in the UK and causes sufferers problems with movement, balance and speech. There is currently no cure.
For more information on Ataxia, email firstname.lastname@example.org, and for wheelchair curling, contact Valerie Robertson on 01896 823690.