As the winter chill arrives, the excitement levels are rising in the world of curling as a Borders family step up their claims on Scottish crowns.
The Bryce siblings, who live in the village of Linton, near Kelso, have been curling on the national circuit for four years with notable highlights, but this season they are moving into a new sphere of competition and success.
Cameron (19) and Amy (16) were introduced to the sport at Border Ice Rink in Kelso, nurtured along with other keen youngsters by legendary volunteer Jim Buchanan and his dedicated team of coaches, until a squad was formed to compete throughout Scotland in various tournaments.
Their 12-year-old brother Angus caught the bug and has himself travelled all over the country competing in the past two seasons.
Now it is getting serious. In the first two months of this season, Angus’s team, who are mainly from Lockerbie, won the Low Road final at their home tournament and achieved a remarkable eight-ender at the recent Under-17 Slam event in Hamilton – an achievement enjoyed by a small percentage of curlers in their lifetime and the first time this has happened at this age level.
Angus’s Under-14 team also won the first leg of the Slam at Aberdeen in October.
Amy’s mixed under-17 team won the Low Road at Hamilton, but her under-21 team have surprised themselves with phenomenal success already this season. They have won two of the three under-21 Slam titles, in Kinross and then at Inverness, and now have a chance of winning the overall ‘Slam Championship’ when the final tournament is played at Lockerbie prior to Christmas. And it does not stop there for the Bryces.
Cameron has grown out of the under-17s, but his talent has been recognised by the Royal Caledonian Curling Club (RCCC) through selection as one of eight boys, alongside eight girls, for the Royal Club Academy, where he will receive additional top-class coaching and the chance to participate abroad.
His season kicked off at the Braehead Junior International near Glasgow, where his team finished third overall, before winning the National Super League finals at Forfar with his team from last season whilst at University in Dundee.
His under-21 team also emerged champions at the recent Inverness Junior International to claim an historic family double.
An RCCC official stated: “The quality of curling in some of the games was the best I have seen for some years.”
Cameron’s team consists of two curlers from Dumfries, one from Stranraer and himself as skip, and the Kelso youngster is eager to encourage more across the region to take up the winter sport.
Currently taking a gap year from university, he was recently appointed ‘Curling Development Officer’ by Border Ice Rink, where he hopes to attract more people of all ages to the sport and enable them to develop further.
Also competing in National competitions is Neil Sutherland, another young curler from Kelso, who reached the finals at both Greenacres and Inverness, and the youngsters have asked The Southern Reporter to extend their thanks to the team sponsors and Roxburgh Sports Council/Clubsport Roxburgh, as well as the coaches who give up their time on a Monday voluntarily, and without whom they could not have achieved this success.