David B Smith writes:
"I was intrigued when fellow-member of Kilmarnock and District History Group, Sandy McIntosh, asked me if I had seen the bench seat in the Burns Monument Gardens at Alloway which had a curling scene on it.
At the earliest opportunity I was down in Alloway, and, on a terrace just below the monument and above the River Doon, I found the seat. Sure enough it had a curling scene on it.
The bench consisted of two vertical stone ends between which ran the timber planks which formed the seat. The outer ends of each stone bore decoration. The curling scene was a representation of a 'house', that is, the concentric circles round the tee, on which five miniature curling stones were attached by means of stainless steel handles. All were made of stone from Ailsa Craig.
On the other end was an inscription which surprised and moved me, for it showed that the seat was a memorial to that remarkable young curler, Allister Boyd, and I had heard nothing of this memorial.
The inscription reads simply 'Allister Boyd. Truly Inspiring'.
Allister’s history IS truly inspiring. He had a brain tumour diagnosed in October 2005, and underwent apparently successful treatment for it in the Beatson Clinic in Glasgow. However, in August 2008 the tumour recurred and with it the diagnosis that it was terminal. He died on April 4, 2009, at the age of nineteen.
Throughout his illness Allister never lost his cheery and positive view of life. He decided to raise funds for the two charities that had helped him, Teenage Cancer Trust and CLIC Sargent. The energy which he put into his fund-raising activities was truly amazing. Allister’s efforts resulted in about £180,000 before his death. The efforts have been continued by family and friends and up to the present about £500,000 has been gathered in his name.
The reason for the curling part of the design was Allister’s keen enjoyment of the game. His father Robert was the area representative for Ayr on the Royal Caledonian Curling Club, and wee brother Russell and he were enthusiastic members of Ayr Junior CC.
The commissioning of the seat came about when 'the lady who ran' Ayrshire Business in the Community Initiative, a body which promotes ways in which businesses can become involved in local communities in Ayrshire, read about Allister’s achievements, and suggested to two apprentice stonemasons at Culzean that they should design and make a bench seat in his memory as part of an ABiC competition. This they did and although they did not win, their efforts have provided a very fitting memorial to a remarkable young man."
David B Smith.
• The Burns Monument.
• The seat in its place in the gardens of the Burns Monument, Alloway.
• The seat end with the curling house.
• The seat end with Allister Boyd’s name. Below this are the logos of the two charities.
Photos © David B Smith