Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Allister's Memorial Seat

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

Friday, November 04, 2011

Scottish Curling Magazines

The Royal Club's e-magazine YOUR Curler, published first in October 2011 as a 'Members' Benefit', joins a select few Scottish magazines which have been produced over the years. This list concentrates on national publications, not including the Royal Club Annual. Also excluded are publications associated with specific events, such as the Hogliner in its various incarnations, and other ice rink based newsletters.

The Royal Caledonian Curling Club's Royal Club Round Up ran from 1993 to 2000. At least twenty-five issues were printed. It was variously a four or eight page publication.

The publication that stimulated my own interest in the printed word about curling was Tee to Tee. This was brought out by Graeme Adam in the late 1970s, really as a challenge to the Scottish Curler which, as younger curlers, we all thought a bit staid at that time. Above is the November 1977 issue, Number 2. I believe there was an Issue 3.

Richard Harding's Curling was first published in October 1982. The front cover of Issue 1 marked the opening of the four-sheeter in Pitlochry. It had 28 pages. The magazine ran for four seasons, with six or seven issues each year with a varied number of pages. The final issue to appear was in April 1986.

On The Button was a simple newsletter produced by The Curlers Association. At least nine issues were printed.

Frank Tocher produced five issues of this newsheet Curling beginning in November 1992 with the above. The lead story is about the Kilmarnock and District Council Cashspiel at the Galleon.The £1000 first prize was the biggest in Scotland at the time.

Scottish Curling Magazine was set up by Frank Tocher in 1999 in opposition to the Scottish Curler. It ran for just three issues.

So, what publication was a constant feature of the Scottish curling scene for so many years? It was, of course, the Scottish Curler, which was published from 1954 - 2010.

This is the cover of the January 1954 Scottish Curler. Robin Welsh was the first editor, before he became Secretary of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club.

For many years the distinctive tartan cover was the trademark of the Scottish Curler.

When Robin Welsh retired as RCCC Secretary he was able to devote more time to the magazine which became bigger and had much more content. This is the September 1985 issue. It was published then by Dunfermline Press.

By 1998, Robin Welsh had been editor of the Scottish Curler for an incredible forty-four years. On Robin's retiral, another Robin, Robin Crearie, became the editor for four seasons, beginning with this October 1998 issue.

I took over as editor in October 2002, and held this position until April 2009. Fifty-six issues, all but one of 24-pages, were published during this time. In January 2004, the magazine celebrated its fiftieth birthday with this special 40-page issue.

Caroline Paterson was the editor of the magazine for the season 2009-10, the magazine being the responsibility of the Ardrossan arm of Clyde and Forth Press. The final issue of the magazine was the souvenir edition after the RCCC Curling Awards dinner in 2010.

Having a library of curling publications spanning all these years provides a superb resource for those interested in the history of curling in Scotland.

Thanks to John Brown and to Christine and Hugh Stewart for help with this post.