Sunday, January 10, 2010

The future of curling freedom

Apparently, the police were trying to prevent people even going for a walk over the ice at the Lake of Menteith yesterday. What has our society come to? What absolute nonsense.

I enjoyed this lighthearted piece in the Guardian yesterday, which make a good point about the issues facing us today in this namby pamby society that has evolved where "the health and safety junta has stepped in to tell us we are incapable of looking after ourselves".

We are at war here, and curling has found itself at the forefront of a battle to preserve our personal freedoms. I used to be a keen hillwalker, even in winter. I had many friends who were climbers in all seasons. Mark my words, if curlers lose this battle, there will be police at the bottom of ever mountain in Scotland preventing you enjoying your sport. Climbing does have its dangers, yes. And people who go into the mountains responsibly know that. It's what makes life what it is!

Curlers are responsible too, and we have rights, surely. And I perceive we are just being made the target as a 'soft option' for criticism. Can we do anything? Yes we can. I received this email from my own club secretary today. It is being circulated widely by George Wills, the President of Howwood Curling Club. Please take time to read it, and I encourage you to then take some action, if only to help preserve the traditions and origins of our sport which I have tried to highlight on this blog in the past few days.

"My reason for contacting you is that I am appalled that the curling community in Scotland are being treated so badly by our public sector representatives who have chosen to invoke Health & Safety legislation to prevent a Grand Match from taking place. World wide Media coverage of this unique event was absolutely certain so this is a lost opportunity for Scotland to put its beauty and splendour on the world stage. It is also a lost opportunity for curling clubs to interest and hopefully recruit new members. And finally it prevents some 2,400 people from having a really good time doing something healthy, enjoyable and socially worthwhile.

I am therefore asking that you contact all of your members to ask those who feel let down and angry at the situation to DO SOMETHING. I feel that if we fail to respond, in sufficient numbers, to make our displeasure widely known then there will never be a Grand Match again.

I am suggesting that they phone or email their MP and MSP and ask them for their reaction to the fact that legislation passed by them is being used by the Police, Fire Service and Ambulance Service to prevent a group of people from enjoying themselves in a healthy outdoor pastime. Point out that all clubs participating have a Grand Match Secretary who, every year, makes sure that all equipment necessary will be available if a Grand Mach takes place. Emphasise that we are not talking about 2,400 inexperienced people being let loose on treacherous ice, but 2,400 experienced curlers organised in a Grand Match on ice which is totally safe and with the correct equipment. These are curlers who understand the dangers of the sport and take great care to prevent accidents on a day to day basis through their club curling. Finally be firm and polite but insist that your elected representatives look closely at this legislation to prevent it being used to ban legitimate sporting or other events which are "too much trouble" for the public services involved. I would suggest that you close by ask for their assurance that a Grand Match will not be prevented from taking place in the future. Some members might also consider writing to their local papers in the same terms, or making their views known on local and national radio where possible.

Please do this. If we all phone or email our MP/MSP they will react. There is an election coming up and they should all respond to phone calls and emails of complaint. The following links will confirm your MSP details:

This link will confirm who your MP is:

For the sake of future curling freedom do it now.

Thanks for reading this and good luck in your calls.

George Wills
Howwood Curling Club, and Member of Cawder House Curling Club's Grand Match team, who have looked forward to this year's event with a sense of excitement and anticipation."

Pic of curling on Lake of Menteith on Friday © Skip Cottage