Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The Second Twenty-Five Years

This book dropped through my letterbox last week, and I was delighted to see it. It's the history of the past twenty-five years of the Ladies' Branch of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club, as seen through the eyes of past-presidents and others. It will be on sale next week.

It was in 2008 that the late (and much missed) Elizabeth Paterson-Brown persuaded Sheila Miller to write a sequel to The First Twenty Five Years which had been compiled by Marjorie Broatch. That record of the origins and early years of the Ladies' Branch was a simple typed manuscript with no illustrations, and not readily available. It is now.

I have to confess to having a minor involvement in all this. Sheila approached me at the beginning of last season to ask if I might help as the editor of the new book. It was initially considered that 'The First 25' might be included, either as the introduction, or as an appendix. The first step was to retype the manuscript so it could be available in digital form. Suzy Wakefield and Sheila did that. Then, I spent many hours going through the text. It's not an easy read, but describes in considerable detail what was happening in curling in Scotland, and the world, in the years 1958-1985. With the Royal Club's blessing, a letter was sent on November 22, 1958, from Irene Cleland to all ladies’ clubs affiliated to the RCCC intimating that a meeting would be held on Monday, December 1, 1958, in the Scottish Ice Rink, Titwood Road, Glasgow, when it was hoped that each club would send as many representatives as possible. This was the first step towards the formation of a Ladies’ Committee, the forerunner of the Ladies’ Branch, which was formally constituted in July 1961.

As it turned out, the text of the 'The First 25' was not included in Sheila's new book! But I'm pleased to say that 'The First 25' is now available as a pdf file for download, here. For a small charge, Cairnie House will print a copy for you. If you are interested in the sport's history, this is a definite 'must have' for your library.

Sheila decided that 'The Second 25' would be different. She persuaded the surviving past-presidents to provide her with their reminiscences of their year in office. Along with contributions from our gold medallists and others, she has compiled an illustrated history full of memoirs and anecdotes which is both interesting and amusing. There are more than one hundred photos in the book.

It is not my place to write a review of the book, given my small involvement in it. I leave it to others to pick up the mistakes, find the inconsistencies, and say what they think. But I do believe that Sheila has done a splendid job, and Ladies' Branch: The Second Twenty Five Years provides an excellent record of the activities of ladies' curling in Scotland in recent years. And if it raises some funds for junior curling, so much the better. The proceeds from the sale of Ladies' Branch: The Second Twenty Five Years will support ladies’ curling, including juniors who were always Elizabeth Paterson-Brown's main love.

The official launch of the book will be at the celebratory bonspiel and lunch, one of the Ladies' Branch 50th anniversary year activities, at the Dewar's Centre in Perth on March 10.

Ladies' Branch: The Second Twenty Five Years is priced at £10.00 and can be purchased from any Ladies' Branch Centre Representative or from the Ladies’ Branch merchandising officer, Jenny Stark. If you have difficulty obtaining a copy of the book, contact Cairnie House, details here.