SIE Intern of the Year

Delighted to have been named SIE (Scottish Institute for Enterprise) Intern of the Year for the University of the West of Scotland for the academic session of 2015/2016.

Scottish Institute for Enterprise (SIE) are a government funded charitable organisation whose aim is to promote and support entrepreneurship and enterprise amongst Scotland’s students. My role within the university is to support SIE’s work and raise awareness of our competitions and services amongst students and educators.

This year, SIE appointed two interns for the University of the West of Scotland, Julie McElroy, who is currently a final year PhD student based within the University’s School of Computing, was born both profoundly deaf and with Cerebral Palsy, which affects the messages sent between the brain and the muscles as well as her movements and co-ordination and Angela Castellano is a second year undergraduate Web and Mobile Development student. Angela reprised her role having started with SIE in a voluntary Ambassador position in 2014 before becoming an SIE intern last year.

Julie and Angela’s remit with the SIE was to complement the current activities of the SIE team, working closely to support initiatives which stimulate entrepreneurship within the student population at UWS. The key requirement was to support SIE activities and initiatives, for the benefit of UWS.

This year has been a successful year for SIE at UWS as Julie and Angela set out a clear objective to engage with staff and students at UWS. During their seven months internship, they have covered all four campuses, engaged with over 100 staff, engaged with over 1000 students. UWS interns were the first to represent at the first TEEN (Tertiary Education Enterprise Network) and more importantly encouraging students to enter annual SIE cash prizes competitions.

Julie says ” I am delighted for UWS and SIE. We set out to achieve & deliver a transformational turnaround for them both before I finished University.  Angela and I had a vision to improve engagement, collaboration with staff and connection with students. The rewards of hard work paid off. Thankyou to all the staff and students throughout UWS this year for their engagement”.



Scottish Indoor Bowls Awards 2015

The first Scottish Indoor Bowls (SIBA) Awards was launched on Saturday 26th September 2015.

The inaugural Scottish Indoor Bowls Awards is seen as a catalyst from Glasgow 2014 legacy. Three years ago when I started out on the ParaSports journey for the Glasgow Evening Times & Glasgow 2014, I explored five ParaSports and one of them was Lawn Bowls, (Para-Bowls). During the course of the engagement with the Bowls community, I realised they didn’t have their designated Awards ceremony to highlight the talents, dedication and passion that individuals put into their Sport.

After initiating the idea with a former Commonwealth Bowler, Linda Brennan about the scope and potential for the Scottish Indoor Bowls Awards to be born, the enthusiasm grew and it was convinced that the Bowls community would back it over time.

“It was a privileged to witness that legacy can happen. Legacy happens to everyone, however it happens by people. Glasgow 2014 and the Glasgow Evening Times gave me the ‘task’ to champion ParaSports and many more along the way. Wishing Scottish Indoor Bowls Association (SIBA) all the best for their future Awards Ceremonies”.

Julie achieved Bronze National Navigation Award

Julie McElroy completed her Bronze Level of the National Navigation Award Scheme, (NNAS) earlier this month with her tutor and assessor, Robert Bell.

NNAS (National Navigation Award Scheme) is concerned personal performance, non-competitive and allows participants to gain technical competence in navigation. 

Since May this year, Robert has spent time preparing Julie to complete the Bronze Level of the National Navigation Award Scheme. The National Navigation Award Scheme is a very rigorous in terms of practicality and this was a huge undertaking for Julie.

Robert who lives in Edinburgh and is a qualified NNAS Course Provider and Assessor worked with Julie. He said, ‘Being Julie’s tutor and assessor was an interesting challenge from the start to end. The NNAS programme (assessment) is physically and mentally demanding and I had to bear this in mind when working with Julie.  However after discussing with Julie what she wanted to achieve and what I could offer/do to help her achieve this, then a plan of action was agreed upon’.

Julie who stacked up many accomplishments in the outdoor pursuits says ‘Completing Bronze Level of the National Navigation Award was tough. Due to my disability, I have to use walking sticks while out in the wilderness and my manual dexterity was the biggest of having to hold a map and compass was not easy as it seemed’.

One of the components of completing the National Navigational Award is applying theory into practice. Robert took the challenge and opportunity to take Julie to walk a section of the Pentland Hills in Edinburgh. Robert acknowledged that this navigational component was hard for Julie. He went on to say ‘Julie’s challenge was her disability, being the sheer complexity of her walking gait and of course, her deafness.  Julie can tire quite quickly due to the physical exertion on her body, this meant not only would it be physically demanding but mentally too. However, knowing of Julie’s previous achievements in the outdoor pursuits arena, I knew her determination to succeed would get her through’.

It clear that Julie and Robert had to work in partnership and two words between them were trust and patience.  Robert went onto say ‘I needed Julie to trust and believe that through me, she would gain the NNAS Bronze Navigation award. This I had to achieve from the start and then the assessment, the trust and patience grew from that.

The completion of her latest outdoor award add to her growing list of outdoor accomplishments. Robert is delighted to have played a part in this next chapter with Julie who is moving onto a new phase in her life, he said ‘It means a lot, as, up until now, I had never worked with a person with a disability on the NNAS programme.  From having worked with Julie it has given me a new insight into working with people with disabilities.

Julie relishes another feat had been completed, Robert is too as when asked how more tutors could facilitate opportunities for people with disabilities to complete the National Navigation Award Scheme, he went on to say, ‘If I can convey any message then it would be this, have the confidence, manner, attitude, diligence and enthusiasm to make it enjoyable. Patience is what I would say, a big factor also and take into consideration the person with a disability needs, strengths and weaknesses.  Most of all enjoy it, as the person with disability will.



  1. More information about Julie McElroy, including a short biography, is available at

  2. Robert Bell – More information about Robert’s Outdoor remits

  3. NNAS
    National Navigation Award Scheme – learn navigation skills and gain confidence to get out and enjoy the countryside.

  4. Duke of Edinburgh Award
    The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (commonly abbreviated DofE), is an award given for completing a programme of activities that can be undertaken by anyone aged 14 to 24. DofE programmes take between 1 year and 4 years to complete, depending upon the route taken. All programmes must be completed by the participant’s 25th birthday. Around 275,000 participants are taking part in their DofE programme at any time in the United Kingdom.

2015 IPC World Swimming Championships

IPC2015_(1)Glasgow hosted the IPC World Swimming Championship this year, (13 – 19 July). More than 580 swimmers from nearly 70 countries converged in Glasgow to compete over seven days of competition at the Tollcross International Swimming Centre. It the Para-Swimmer’s one of the biggest qualification opportunities ahead of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

This was another fantastic opportunity for Glasgow to showcase Para-Sports at the elite level as the one year anniversary of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games approaches. Having been involved in the Para-Sports build-up towards Glasgow 2014, two years prior to the Commonwealth Games, staging the IPC World Swimming Championships was a catalyst for Glasgow to strengthen it reputation.

Glasgow also built on it formidable status as a host of international events, having hosted the 2013 Duel in the Pool and all six days of swimming at the Commonwealth Games.

Glasgow 2014 had accessibility, equality and inclusion as a core part of the Commonwealth Games function in relation to the Organising Committee. Tollcross underwent a major refurbishment in the lead up to Glasgow 2014 entwined with the sustainability and accessibility vision too. Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games has left a legacy, the culture change, perceptions change and a sustainable legacy of inclusion and accessibility within society.

The IPC 2015 World Championships we saw established Paralympians go head-to-head in some of the most compelling rivalries in para-sport.  It was exhilarating, captivating and new talent blossom as the popularity of the Paralympics continues following the impressive rise of Para-Sport coverage since London 2012.

I was incredibly fortunate to be a flag-bearer for Uzbekistan at the 2015 IPC World Swimming Championships’s Opening Ceremony. It was a pleasure to work closely with the IPC’s media team and the Media Operations manager.

Over the last eight days, having been involved with the IPC’s Media hub in Glasgow, it brought me a new and another chapter of emergence of where I am going next!

Record year for Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award holders in Scotland

A record 1,253 young people will receive their Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) Award this year over four ceremonies at the Palace of Holyroodhouse on the 2nd and 3rd of July.

HRH The Duke of Edinburgh will be in attendance on Thursday, 2nd July and HRH The Earl of Wessex will be in attendance on Friday, 3rd July.

Celebrities from the world of television, music, radio and sport will be joined by representatives from the Scottish Government to celebrate the achievements of these talented young people and present them with their Gold certificates. Presenters include Glasgow band Fatherson, comedian Des Clarke, Glasgow 2014 medallist Jennifer McIntosh and Acting Minister for Children and Young People Fiona McLeod MSP.

The young people have gone the extra mile, committing themselves to bettering themselves and their communities to achieve their Gold. Many, like 18 year old Sara Salloum, from Aberdeen, worked for over a year with additional support needs groups as part of their Volunteering section.

Sara said: “It was fantastic volunteering with the Saturday Fun Club at Hazelwood School for additional support needs children. As I volunteered at Hazlewood through Bronze and Gold DofE I built up a good relationship with some of the children I saw each week. They were all so sweet. It’s nice to just treat them like anyone else instead of branding them as their disability.

“It’s been really valuable to do my Gold Award. For the Skills section I did guitar and I’m going to the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester to study classical guitar and to do it as a career.”

Presenter Ms McLeod, Acting Minister for Children and Young People, said, “I am delighted to present the young people with their Gold Awards. The aspirations behind the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award programme fit well with key priorities for this Scottish Government, of participation, prosperity and fairness.

“Real participation means giving people opportunity to test themselves, to take responsibility, to make decisions, to solve issues for themselves and in their communities. These Awards clearly embody this approach and it’s one reason why we have been delighted to be able to support them. Not just because of the foundation role they play in enabling and encouraging young people’s participation but because their activity also plays a significant role in improving young people’s life chances and well-being. Well done to those receiving an award, and their families, for all their hard work and support.”

Presenter and Disabilities campaigner Julie McElroy, who herself is a Gold Award holder, said: “These young people have demonstrated the resilience and tenacity to work hard to achieve their Award. They should be extremely proud of what they have achieved as I firmly believe that the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award will serve them well and will aid them onto their next aspiration in life .The Award is a catalyst for the young people and will help them on their career path.

Barry Fisher, Director for DofE Scotland, said of the ceremonies:

“Each DofE Award is a personal development programme and all of the young people here have met their own personal goals in order to be here. With more and more young people achieving a Gold Award each year, it is a real tribute to the dedication and determination of Scotland’s young people.


Julie joins Scottish Institute for Enterprise (SIE) team for UWS

Julie McElroy has been appointed as an intern with Scottish Institute for Enterprise (SIE) at the University of the West of Scotland, (UWS) for the academic session of 2015/2016. Julie will join Angela Castellano in the role, as SIE seeks to expand its services to more students across the university’s campuses.

Julie is currently a final year PhD student based within the School of Computing and Engineering at the University of the West of Scotland, (UWS).  Julie from Glasgow, was born both profoundly deaf and with Cerebral Palsy, which affects the messages sent between the brain and the muscles, which affects her movements and coordination.  Angela is a second year undergraduate  studying  ‘Web and Mobile Development’ in the School of Computing and will be reprising her role having started with SIE in a voluntary Ambassador position last year before becoming an SIE intern in full.

Julie and Angela will begin start their Scottish Institute for Enterprise (SIE) appointment in August 2015 for seven months, later this year and will be stationed across campuses. They will work closely with university staff and students across the University of the West of Scotland and in particular the Enterprise and Innovation Research Centre along with fulfilling responsibilities associated with SIE out-with the University.

The Scottish Institute for Enterprise exists to help Scotland’s Higher Education students to develop an entrepreneurial mind-set and skill-set through encouragement and support structures designed to assist them in launching new for-profit and non-profit ventures. The SIE Intern Programme is one of the key ways this is achieved.

Julie and Angela’s remit with the Scottish Institute of Enterprise (SIE) will be to complement the current activities of the SIE team – working closely to support initiatives which stimulate entrepreneurship within the student population at their institution. The key requirement will be to support SIE activities and initiatives, but also to support locally based projects, for the benefit of the University of the West of Scotland.

The main goal of the SIE Intern is to use peer-to-peer communication to raise awareness of and engagement with entrepreneurship and enterprise through SIE and other programmes, events and services.

Speaking of this appointment, Julie says ‘I am delighted to be joining the Scottish Institute for Enterprise to promote entrepreneurial and innovation for the University of the West of Scotland. I am looking forward to engaging with the students and staff communities at the University to ensure they are aware of resources available to consider entrepreneurship. Working closely with Scottish Institute for Enterprise will ensure we can set-out together, across Higher Education achieving a collective-impact approach through unleashing the entrepreneurial spirits, wealth of knowledge, talent and creativity that will economically benefit our nation in the future.”

Kieran Smyth, Regional Intern Coordinator and Intern Trainer who recruited Julie as an Intern this year says “ It is really great to have Julie on board as part of the SIE team. She has an impressive knowledge of the entrepreneurial landscape and has so much to bring, not just to the role of intern at UWS but to the intern programme as a whole. I am sure that between her and Angela, we are on the verge of an explosion of entrepreneurial activity at UWS.”



Scottish Institute of Enterprise (SIE)

SIE is funded by the Scottish Funding Council and Scottish Enterprise to help students in Scotland develop enterprise skills, discover their entrepreneurial talent and start up their own ventures.

Julie McElroy
More information about Julie McElroy, including a short biography, is available at

University of the West of Scotland (UWS)
The University of the West of Scotland is a university operating from four campuses in south-western Scotland, in the towns of Paisley, Hamilton, Dumfries and Ayr. The present institution dates from August 2007, following the merger of the University of Paisley with Bell College, Hamilton.


Julie to complete the Bronze Level of NNAS

Julie McElroy is now back to take on a new personal challenge in the Outdoor circuit to complete her Bronze Level of the National Navigation Award Scheme, (NNAS).

The opportunity for Julie to complete the Bronze Level of the National Navigation Award Scheme, (NNAS) was given to her by Robert Bell. Robert will become Julie’s tutor and assessor of the Bronze Level.

Julie is delighted that Robert will lead her through the Bronze Level of the National Navigation Award Scheme, (NNAS).

Julie says “It is crucial that you find someone who understand your needs. Given that I am profoundly deaf, Robert will be doing a dual roles for me. It is important that the one-to-one programme is delivered for me as there is so much to take on in the outdoor and it is vital that the information is disseminated correctly to me in this pursuit if I am to tackle more outdoor ventures in the future. When I first met Robert at the Scotland’s Duke of Edinburgh Award’s engagement earlier this year, Robert developed a good communication strategy with me so it clicked from there”.

Robert lives in Edinburgh having previously served fifteen years in the Army (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders).  Since leaving, Robert has gone onto crave various careers and one them in the outdoor pursuits and is qualified in many areas of the outdoor with young people at the forefront of his fulfilment.

He is a qualified National Navigation Awards Scheme (NNAS) course provider and assessor. Also a qualified Summer Mountain Leader registered with Mountain Training Association and accredited Duke of Edinburgh Expedition Assessor up to Gold level.  He is also an adult instructor with the Army Cadet Force (ACF).

Robert first became involved in the National Navigation Award Scheme (NNAS) from his father who was a course provider at the time.

NNAS (National Navigation Award Scheme) registered providers offer training in skill development, and assessment to participants.  The scheme is not in itself a leadership qualification. It concerns personal performance and is non-competitive.  The various levels of the scheme lets everyone experience and demonstrate technical competence in navigation. Normally participants begin with the Bronze award and progress through the Silver and Gold awards, with a period of further experience and consolidation between.

Julie and Robert met at the Scotland’s Duke of Edinburgh Award’s Expedfest weekend earlier this year where Julie was there as an invited guest, in the role as a DofE ambassador (Scotland). The weekend was specifically held for Duke of Edinburgh Award’s leaders and assessors.

It was only recently that Robert and Julie met up to share Duke of Edinburgh Award’s experiences and Robert offered Julie the chance to complete the Bronze Level of the National Navigation Awards Scheme (NNAS).

Speaking of the opportunity to work with Julie, Robert says “Julie has a deep desire to try new challenges as and when they arise.  She pushes herself to achieve these challenges and in doing so, inspires others.  She has shown me that she has the determination to succeed and wishes to learn a new skill”.

Robert went to say “Julie is an amazing woman.  Over many years, Julie has put all her energy into completing new outdoor challenges and arena sports. From climbing Ben Nevis, to walking in the Andes.  Julie is and inspiration to all, not just within the disabled community but within the able bodied community too”.

Julie’s undertaking of the Bronze Level of the National Navigation Award Scheme, (NNAS) will be exceptional because of her personal circumstances and the adversity Julie has pushed in the outdoor pursuits in previous years.

Julie from Glasgow, was born both profoundly deaf and with Cerebral Palsy, which affects the messages sent between the brain and the muscles, which affects her movements and coordination.

Julie says “It a different challenge altogether as I have always wanted to do another award. Recently, I looked at outdoor qualifications but the prospect of doing some of these qualifications was challenging given changes in the complexity of my walking was hard to come by. When Robert suggested the possibility of doing the Bronze Level of the National Navigation Award Scheme, (NNAS), I realised it could be about to open new direction for me and it fantastic to have Robert help me unleash it”.

Robert too is looking forward to the journey ahead as he says “Everyday Julie faces some challenge in one way or the other that is a fact of life for her. The National Navigation Award Scheme (NNAS) will be no different. However, I believe that she has the confidence, manner, attitude, diligence and enthusiasm to succeed”.



  1. More information about Julie McElroy, including a short biography, is available at
  2. Robert Bell – More information about Robert’s Outdoor remits
  3. NNAS
    National Navigation Award Scheme– learn navigation skills and gain confidence to get out and enjoy the countryside.
  4. Duke of Edinburgh Award
    The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (commonly abbreviated DofE), is an award given for completing a programme of activities that can be undertaken by anyone aged 14 to 24. DofE programmes take between 1 year and 4 years to complete, depending upon the route taken. All programmes must be completed by the participant’s 25th birthday. Around 275,000 participants are taking part in their DofE programme at any time in the United Kingdom.

Taylor Bowls – It All About The Aces

Taylor Bowls recently kitted me out with new bowls as I am now able to play Bowls. A remarkable feat considering I only took up the sport since September last year.

This bowling journey has been a rollercoaster as it requires full co-ordination, precision and concentration from me to allotaybiaschartw me to find a standing position where I can bowl. However, with the positive and corrective guidance from Jim my coach, I am beginning to enjoy playing a game of Bowls. The momentum has been great as I can now go alone and play with others without becoming reliant on a coach.

Taylor Bowls has been extremely supportive in  my quest to develop as a Para-Bowler. With the outdoor season about to get underway, it was important that I find the right type of Bowls. With the help of Anne Dunwoodie, a Scottish Internationalist who has witnessed my ParaSports journey since we first met three years ago advised that I try out Ace Bowls. I fell in love with Ace Bowls, they felt so different when playing with them indoor.

IMG_0025Also in the last few months, I have invested in new Bowls shoes but the process wasn’t straightforward as due to my stamina, endurance and strong hyperextension knee associated with Cerebral Palsy. I now have to wear wedges in my shoes and the mechanism was to be applied in Bowling as it would help with my bowling delivery. I invested in the latest Henselite model as they were the only Bowls shoes that enabled me to wear my Ankle-Foot Orthosis otherwise known as a Splint.

Standing on the mat is still proving to be problematic at times due to my poor core stability, however the physios are looking into it and hope to provide me with some answers in the next few months which will hopefully satisfy my Coach and I.

The next challenge in this Para-Bowls journey will be moving to outdoor surface from April onwards. This will poised a real challenge as the Greens will be heavier. It will be another area for my Coach, Jim to get me bowling in outdoor conditions. I shall await the challenge ahead of me!

Happy New Year and Interview with Steve Glasson, Bowls Australia Coach

Happy New Year and hope it will be another successful year!

For Bowls throughout the World, we have to drive forward on the momentum from Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

I am certainly looking forward to my affiliation with Taylor Bowls this year and following in the footstep of Anne Dunwoodie. Our friendship has been solid since meeting three years ago and has put trust in my hand to take the next chapter forward.

Throughout the year, I will endeavour to cover Bowls in many ways and engage with many people along the way. First stop, the Scotland Para-Bowls elite squad are making final preparation to fly out to New Zealand for the IBC World Championship. Secondly, my personal bowling journey with my coach, Jim Irwin along with how Dumbarton BC has revitalised Para-Bowls. They certainly have many initiatives to cater for people with disabilities.

For the introduction to 2015, I have the privileged of introducing Steve Glasson the Head Coach for Bowls Australia.  I first met Steve two years ago when he came to Glasgow for the 8 Nations Championships at Kelvingrove. Steve and the rest of Bowls Australia squad has been following my movement on the Glasgow 2014 ParaSports journey and were keen to meet me. Since Anne initiated the introduction, Steve and I have remained in touch.

Steve fell in love with Bowls through the traditional way of family root. Firstly, Steve was a Cricketer and Rugby League Player however his father (Bob Glasson) was a good bowler in his own right and introduced him to this great sport. Steve says “I have always loved it and although when I first started, (about 10 years old) juniors were not easily invited to play so I use to go and watch dad play and pinch all the spare bowls from other players bowls bags and play on the banks of the greens. It was in my blood so to speak and I couldn’t get enough of it!”.

Steve also recalled his childhood memory that led to an extraordinary turnaround and would earmark his Bowls career, “When I was at school, I did a week of work experience at a local bank thinking I would like to have a career in the finance industry. On the Wednesday of that week, a man entered the bank armed with a shot gun and held us up. That was the end of my banking career so then went on to do a Green Keeping apprenticeship at a local bowling club”.

Since taking up Bowls competitively, Steve has carved out a distinguished career in Bowls as a player and as a coach. His very first title of substance was winning the Qld State Junior Singles Title.  Steve recalls how his father came to watch the first round and I remember him coming to me after the game and saying….. ‘Steve…. If you are going to win this, you will have to beat ‘that boy’ over there. That boy happened to be my first meeting with one of my best mates, Kelvin Kerkow. We have since been playing with and against each other for the last 30 years and have formed a fantastic friendship which includes being God Fathers to each other’s kids. I would have to say there are a couple of moments which stand out to me the most…..are my first Australian Title (Fours); winning the televised Jack Hi Singles Tournament; my first Australian cap and winning the World Singles.

As I first mentioned earlier on how I met Steve in Glasgow for the 8 Nations Bowls Championships in August 2013. Steve reflect upon that year before Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games as one of the most exciting aspects of this event was the inclusion of the disability teams. We had a vision impaired team and physical impairments Triples team competing. Both did extremely well and it was a joy to have them there. For me, it was my first time coaching with elite players in these categories and I really learnt so much. In the open divisions, our boys did extremely well with 2 Golds and 2 Silvers and the overall men’s title while our girls competed well but only managed a bronze but came away with a great deal of knowledge which helped them both in preparation and performance at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

2014-08-24 21.11.33When I met Steve during the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games it was one of the highlights alongside meeting Jim Irwin MBE. Reflecting on the success of Lawn Bowls for Bowls Australia and as a Australian Bowls Coach, Steve says “The village, the Opening ceremony, the bowls venue…. So picturesque! The hospitality of the local Scots, the weather,  the performance not only of the Aussies but of so many wonderful, world class bowlers. The Scottish men certainly showed their expertise on their local greens and South Africa again came and performed at a Commonwealth Games.

As for another of Julie’s stalkers (ooops….. I mean fans) is Anne Dunwoodie. Anne had promised to introduce us and ensured that happened on one of my pre Com Games Visits. I instantly became privy to why Anne (and others) think so much of Julie. With all that said, one of the highlights was catching up with a legendary friend…. the one and only Julie McElroy. You make my day when I see that constant glow/smile on your dial and you make me feel right at home. I don’t believe they could have had a better ambassador for the games and naturally I’m delighted to know you are now taking up this great game and enjoying it! Well it sure was for me!!!

From the very first time Anne Dunwoodie introduced us, I felt very honoured and absolutely delighted to meet such as incredible person. Julie’s very personable and bubbly character draws people to her. Her exuberance for everything she gets involved with is amazing and I don’t think I have ever seen her without her trademark glowing smile. The fact we had only met on a couple of occasions prior to the Commonwealth Games….. then to meet up again….. I felt like I was catching up with someone I have known for years and years. I am also delighted to remain in touch albeit we are on opposite sides of the world and this is to me, extremely special and I love knowing what Julie is doing in her life. For such a busy person, I know she would touch the hearts of many.

In four years time, the Commonwealth Games will be held in the Gold Coast, Australia and Steve believed there is no doubt Australia has an very hard act to follow in the footsteps of Glasgow. It will obviously be vastly different taking into account the situation (right on the beach) and the climate. From a bowling perspective, the greens should prove very nice and there will lots to do available for those competing and also those coming to enjoy the spectacle and the Games itself.

Finally, I myself know Taylor Bowls well and enjoyed a long association with them which I certainly believe was mutually beneficial. Julie is so keen and passionate about everything she does and whilst only new to bowls, certainly seems to be enjoying it. Julie would represent any business with professionalism, fun and enthusiasm. I’m very confident Julie and Taylor Bowls will enjoy and very long and thoroughly enjoyable unison together and make the most out of their time together.

Meet James Irwin – One of Scotland’s Glasgow 2014 Umpire

DSC_0034The connection remains from the moment you share a passion and a vision about Lawn Bowls.

I have had the pleasure of meeting James Irwin MBE after being introduced to him by Ron McArthur, a Silver ParaSports Lawn Bowls Medallist in the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at the UK Visually Impaired and Blind Championship at Kelvingrove in June this year. James was at Kelvingrove as an Umpire for the competition. A very important role to undertake to ensure the matches are carried out fairly and has the  responsible for presiding over the game from a neutral point of view and making on the spot decisions that enforce the Laws of Lawn  Bowls. It was only a few weeks before Glasgow 2014 would begin to get underway and I knew straight away, James Irwin MBE would become one of many stories I would endeavour to encapsulate on my ParaSports venture.

The Commonwealth Games was billed as the ‘friendliest Games’ in Glasgow and when I caught up with James at Dumbarton Bowling Club where he is a member,  he echoed the remarks further saying ‘it was down to the people of Glasgow who made it friendly’.

On an extraordinary sunny day in September, 2014, I was delighted to pay James a visit to his Dumbarton Bowling Club, near St Mary’s Way. It was an opportunity to find out more about James’s passion for Bowls and a dedicated gentlemen who has given so much the community, bowling community and the people he had coached in the area.

James has been playing bowls for thirty years taking up the sport in 1984 and twenty four years respectively for coaching bowls. He was also the founding member of the committee for the people of Dumbarton to have their own Indoors Bowls Centre. He recalls that his wife started playing bowls before him and lots of his friends began to take up the sport too. However, it was the words of wisdom of a neighbour, Kenneth Millian who encouraged James to take up bowls and hasn’t looked back since.

James has had a very successful story on and off the Bowling Green, he has been a member of Dumbarton Bowling Club for thirty years; he had been appointed as the Club’s President three times, 1991, 1996 and 2012. (In 1996, he served as President alongside his wife of Dumbarton Bowling Club.) The present President of the Club is Margaret Shield. It is currently unified. Margaret Shields has been previously the President of the Scottish Women Bowls Association. However, what makes Dumbarton Bowling Club universally different, Margaret Shields is the first Women President in 182 years of Dumbarton Club. James cited that is ‘quite an achievement’.

There was no doubts during my interview with James, I became engrossed with what he had to say when he recalled the moment the journey began, he wasn’t particularly brilliant at the games through practice and practice, he became a better bowler and soon began representing his club at competitions. It wasn’t long before he started winning titles. His list of titles speak for itself: Club Champion, Singles Champion, Fours Champion, Triples Champion and Twice in the Pairs Champion category. He used to coach the current Scottish Singles Champion Kevin Anderson.

An area that I was so looking forward to hearing from James was he his dedication, time and desire to coaching children, young adults in the community as I’ve yet to come into contact with another coach other than Ron McArthur who I have had great admiration for and display the same trustworthy, loyalty and understanding about disability.  James quickly whipped that this club had catered for people with disabilities and I happened to know a former member of the club who had a complex disability. I soon realised that there are clubs within the local communities, you just have go searching and hopefully you feel at eased with club.

As James mentioned earlier, he had been a coach for twenty four years and goes onto say that Bowls has become his passion now. He would sorely missed Bowls if he wasn’t playing. He conclude that in order for Bowls to survive in generations to come, the young boys and girls will be key to ensuring that Bowls grows and prosper.

When I first met James at Kelvingrove in June this year where he was an umpire. The role of an Umpire who can be seen in action at all lawn bowls events, from club and county events to national finals, international matches, Commonwealth Games and World Championships. Umpires are qualified through an intensive training and examination process, and the desire to commit time and dedication to the sport. James emphasised the word “considered” as you have to be “considered to be an Umpire at Lawn Bowls competition following an ITO (International Technical Official) exam which allows Umpires like James to hold an accreditation for up to five yearsdehlirs. James’s accreditation has nearly expired and has indicated to Tom Weir who oversee the Bowls Scotland’s Umpiring Committee that he would like to his renew his accreditation

It is clear from James’s passion, commitment, dedication and wealth of experiences have served him and not only confined to home soil, he has been incredibly fortunate to Umpire at the previous Commonwealth Games in Delhi four years ago. It was a magnificient experience, different culture and the people in India were so kind says James. James highlighted that Lawn Bowls is not a big sport in Delhi. The matches during the Commonwealth Games in Delhi were ‘streets away’. Scotland’s Lawn Bowls team suffered their worst performance and came home without a medal.

James has also followed Lawn Bowls closely, travelling to New Zealand to watch the World Lawn Bowls Championships. He said he was glad to travel and watch it as when you are umpiring at these Games, you don’t have the opportunity to explore the country as umpiring is a long day from being up at 6am and not finishing till 9pm.

Clyde-sider290714 (11)Our attention turned to Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. Like Jim, I was incredibly fortunate to have played a part in the Games. For me personally, I was in a unique position compared to most Clyde-sider volunteers that I had been engaged with the Bowls community from countless of people I have met along the way. Jim elaborated further that Glasgow 2014 in particularly at Kelvingrove, while it was low key, it was very atmospheric and he believed the people who were involved made it the friendliest Games.

During my shifts at Kelvingrove, Jim and I caught up on numerous occasions and we really appreciated each other involvements. I was assigned to the Print Distribution Team within Results Technology who were responsible for distributing the results to clients meanwhile James was umpiring matches. Catching up with James was a pinnacle highlight of my ParaSports, (Clyde-sider) journey during the Games.

Jim has been instrumental to the success of Bowls in his community of Dumbarton. He has impacted on many different lives already. James was awarded an MBE for his services to Allied Distiller and part of a community team which raised over £500, 000 for various causes.

After having been on the road for two years covering the ParaSports for Glasgow 2014 and the Glasgow Evening Times, Jim and I have partnered up as he wanted to relishes the challenge of coaching me with complex impairments associated with my Cerebral Palsy. Within eight weeks, Jim has transformed me into a bowler with his steer determination.

The next Taylor Bowls’s blog update will focus on Jim’s attribute to ‘get’ me bowling and what inspired him to do so.

Jim couldn’t have made it clearer “Bowls is a Game for life as long as you want to play it. Lawn Bowls is the most simple Games, come to this club”.