Diversity and Disability

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”.

IBD Championship 2015

Five months since the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, the Scottish Para-Lawn Bowls team continues to go from strength to strength.

I went to Falkirk Indoor BC to see the development and elite squads in training. It was also to find out more about those who have been selected for the IBD, (International Bowls for the Disabled) Championship 2015 which is being held in New Zealand from (16 – 27 February 2015).

The list is below, players are:
Billy Allan (Cowdenbeath); Gary Clelland (Linlithgow); Martin Hunter (Burntisland); Michael Simpson (Auchtermuchty); Garry Brown (Kirkmuirhill); John Hughes (Stewarton); Rosemary Lenton (Dumfries); Barbara MacMillan (Cowdenbeath); Irene Edgar (Saltcoats); Billy Edgar (Saltcoats); Maria Spencer (Dunfermline) and Harry Harris (Larbert)

Staff supporting the players:
Bob Dick – Head Coach, Ron McArthur – Assistant Head Coach/Director, Celia Smith – Assistant Coach, Eric MacMillan – Assistant Coach, David Thomas – Director, Grace Whitton – Director, Sarah Jane Ewing – Director.

They have appointed a Team Manager who will accompany the team. Liz Mendl has been confirmed as their manager. She has an impressive track records as previously appointed as the Head of Medical Services for Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and comes from a physio background. Her valuable expertise will be instrumental to them.

One of the coaches selected to accompany the Scottish Para-Bowls team to New Zealand is Ron McArthur who is a Director and Silver Medallist at this year’s Commonwealth Games. He was a Director for the Visually Impaired player, Robert Conway. Ron told me more about the IBD Championship in New Zealand.

The International Bowls for the Disabled, (IBD) originated from the family of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) which is one of the largest sporting organisations in the World and the main international body governing sport for athletes with a disability.

Para-Bowls was formerly on the programme of the Paralympic Games. However, Bowls was excluded from the Paralympic Games in 1996. Two reasons contributed to the outcome, they had insufficient nations participating in the sport and Bowls was not feature on the calendar of Summer Olympic Games. While Para-Bowls has been included in Sporting events, i.e. Manchester Commonwealth Games in 2002, bowlers with disabilities have been excluded from major competitions.

The Scottish Para-Bowls squad and the coaches couldn’t begin the selection process for the players to be completing in the IBD Championship 2015 until after the Commonwealth Games. This has left them with a tight turnaround.

The IBD Championship in New Zealand will be challenging and the Scottish team will have to match the standard of 2011 performance of when they were second place in the World. South Africa are currently considered the best in the World.
Those who have been selected, haven’t been to New Zealand before and all efforts will on coaches to ensure that the players are settled and prepared for the competitions. These competitions will be highly competitive as players will be completing in Singles and Pairs competitions.

We look forward to hearing how the Scottish Para-Lawn Bowls team progress in the IBD Championship 2015.

In 2015, I will start to explore the women inequality in bowls and in particular among women with disabilities; coaching people with disabilities in bowls and having a level playing field for those bowlers who have a disabilities and have to financial funds themselves to play for their countries. These are some of the issues I will explore and address in the New Year.
In meantime, I look forward to introducing James, (Jim) Irwin, my coach in my next instalment. Thanks to a coach who transformed me into bowler.

Taylor Bowls

Taylor Bowls Partnership

I am delighted to be partnering up with Taylor Bowl, the manufacturers of bowls to energized the
mSONY DSComentum to propel Para-Lawn Bowls here in Scotland and around the World and look forward to equally sharing my Lawn Bowls journey with you all. I am delighted with this appointment and look forward to the vision ahead.

It was two years ago when I started to explore the five Para-Sports that would be integrated into the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. The five were Lawn Bowls, Swimming, Cycling and Power-Lifting.

One of my first Para-Sport that I was sent out to try on behalf of Glasgow Evening Times and Glasgow 2014 was Lawn Bowls. I remembered that day visibly when I met Ron McArthur who was a Director for one of the Visually Impaired player at the Commonwealth Games, Robert Conway; Anne Dunwoodie who is a Scottish Internationalist and works for Taylor Bowls and Garry Brown is a Scottish Para-Bowler.

During the last two years, I have remained in contacts with many of the people I have met along the way on this ParaSports journey and in particular, Anne Dunwoodie who kept me abreast and involved in some of the Bowls events that took place in the build-up to the Commonwealth Games.

However, following the success of Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this summer, I knew the momentum has to continue in some capacity. I began to explore what sport I would start to galvanized first and it was no surprise, Lawn Bowls was on the card.

Two years ago, when I tried Lawn Bowls I particularly found it difficult because the nature of my Cerebral Palsy affect my co-ordination, balance and manual dexterity so this was going to be a challenge to take on in any capacity. The second issue I was up against, finding a coach within my local area who would teach me how to play bowls. There are 500 coaches in Scotland but very few have experience of coaching people with disabilities.

While taking time out to recover from the Commonwealth Games, I kept in touch with James Irwin. I was incredibly fortunate to meet James who was an Umpire at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. James, (Jim) is also a Bowls Coach and he talked me into taking up Bowls. Jim was inspired by Robert Love who is an English Para-Bowler and wanted to relish the opportunity of coaching myself.

Reflecting back on that sunny day in September when I met with Jim to capture his bowls story, it was also about to open the next chapter of my Para-Sports journey. I gave Jim the opportunity to coach me how to play bowls. It was no mean feat when my physical disability is complex however eight weeks into the journey, Jim finally got me bowling within a remarkable timescale. It has been down to the utter determination and analysis Jim carried out with me. Therefore, I look forward to introducing Jim in many of my future blog’s entries.

More importantly, I realize that there is a sport for everyone in the community and regardless of your disability, sports has the power to adapt witSONY DSCh your needs. This was very evident when my partnership was initiated with Jim.

Within an incredible turnaround when I was introduced to Bowls two years ago in the build-up to Glasgow 2014, I couldn’t have foreseen I would go on to have partnership with Taylor Bowls. I relish the challenge that awaits me as I set out to cover Para-Bowls alongside helming my bowling journey with the presence of Taylor Bowls.

Thank you for reading and look forward to sharing the journey with you.

TS-Sport – Scottish Indoor Bowls Development

It was privileged to cover Para-Lawn Bowls at the Scottish Indoor Bowls Development day on Saturday 27th September for TS-Sport as my contract creases at the end of September 2014.

It was only two month ago since I introduced Ryan MacDonald, Project Leader of Trendspotters who manages TS-Sport to Ron McArthur who is Assistant Head Coach for SDS and former national coach for the Visually Impaired and Blind Bowlers. Ron is probably better known for his success at this year’s XX Commonwealth Games, (Glasgow 2014). He was one of the Director for one of the Visually Impaired Bowler, Robert Conway at this year’s Commonwealth Games and they scooped Silver. Ron says speaking of his recent success “Without doubt, being a Commonwealth Games Silver Medallist.  Just shows nothing is impossible in life. Who could argue with that?  Satisfying result after years of working to improve the standard of VI bowling, However, I believe we could have done better and there is still a long way to go. It was a great honour to be selected to represent my country in such a prestigious event, especially in front of a home crowd.   I hope that Para Bowls will now become an established part of the Commonwealth Games”.

With Glasgow 2014 demonstrating the inclusivity at the heart of the Commonwealth Games, TS-Sport explored Para-Bowls in the series of Come and Try sessions to encourage people with disabilities to become involved in sports. Ryan says “as it received a lot of publicity during Glasgow 2014 so it made sense and thanks to Julie McElroy who was able to initiate the connection for us”.

Ron informed us when we met him in August this year, there would be a SIBA (Scottish Indoor Bowls Association) development week culminating in a demonstration of Bowling at the West of Scotland IBC. On Saturday 27th September, this was the line-up:
10am to 12.30pm
Green 1: Scottish Under 18 Squad vs Challenge Squad
Green 2: Demonstration of Scottish Disability Bowls

12.30pm to 2pm
Green 1: Celebrity Pro-Am Event
Green 2: Come and Try event

2pm to 6pm
Green 1: Scottish Gents League Select vs West Lothian
Green 2: Scottish Ladies League Select vs Auchinleck

Julie went along to cover this event for TS-Sport and caught up with Ron. On meeting Ron, he is regarded as a perfect gentlemen and is considered as the key person if you wish to take up bowls recreationally or competitively. Ron has over thirty years of bowling experience and he prefer to coach these days. It was his wife that was instrumental to introducing Bowls to him and since then Ron has impart it onto other through various pathways.

Over the years, Ron developed his bowling interests and soon found a niche. He is now committed and heavily involved in the Scottish Blinds and Visually Impaired Bowls. He says “I was asked to become an Umpire at the7th IBBA, (International Blind Bowls Association) World Championships, Girvan 2001.  The then Secretary Dora Crudge asked if I would become part of a team to draw up a new training Manual for SABB, (Scottish Association of Blind Bowls).  The Manual became part of the Scottish Bowls Coaching Manual in 2003. It was never part of the assessment to become a coach and to date is still the case.  In 2005, I was asked by SABB to produced a training program for Directors/Bowlers Assistants.  In 2007 I was asked to become the 1st National Coach, a position I held until I stepped down in early 2014.

It is clear that through Ron’s hard work, dedication and persistence has led him to become well respected by those who work alongside, the visually impaired bowlers can confide in him for guidance and objectivity. For the last seven years, Ron was the 1st National Coach and through this pathway, he was considered as a Director for a Scottish Blinds and Visually Impaired Bowler. A Director for Visually Impaired Bowler, their role is to ensure that the Visually Impaired Bowlers knows where to aim to i.e. the jack. Ron elaborating on his coaching involvement, says “As part of my duties as National Coach, I tried to move away from family/friends acting as Directors.  I wanted a more professional approach and introduced trained coaches.  I undertook to work with Eleanor Clark (B2) and proved the advantage of front coaching, I successfully directed Eleanor to UK singles champion in 2009. I have worked with various players since then.  Front directing is a contentious issue within SABB.  I have tried to demonstrate the advantages and how it is used very successfully in the rest of the World; however, there is strong resistance to it in Scotland and I have come against severe opposition”.

I went along to the West of Scotland Indoor Bowling Centre which is near Shawfield Greyhound Stadium, Rutherglen to see the Scottish Indoor Bowls Development and I was equally impressed with the venue. It was a warm and welcoming environment.  The fact that we play on a surface made of carpet, makes it an ideal training and playing surface. Carpet is a far easier medium to deliver a bowl than grass bowls.

We were also treated to a celebrity match by Anne Dunwoodie, Scottish Bowls Internationalist; Lindceleb_bowl_playersa Brennan who is also a former Scottish Bowls Internationalist and played in the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne; Johnathan Ross, a Northern Ireland Bowler who now represent Scotland and the man of the Match was Darren Burnett who was a Gold Medallist at this year’s Commonwealth Games. He won the Men Single’s at Glasgow 2014 helping Scotland’s Gold Medal Tally.

Ron emphasised that the day was an opportunity to become part of a sport that caters for all generations. A sport that is playable by most Physically Disabled, Visually Impaired, Learning Difficulties and mainstream bowlers. A genuine family sport, regardless of age and disability.  The real beauty of the sport, a gentle exercise, sport that can be played at any level and at your own pace. You decide whether you want to play purely for fun, or get competitive.  The competitive level will depend ability.

There was a range of people with disabilities who already play bowls were on stand-by to give a demonstration on of disability bowls and it became apparent that the sport speaks for itself. This is a sport that can be played by any age group.  It is a gentle exercise sport that can be played by most people. Each person can decide how far they want to progress in the sport, it can be for purely pleasure.  Anyone competitively minded can take it to the highest level. Bowls is an all-inclusive and very social sport.To take up bowls and the same could applied for all sports in order to advance, require commitment, perseverance and precision with bowls. Generally, the ability to hold a bowl, if you can do that, we should be able to help you play bowls. Ron reiterate that “Bowls is a simple game complicated by people. The purpose of bowls is enjoyment.  The object is to win. The better you do something, the more you enjoy it. Our job is to help people achieve their best possible level of attainment”.

It was also highlighted that there are a range of aids can be used by a disabled bowler. It could be, specially adapted wheelchairs, walking sticks,bowls and jack lifting aids.  It also could be, no additional equipment would be needed.  In the 1st instance, anyone interested, should just turn up and try.  Once a player decides to take the game up with any degree of competiveness, they can see if any additional aids could benefit their game.
Currently there is a big push to recruit new Para-Bowlers who either have a visually impairment or physical impairment to take up the sport. If you are interested, there are loads of contabe followed up.ct points. Local Clubs, Scottish Disability Sports, Bowls Scotland, Scottish Indoor Bowling Association, Scottish Association of Blind Bowls and local sports councils. If considering the competitive edge of bowls, the (Physical Disability) PD’s  are directed to either Scottish Disability Bowls or Bowls Scotland, the (Visually Impaired) VI’s to Scottish Association of Blind Bowls  and depending on where they live will depend on if it can

It has been nearly two months since Glasgow 2014 and everything is being done to capitalise on the success of the XX Commonwealth Games. Ron believed that the Games helped make people aware, that being disabled does not mean being excluded. The fact that we were fully integrated with the mainstream showed, we were there on merit and equal standing. We have to keep that uppermost in people’s minds.  However, when it comes to ensuring that people with disabilities continue to be inspired by London 2012 and Glasgow 2014, Ron conceded that this will only have any value if there is a concerted effort to get people along to the sports and supplement it with follow up sessions. Anything we can do to make the sport easier, accessible and more enjoyable can only be to the good.

TS-Sport has so far explored Angling and Para-Bowls. Ryan believed that it is going very well, we have created some good links with groups that provide activities and are continuing this work. We also know we have introduced people into new sports that they are continuing to participate in.  We are currently in talks with a water sports provider and also a wheelchair basketball group about providing taster sessions over the next couple of months.