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”.

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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.

ENDS

NOTES

  1. More information about Julie McElroy, including a short biography, is available at http://www.juliemcelroy.com/

  2. Robert Bell – More information about Robert’s Outdoor remits
    http://www.pentlandoutdoornavigation.com/

  3. NNAS
    National Navigation Award Scheme – learn navigation skills and gain confidence to get out and enjoy the countryside.
    Website:
    http://www.nnas.org.uk/

  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.
    Website:
    http://www.dofe.org/

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.

-Ends-

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.”

ENDS

NOTES FOR THE EDITOR

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.
http://www.sie.ac.uk/

Julie McElroy
More information about Julie McElroy, including a short biography, is available at http://www.juliemcelroy.com/

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.
http://www.uws.ac.uk/home/


 

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”.

ENDS 

NOTES

  1. More information about Julie McElroy, including a short biography, is available at http://www.juliemcelroy.com/
  2. Robert Bell – More information about Robert’s Outdoor remits
    http://www.pentlandoutdoornavigation.com/
  3. NNAS
    National Navigation Award Scheme– learn navigation skills and gain confidence to get out and enjoy the countryside.
    Website:
    http://www.nnas.org.uk/
  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.
    Website:
    http://www.dofe.org/

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.

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 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.

Evening Times’s ParaCommonwealth Reflection

It is hard to believe that it was two years ago when this ParaSports journey began, thanks to the editorial team at the Evening Times. They approached me and left me to lead it with guidance of my acquaintances, Matty Sutton, Simon Buckland, Gavin Sturgeon, Stacey Mullen, Helen Smith and more frequently my new co-pilot, Rachel Loxton.

Over the past two years, it is hard to look back on what I have accomplished on this journey for the Glasgow Evening Times, championing awareness of ParaSports as part of the Glasgow 2014 movement and embedding ‘Evening Times’ outcomes along with personal outcomes too.

TeamScotland_Parade150814 (4)The whole ethos of ‘leadership’ challenged and pushed me beyond my capabilities to produce the quality to a high professional standards. Given time, I quickly grew and acclimatised to the new vision of realisation of a different kind of leadership. I was able to take on three ‘jobs’. One, writing for the Evening Times, secondly, assigned tasks by Glasgow 2014 and thirdly, manned my PhD and my ParaSports Research Fellow post too.

During the last two years, I was incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with Matty Sutton, (reporter for the Evening Times). She has chartered my journey since I came back from India 2011 and then unknown to both of us, we were on this ParaSports journey. Matty was there throughout my journey of trying out all the ParaSports which were cherished with fun, laughter and tears. 

When my fortnightly column was published routinely, I was placed under the watchful eye of Helen Smith, (News Editor for the Evening Times). Through her guidance, I mastered my own journalism style. (A far cry for a girl like me who left Special Needs education with very few qualifications and here I am ten years later writing articles.) More latterly, Rachel Loxton, (reporter for the Evening Times) took over from Matty to become my co-pilot in highlighting ParaSports stories. We had gelled well and that a bonus as teamwork is paramount in an editorial team.

Working with Glasgow 2014 was incredible and to witnessed the mobilisation of a huge workforce was tremendous. To work with Simon Buckland and Gavin Sturgeon was a privileged as they were involved in the front line of media stories.

Through the wave of engagements, I have engaged with so many interesting people within the whole 2014 adventure, looking at media, culture and sports. This had involved me going out to meet various people in different environments. These experiences, had undoubtedly stand me in good stead for the future.

Thankyou also to David Grevemberg, CEO of Glasgow 2014 for being part of the journey too and demonstrating what can be achieved with the power of championing ParaSports.

Also, thanks to Professor Gayle McPherson of the University of the West of Scotland for letting me be part of an international research team with Dr. Laura Misener,  Professor David Legg,  Professor David McGillivray and Kyle Rich, PhD student, to investigate the first comparative study of the social legacy of major sporting events, examining the impact of parasport being integrated into a mainstream sporting event before, during and after the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Finally, thankyou for the Evening Times for an amazing two years, you’ve tested me on my leadership and I have reap the benefits.  There is no doubts this journey will signalled a new chapter after the ParaSports quest finishes.