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. 





Interview with Sir Philip Craven

I recently had the opportunity to interview Sir Philip Craven who is the President of the International Paralympics Committee (IPC). He was in Glasgow for the 20th Commonwealth Games.

Sir Philip Craven has had a distinguished sporting career. He is five-time Paralympian having represented Great Britain in wheelchair basketball at all Paralympic Games from 1972-1988. Following his retirement from the sport, he moved into sports administration, first as chairman of the Great Britain Wheelchair Basketball Association and then founding President of the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation. Since 2001, he has been President of the International Paralympic Committee, the global governing body of the Paralympic Movement.

Glasgow 2014 celebrated with praised as it provided the biggest ever ParaSports programme. Sir Philip said he was delighted with how successful the Glasgow 2014 para-sport programme was. They had more events than ever before and the five ParaSports helped raise further the profile of the Paralympic Movement.

It has to be said, the Commonwealth Games is one of the few major sporting events where it is logical and possible to integrate para-sport. Integrating para-sport into the Commonwealth Games helps provide high level competition opportunities for many athletes from countries who normally would not get the chance to take part in such an event. By participating it helps raise the profile and develop the Paralympic Movement further in many Commonwealth countries.

It has been twelve years since ParaSports was first entrenched into the Commonwealth Games in Manchester 2002 and when looking back on it momentous journey, Sir Philip Craven has highlighted how the media coverage and crowd reaction to the para-sport events was achieved in Glasgow to see the value they bring to the Commonwealth Games. They featured high performance medal events featuring some of the world’s best athletes.

Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games was billed as the most accessible Games and it endeavour to make it an inclusive experience for all. Sir Philip Craven agreed as Glasgow did an excellent job in making the Games accessible and inclusive for all. He attended the opening ceremony and the first days of competition and found it a very pleasant and accommodating experience.

With Glasgow 2014 behind and many organisations who work with the Para-athletes slowly coming back after being on a high, the attention is now focussed on Rio 2016, PyeongChang 2018 and Tokyo 2020, it is vital that we get more athletes from more countries involved, continue to grow the global TV audience and have sold-out capacity crowds.
Sir Philip Craven believed by continuing to grow a global audience and encourage more para-athletes who will continue to inspire and excite the world, the Paralympic Games will act as a driver to changing attitudes and perceptions, making for a more inclusive society. He reckon in ten years time, the Paralympic Movement will continue to thrive and the Paralympic Games will continue to grow in size and stature.

DofE Scotland – Gold Awards Presentation

This year, I was asked to present the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Awards to over 30 young people in my group. It was a privileged to be asked to do so after a few years when I received my Gold Award at Holyrood Palace. It was well timed too as we mark twenty days to go till Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games with David Grevemberg, CEO of Glasgow 2014 joined the host of celebrities, Nina Nesbitt, Paul Brannigan, actor, Tony Singh, Chef, David Murdoch, Sochi 2014 Silver medallist in Curling, Chris Paterson, MBE, Scottish Rugby Union Ambassador and many others.

It was conferred that I was the youngest and only fellow Gold Award holder to be on hand to present the Awards to the youngsters this year.

These young people have demonstrated the resilience and tenacity to work hard to achieve their record of achievements during course of the Award. They should be extremely proud of what they have achieved as I firmly believed that the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme had serve them well and will aid them onto their next aspiration in life.

As a recipient of the Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award, I know how much the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme had taught me about myself. However, I would like to thanks Garry MacLeod (MBE) from the Glasgow City Council for being my mentor while I was doing mine on a solo capacity. Garry worked with me to maximise my potential in working towards my Duke of Edinburgh award. Without his support and guidance he had given throughout my award period, I may have never have experienced the self-confidence and self belief to enable me to go on pushing boundaries.
Thereafter, it was Ken Hames (https://www.dofe.org/en/content/cms/about-us/celebrity-support/) who saw my capability to succeed while coping with a disability which saddle a number of impairments associated with Cerebral Palsy and ever since he has inspired me to go on further.

Many, many Congratulations to this year’s recipients. They should go out and not yield, the Duke of Edinburgh Awards organisation has given them the attributes to take forward.

Julie Present the Gold Duke of Edinburgh Awards

Scotland’s young people get their Gold

436 young people from across Scotland will receive their Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) Award this year on Thursday, 3rd July 2014 in the presence of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.

Nina Nesbitt, Paul Brannigan, David Grevemberg, Des Clarke, David Murdoch and Julie McElroy are amongst the celebrity presenters who will be there to celebrate the achievements of the young people and present them with their certificates.

For a few of the presenters this is not their first experience with the DofE. Presenter and disabilities campaigner Julie McElroy is herself a Gold Award holder and 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 know that their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award will serve them well and help them on their career path.”

By wheelchair was one of the many ways that the Gold Award was completed this year. Innes Martin from Perth & Kinross Council has cerebral palsy and uses an electric wheelchair. He used an off-road electric bike to complete his expedition. Innes will be in his special chair when he is presented his Award by Scottish Rugby Union ambassador Chris Paterson.

This year also sees a record number of young people, 5, receiving their Gold Award from the tiny island of Sanday in Orkney which has less than 500 inhabitants. Rosemary and Martyn Newton, DofE Leaders for over 20 years, will be there to see them receive their certificates and be presented with their own Long Service Awards for their commitment to volunteering with the DofE.

Barry Fisher, Director for DofE Scotland, said of the event “It’s wonderful to see such a range of young people receiving their Gold Awards today. The DofE is achievable by all and I’m thrilled to see a full range of backgrounds represented here today, including participants with additional support needs and those from remote areas.

“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.

List of Presenters:
– Nina Nesbitt, singer
– Paul Brannigan, actor
– David Grevemberg, Glasgow 2014 CEO
– Tony Singh, Chef
– David Murdoch, Sochi 2014 Silver medallist in Curling
– Chris Paterson, MBE, Scottish Rugby Union Ambassador
– Kevin Guthrie, actor
– Des Clarke, comedian and radio presenter
– Victoria Crowe, OBE, FRSE, RSA, portrait artist
– Julie McElroy, Disabilities campaigner
– Keith Anderson, ScottishPower Chief Corporate Officer
– Steve Montgomery, ScotRail Managing Director
– Sue Walker, Scottish Chief Commissioner, Girlguiding


Further information about the DofE:
• The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award was founded in 1956 by its Patron HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. HRH The Earl of Wessex is a Trustee.
• Over 42,000 young people are currently taking part in DofE programmes in Scotland at 960 DofE Centres, supported by over 3,500 adult volunteers from all walks of life.
• Last year, 20,794 new young people started a DofE programme in Scotland and 9,923 Awards were achieved.
• In total, over 5 million people have participated in DofE programmes and achieved over 2 million Awards in the UK since 1956.
• Through the volunteering part of their programme, young people give their free time to society with a value of over £24 million per year and volunteers contribute over £17 million per year. That’s over £41 million put back into society!
• A survey with major employers, commissioned by the United Learning Trust, found that a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is the most highly valued experience when selecting employees.
• There are over 900,000 young people participating worldwide globally in over 140 countries and territories.
• Since 1956, over 8 million people have taken part across the world, highlighting how the DofE can truly transcend boundaries of race, language, ethnicity and culture.
• The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is a Registered Charity No 1072490 and in Scotland
• No SC038254 and a Royal Charter Corporation RC000806.
• Further information can be found at http://www.DofE.org
• More about the DofE
The DofE Charity
Youth charity The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award supports over 300,000 people aged 14-24 every year. Our ethos is to enable every young person of every background to take part in our programmes and succeed, regardless of any barriers. We help instil a sense of adventure and have a lasting impact on young people’s behaviour, skills and life chances.
Our mission
To inspire, guide and support young people in their self-development and recognise
their achievements.
DofE programmes
Anyone aged between 14 and 24 can do a programme at one of the three progressive levels which, when successfully completed, lead to a Bronze, Silver or Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. There are four sections at Bronze and Silver level and five at Gold.
– Volunteering: undertaking service to individuals or the community.
– Physical: improving in an area of sport, dance or fitness activities.
– Skills: developing practical and social skills and personal interests.
– Expedition: planning, training for and completion of an adventurous journey in the UK
or abroad.
– At Gold level, participants must do an additional fifth Residential section, which involves staying and working away from home doing shared activity.
Achieving a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award
Young people will achieve a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award if they show persistence, commitment and personal development over a period of time. Every activity must be successfully completed and assessed. The result is the world’s leading achievement award for young people, recognised by employers and universities alike.
Where it is run

DofE programmes are delivered under licence by over 700 partners (Licensed Organisations) who offer it in 11,500 DofE groups run in centres such as youth clubs, voluntary organisations, schools, academies, colleges, universities, young offender institutions and businesses, which are run and supported by over 48,000 adult volunteers.

Host City Volunteers Orientation Event

An army of 1,500 volunteers is being recruited to provide the warmest of welcomes to visitors to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. The Host City Volunteers will bring passion and pride to Glasgow’s streets, as they help visitors to navigate around the city at Games-time, providing information on the sports programme, Live Zones, and the many cultural activities the city will have on offer.

The volunteer programme is part of Host City Glasgow – a 3-year project, led by Glasgow Life to help enhance the potential impact of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games on civic pride, volunteering legacy, and communities in the host city. The £1.7million project has just been awarded £632,000 by the Big Lottery Fund, with other funding and support provided by Glasgow City Council and Glasgow Life. As the host city, Glasgow is looking to maximise opportunities for local people to feel connected with, and play an active part in, delivery of the Games. The project will offer exciting opportunities to do just that, while welcoming visitors, and showcasing the city.

The Host City Volunteer programme will target communities and groups that may have previously encountered barriers which prevented their involvement in volunteering. The volunteers, who will all live, work or study in the city, will receive training and support before, during and after the Games, with the hope that many will use the opportunity as a springboard to further enhance their own lives or those of their local communities.

The Host City Volunteers Orientation Event took place in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Wednesday 21st May. The orientation was to tell the Host City Volunteers all about the role they will play during Games time and what a typical day as a HCV will involve. They were also told about the Festival 2014 Live Zones and where they might be based. It was also be a great opportunity to talk to the team and ask any questions they have about their role. The 1,300 Host City Volunteers who have already signed up will get their picture taken for their accreditation and will get their official uniforms to take away with them.

The special guests at the orientation including Julie McElroy – who is an ambassador for paralympic sports, as well as a dedicated disability campaigner. TV presenter Carol Smillie was presenting the night and East 40 will be making an appearance. East 40 is a band made up of schoolchildren from Glasgow’s East End and it takes its name from the postcode of the schools and the number of band members. Along with Glasgow singer-songwriter Jonathan Carr, who co-wrote the single, as well as with some help from members of The Vaccines, Franz Ferdinand and Frightened Rabbit, they have released a charity single in aid of UNICEF and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games which has already caught the imagination of hundreds of pupils in the city with its inspiring message.

Julie Lends Support to Host City Volunteers Programme

Julie is delighted to be lending a hand to the Host City Volunteers Programme. She says “I am a Glasgow girl at heart! I am lending my support to the Host City Volunteers Programme where everyone can be united to help bring and welcome our Commonwealth Nations and the World to Scotland.

A person is a person, regardless of my disability, I wanted to give something back to a city that has richly enhanced me. It is now your time to volunteer”.

Julie was recruited by Mark O’Neill, Director of Policy & Research, Glasgow Life. Mark says “Julie’s energy and passion for living life to the full is inspirational. Given that we can’t bottle it and distribute it to Host City Volunteers, the only other option was for them to see Julie in person!”.

The volunteer programme is part of Host City Glasgow – a 3-year project led by Glasgow Life to help enhance the potential impact of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games on civic pride, volunteering legacy and communities in the host city. The £1.7million project has just been awarded £632,000 by the Big Lottery Fund, with other funding and support provided by Glasgow City Council and Glasgow Life.

Julie Present the Saltire Awards

Knightwood Secondary School invited Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Assistant Chief Officer Lewis Ramsay and I to present the Saltire Awards to 334 pupils at this year’s Awards ceremony. The Saltire Awards is now in its second year for Knightwood Secondary. Last year, 180 pupils achieved their Saltire Award.

The Saltire Awards started off by Rt First Minister Alex Salmond as the Millennium Awards. Soon after it was renamed as the Saltire Awards to acknowledge the recognition of the dedication and contribution of young people volunteering in Scotland. There are six categories of voluntary hours, the young people can do, 10, 25, 50, 100, 200 and 500.

Assistant Chief Officer Lewis Ramsay has had an interesting career in the Fire Service. Recently played an instrumental role in the Clutha Helicopter Crash and has been involved in the Evening Times’ Community Champion Awards previously.

It was a humbling day to witnessed the achievements of these young people today. Congratulations to them all on their awards and their well-deserved hard work.

Motion S4M-09776: Bill Kidd, Glasgow Anniesland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 22/04/2014
Saltire Awards at Knightswood Secondary School
That the Parliament recognises the upcoming Knightswood Secondary School Saltire Award Ceremony on 25 April 2014; understands that the ceremony celebrates the volunteer work performed by pupils of Knightswood Secondary School; congratulates and commends the over 300 Knightswood pupils who performed anywhere from 10 to 200 hours of volunteer service, and acknowledges the ceremony’s speakers, Julie McElroy and Assistant Chief Officer Lewis Ramsay, for serving as positive role models in philanthropy for the Knightswood pupils.

Game Changer Award 2014


Universities Scotland and Colleges Scotland teamed up together to host a one-off award ceremony that recognises and celebrates the many contributions that staff and students in Scotland’s further and higher education sectors are making to ensure that Glasgow 2014 is a fantastic success and will deliver an enduring legacy for Scotland’s people.

The unique event took place on Thursday 3 April 2014, at the Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow.

It attracted more than 110 entries from staff and students from colleges and universities across Scotland with a total of 21 institutions producing winning entries. Guests included, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Michael Russell, Glasgow 2014’s Chief Executive David Grevemberg, former First Minister Rt Hon Henry McLeish and Glasgow 2014 mascot, Clyde.

gamechangerOur one was a finalist in the Research Impact Contribution alongside entries from University of Glasgow, as well as a collaboration between the Universities of Stirling, Dundee and Glasgow. This award category recognised the impact of research relevant to the Glasgow 2014 Games, its legacy goals and or to the enhancement of sport or understanding of the Commonwealth in Scotland.

I was thrilled to be part of the winning University of the West of Scotland Research team at the Game Changer Awards. It still hasn’t sunk in that my team has a GOLD award!

Photo Credit: Game Changer Awards 2014 – Universities Scotland and Colleges Scotland.
Game changers awards Glasgow Fruitmarket 02/4/14 Pics-Geo Wright +44007889 736462 geo@wrightmedia.co.uk