1. During the past season (2014-2015) the Development Group has built on the successful base which the Group established in its initial season of 2013/2014. Advances were made on various fronts and I would like to think that we had a positive and constructive season, with some notable successes. As I mentioned in my report last year, the success of the Development Group has been largely attributable to the members on the Group, their individual input, the way the team has worked closely and constructively together, and the support we have had from the Board, the Committee and all the curlers at ACC.
In no particular order I would highlight the following items from season 2014-2015 ;
2. Relations with the Royal Caledonian Curling Club. I believe that we have made significant steps over the past two years in forging an ever strengthening relationship between ACC and the RCCC. We have built up an excellent relationship with Judith McCleary, (the RCCC’s Head of Development), Sheila Swan, (who now has a new post as Wheelchair Curling Head Coach); Bruce Crawford (the RCCC Chief Executive); and the recently appointed Giles Lomax (the RCCC’s Coaching and Workforce Development Manager). Kirsty has already developed a strong relationship with Giles which can only be of benefit to ACC and the RCCC. I believe that the officers of the RCCC now appreciate more fully, and are responding to, the practical needs of ACC in matters such as the promotion of Try Curling, the provision of Coaching Masterclasses, etc. Giles has already improved matters in this respect.
I would also credit Andrew Kerr for his role in developing the Club’s relationship with the RCCC through his role as Area Rep. Andrew will continue to play a significant role in this regard.
And in the coming season we of course have our own Billy Howat as President of the RCCC. This is a great honour not only for Billy but also ACC and Ayr Ice Rink, and the Development Group will be fully behind Billy in his year in office.
3. RCCC/ACC Annual Development Plan2014-2015. I am pleased to say that the vast majority of the targets in the Development Plan agreed between the RCCC and the Development Group for 2014-2015 were achieved. By meeting the targets set for the Club we obtained funding from the RCCC to the extent of £2200 And we already have an agreed Development Plan in place for the coming season with a financial incentive in excess of £2,700 if all the targets are met.
4. Affiliation. One of the targets in the Development Plan for season 2014-2105 was to increase both the number of Clubs affiliated to the RCCC but also the number of individual members from Ayr Ice Rink who are affiliated. The targets were to increase the number of affiliated Clubs from 24 to 25 and the number of individual affiliated curlers from 464 to 500. A payment of £1,000 from the RCCC was the financial incentive for achieving these targets. As part of the Development Group’s efforts to achieve these targets a detailed paper was issued to all the individual Clubs at Ayr Ice Rink in advance of their agm’s. That paper explained the roles of RCCC and the benefits of affiliation, and asked those unaffiliated Clubs and individual curlers to become affiliated.
The RCCC appreciated the difficult task we faced in relation to individual members but recognised that positive efforts were being made to achieve the targets. As such, they extended the period for achieving the targets from the end of the 2014-2015 season to this October. A payment of £500 form the overall £1,000 at stake was also made in recognition of the efforts which had been made – and were ongoing - to achieve the target.
I am pleased to say that there has been a very positive response to the attempt to increase the level of affiliation. A total of 5/6? Clubs agreed at their AGM’s to become affiliated – this is excellent news and a development which has been greatly welcomed by the RCCC. The current task is to ensure that we achieve the required increase in individual curler affiliation. In conjunction with Andrew Kerr we will be working on this over the coming weeks. A further payment of £500 from the RCCC is the reward if we are successful.
To put the affiliation issue in context, the RCCC is itself under great pressure from its national funding bodies to increase the number of people curling across Scotland, and to increase the number of affiliated members nationwide. The RCCC has been set a seriously challenging target of 5,000 new affiliated curlers over the next five years. This is the context for the RCCC pushing Ayr to increase the level of affiliation from Ayr Ice RInk. And for the coming season 2015-2016 our target is to further increase the number of affiliated members to 525 with another £1,000 at stake if this is achieved. So all hands to the deck please – we need everyone’s help if we are to achieve these affiliation targets.
5. Finance : our treasurer Susan Middleton has done a marvellous job coordinating all our financial affairs. In addition to overseeing the income and expenditure involved in the various coaching and schools curling events, she successfully closed off the Lottery account with the Lottery Fund. To remind everyone, that involved a grant of £1930 from the Lottery Fund which the Development Group had to match in terms of funding. In March, Susan got a letter from the Lottery Fund confirming that they were satisfied that we had met all their requirements and that their file on ACC was now closed. Susan continues to do a marvellous job on the Development Group and we are indebted to her for keeping us on the straight and narrow.
6. Coaching and Skills Development. : I would confidently say that we had a very successful season on the coaching front under the first class leadership and guidance of Kirsty Letton. Kirsty successfully expanded the schools programme and further developed our links with the officials within SAC responsible for leisure activities which can only help with the development of the schools programme. It was also pleasing to see that several of the pupils who attended the schools programme became members of the Juniors at ACC. Given the numbers attending the Schools Curling programme we could really do with someone to assist the coaching team on the admin front on the schools programme.
Kirsty also oversaw the further development of our coaching team at Ayr Ice Rink and the acquisition of additional coaching equipment. Everyone who has had coaching sessions with the lasers has commented on what a benefit they are.
We will be building on the success of our coaching team in the coming season, with Kirsty having already enrolled potential new Level 1 coaches and potential Level 2 coaches for the coming season.
Kirsty has already organised a full diary of Try Curling, Beginners Classes and Schools Curling for the coming season.
And we already have arranged with the RCCC for another coaching Master Class to be held in November with coaches from the RCCC.
We will also be further developing our links on coaching and other fronts with Gail Munro and the curlers at Stranraer, with the possibility of some joint events taking place.
7. Junior Curling : one of the key objectives of the Development Group since its formation has been to encourage and develop Junior Curling at Ayr. And one of our undoubted successes last season was getting Jean Morton onto the Development Group. Jean is a key figure within the Junior Curling Club and her contribution to the work of the Development Group has been extremely beneficial. She has made a very positive contribution in relation to the Juniors programme. With the increase in numbers attending the Sunday morning coaching classes, we are actively having to provide additional coaches on Sunday mornings for the Juniors.
8. Wheelchair Curling : one area where we will be concentrating on in the coming season iswheelchair curling. Various practical improvements have been made by the Board to improve wheelchair access to the ice rink and the ice hall with the specific objective of making Ayr Ice Rink more attractive to wheelchair users – these improvements have been greatly appreciated. A specific drive is going to be undertaken to attract more wheelchair curlers to play at Ayr and the assistance of everyone at ACC in spreading this news would be appreciated.
9. Corporate Curling : under Robert Boyd’s guidance and direction we held several highly successful corporate curling days last season. These were enjoyed by everyone – including the coaches – and also brought income into the Club. We intend further developing this aspect of curling at Ayr in the coming season. We will also be developing the links with the students at the university and colleges in Ayr.
10. IT and Communications : during the past season Ronnie Peatand his team further developed the whole area of communication within ACC, with the website being used by more and more people throughout the season. Ronnie is always looking for news and articles for the website so please encourage everyone to contribute stories or Club results.
Ronnie and Allan Sloan have also sought to improve the wifi situation within the ice rink and several improvements were made over the season. Additional improvements will be made in the coming season which can only benefit us in the attempts to bring additional RCCC tournaments to Ayr.
And at the start of the coming season we will have a new tv screen permanently located within the lounge area. This will be used to provide information about curling events at Ayr or further afield, coaching events, competitions, upcoming social events, etc, etc. This is being done to improve the dissemination of information to all curlers about events at Ayr Ice Rink.
11. Conclusion : given all the positive actions taken over the past two seasons I believe that the Development Group goes forward into next season in good heart and with various key targets in mind. I would thank everyone on the Development Group for their contributions to the success we have had to date and look forward to matters moving even further forward in the coming season. I would also like to thank James Galloway and the Board for their ongoing and much appreciated support and assistance throughout last season. And a special mention to Jim Boswell the Board’s representative on the Development Group. Jim is incredibly committed and dedicated to curling at Ayr and his contribution to the Development Group is greatly appreciated.
Euan Lawrence (Chairman ACC Development Group) 04.08.15
Starting from a standing start this time last year I believe that the Development Group (DG) has achieved a great deal and created an excellent base for going forward. The progress and achievements of the DG have largely been down to the individuals involved and the positive and cheerful way we have interacted and worked together. It has been an enjoyable and rewarding team effort.
In no particular order, I would mention the following highlights :
1. last September we agreed a Development Action Plan for Ayr Ice Rink with the Royal Club (RC). The Plan contained a list of targets across a range of activities with financial incentives for achieving the stated targets. I am pleased to say that we met the majority of the targets and secured a total of £2,680 from the Royal Club – not the full amount which was on offer but a major part of it. The money received will assist the Club on several fronts including coaching and encouraging the growth of curling across all age ranges. A Development Action Plan for the coming season has already been agreed with Judith McFarlane and Sheila Swan of the Royal Club – again with financial incentives.
2. our Treasurer Susan Middleton was successful in obtaining grant funding from the Big Lottery Fund, primarily for coaching and communication projects. This involved a long and bureaucratic process and our thanks are to Susan for her perseverance and success. A total grant was forthcoming of £1,950 towards the project with the DG having to contribute an equal sum towards the overall project costs from our own funds. The project runs from 1st March 2014 to 28th February 2015.
3. Communications and IT. : thanks to Ronnie Peat ACC now has a modern, up-to-date and user-friendly website. Ronnie put in a huge amount of time and effort into the website, the quality of which is recognised by many curlers both locally and from outwith Ayrshire. He has also developed the social media side through Twitter and Facebook. A huge thank you is due to Ronnie and also Allan Sloan for all the work they have put in. And on their behalf can I make a plea for everyone not only to use the website but also to contribute news and articles. Assistance in running the website would also be appreciated from any willing volunteers. The DG also purchased the large television screen which is used for coaching and was extensively used and appreciated during the Olympics. Further innovations are in the pipeline.
4. Coaching and Skills Development : major steps forward have been taken in this regard. At the start of the coming season we will have 11 new Level 1 Coaches in place, with an additional 4 members of ACC close to finalising their accreditation as Level 2 Technical Coaches. This increase in qualified coaches will make a huge difference to the amount and quality of coaching we can provide at Ayr Ice Rink, particularly for Schools Curling, Try Curling, Beginners and Improvers Classes, and Corporate Curling.
At the start of the coming season you will see all our coaches kitted out in brand new Royal Club Coaches jackets. This will significantly help identify the coaches during sessions on the ice – particularly when coaching school children and at Try Curling sessions.
On the coaching front we had a hugely successful year with Try Curling and Schools Curling – considerably boosted by the Olympics. At the Olympic Try Curling sessions we had a total of approximately 215 people at Ayr Ice Rink. And we have had an excellent follow-up, with several people already taking Beginners Classes and coming back for more in the new season. And the number of young folk attending schools curling and the Juniors increased considerably during the season – to the extent that more coaches are now needed on Sunday mornings. And we are developing strong links with local schools – with one secondary school in particular considering putting curling on the curriculum. And talking of the Olympics may I say that throughout our Olympic Try Curling days Scott Andrews was an absolute star – he could not have done more to interact with and encourage the members of the public who turned up to have a go at curling.
All this success on the coaching and Try Curling fronts can be credited in large part to one person who led the coaching team in a spectacular and outstanding manner. ACC and the DG owe a huge debt of gratitude to Kirsty Letton. I would hesitate to imagine the number of hours which Kirsty put in behind the scenes, at the ice rink, or on the ice making sure everything was in place and that we had coaches where and when we needed them. And for those of you who do not know it, at the AGM of the Royal Club in July Kirsty was awarded the Grassroots Coach of the Year Award. This was fully merited and reflects Kirsty’s standing and reputation not only in ACC and Ayrshire but throughout Scotland.
In typical Kirsty fashion, Kirsty will give me grief later for mentioning her this evening but I make no apology for doing so. She has been the real driving force behind everything that has been achieved on the ice, and her encouragement and assistance to all the new coaches has been outstanding. She fully merited the Grassroots Coach of the Year.
I would add that Kirsty has already chaired a meeting of all the coaches and set out her plans and programmes for the coming season. And all the dates for the coming season’s Try Curling and Beginner Classes are already on the Club website.
I would also thank Ian Mackin for all the assistance he has given Kirsty and the coaches behind the scenes, - and Jimmy Letton also deserves an award for his patience in letting Kirsty spend so much time at Ayr Ice Rink.
5. Ayrshire Curlers Ltd. : Jim Boswell has been an invaluable member of the DG and has been our link with the Board and Ayrshire Curlers Ltd. At the outset of the DG, I stressed that to enable the DG to press ahead with its particular goals and objectives we needed to know what was going on behind the scenes in terms of the overall building, planned improvements to the fabric, etc. Jim has been great in keeping us abreast of all the hard and unseen work that takes place behind the scenes and advising us of the major challenges the Board has faced over the years in maintaining curling in Ayr. The DG has been made aware of some of the issues involved and everyone on the Board deserves not only the thanks of all ordinary Club Curlers but also our proactive support in taking matters forward at Ayr Ice Rink.
6. The one area I particularly want to highlight this evening as an issue is the relationship between Ayr Curling Club and the Royal Club, and the level of affiliation of ACC curlers to the RC. Ayr has by far the lowest level of affiliation in the whole of Scotland. I am a relatively newcomer to curling and particularly curling in Ayr so I do not know all the history of ACC and its relationship with the RC. From my perspective however and on the basis of my involvement with the RC over the last 15 months, all I see is a great willingness within the RC to assist the maintenance and growth of curling at Ayr. They are very keen to help us with funding, coaching, competitions, seminars, advice, etc. Understandably however they consider that this should be a two way process. If ACC and its individual members appear reluctant partners by not supporting the RC through affiliation there is no incentive for the RC to assist us – they can channel their efforts elsewhere.
In last season’s Development Action Plan the target was to increase the number of affiliated members from 441 to 500 – out of a total membership of ACC of approximately 700. (there are only 22 affiliated Clubs out of 44 Clubs in ACC). We only managed a small increase in numbers to 464. This was thanks mainly to the affiliation of the Disnae Club and its members. As a result of our failure to achieve the stated target we missed out on several hundred pounds which could have come to the Club. In the coming season’s Development Action the Royal Club has made it clear that affiliation is their prime objective. The new target is an increase from 464 to 500 with £1,000 at stake. If the target is not met, we lose out on that £1,000. Bobby Ireland and Kathryn Hay from the DG have been looking at the affiliation issue and we will be taking positive steps to encourage a greater level of affiliation. I appreciate that I am talking primarily to the converted this evening but it is important that we all get this message out to the unaffiliated Clubs and I would ask for your help in doing so. There are numerous positive and tangible benefits of affiliation which we will be making clear to non-affiliated members. In addition, without the support of the Royal Club we would not be eligible for financial assistance from external bodies such as the Big Lottery Fund, Sports Scotland etc.
I would make it clear that it is the unanimous opinion of the DG that we should promote the work of the Royal Club in a more active manner and also strengthen our relationship with the Royal Club.
We also have Billy Howat as the newly appointed Vice President of the Royal Club - a great honour for Billy and also Ayr Curling Club. We need to support Billy in all his activities within the RC and I can assure Billy that he will get that support from the DG.
Out of interest, the Disnae Club received a dozen new brushes from the RC following their affiliation. A small gesture perhaps but one which demonstrates how we can benefit from working with the RC. – and there are many more significant benefits to be gained from the relationship. And in relation to the Disnae Club I would commend the sterling work undertaken by David McIntyre and his team during the season. A considerable increase in numbers was achieved.
Last season we held a highly successful and enjoyable Strategy and Tactics Seminar presented by Sheila Swan of the Royal Club. Kirsty and I have had discussions with Sheila and Judith about holding a Ladies Masterclass this coming season catering for curlers of all standards and abilities. This would be a daytime event, and I will be liaising with Ladies President Katrina Geddes about getting a suitable date. Again I would ask for everyone’s support in promoting this event.
7. Conclusion : in conclusion I would say that the Development Group had a good first year and now has a sound foundation to build on. I would also make the personal comment that although Ayr Curling Club operates in a building that may have seen better days and is a bit worn around the edges, there is a great family spirit and welcoming atmosphere within ACC which is recognised far and wide. There is also significant potential to take things forward. There is large band of willing volunteers at Club level - and with Ayrshire Curlers Ltd, Ayrshire Ice Sports Ltd, Ayr Curling Club, ACC Development Group, the Royal Club and all our individual members all working together the future looks good for curling at Ayr.
Ayr Curling Club Development Group
At the end of 2013 this is an appropriate time to provide a mid-season review of the work of the new Curling Club Development Group since its inception at the end of last season. This summary report for the Newsletter highlights key features of the work of the Group to date and its future plans. A more detailed report is provided on the Club website.
This summary report is intended to provide a flavour of the work undertaken by the new Development Group over the last 6 months. Some good initial progress has been made but there is a long was to go and the assistance of every member of Ayr Curling Club is needed if we are to achieve the aims and objectives of the Group.
Ayr Curling Club Development Group