Wednesday 15th October was a red-letter day for disability sports in the Borders region of Scotland and, in particular, registered charity The Borders Wheelchair Curling Club. Rhona Martin MBE, the skip of the Olympic Gold medal winning British women's curling team, officially launched a new wheelchair lift at Border ice rink in Kelso.
The new lift, supplied by movemanSKG, enables disabled curlers and other people with mobility problems to access the second floor clubrooms at the ice rink. Prior to the installation of the lift, the club's disabled members were unable to use the excellent facilities and socialise with each other, an important aspect of any sport. To mark the special day, wheelchair curlers from all over Scotland and the north of England joined members of the Borders club to play in a bonspiel. Kate Caithness, the World Curling Federation Disabled Project Leader and member of the International Paralympics Committee also attended the event.
Jim Buchanan, the current Chairman, is very much the driving force behind the Borders Wheelchair Curling Club. It was he who encouraged Kate Caithness to organise a 'Come and Try' day at the Kelso ice rink back in March 2001. Nine people turned up and as a result the club was established. It currently has fifteen members, some of whom regularly represent England at various international disabled curling events. Its charitable status meant that the club had to rely upon grants from various charitable trusts as well as its own fund raising activities to cover the cost of the new lift. "Twelve months of hard work organising lunches, raffles and auctions in addition to applying for dozens and dozens of grants." Jim recalls. "It's all been worthwhile though. Being able to socialise after the game is all part of the fun. Having the wheelchair lift will hopefully encourage more disabled people to come and join us."
The lift, a movemanSKG Companion Prestige, has sufficient space for a wheelchair user and attendant and has power operated doors, which are opened by simply pushing a button. It fully complies with all relevant UK and European legislation, governing the use of platform lifts.
"Even though the lift has only been operational for a short time, it is proving extremely popular." Jim continues. "What sets the movemanSKG lift apart is its size. It has a larger platform than others we looked at, which means it can accommodate all types of wheelchair, including full size electric models."
The Borders Wheelchair Club is representing England at the next world disabled curling championships, which are being held in January 2004 at Sursee in Switzerland. Any offers of financial support would be hugely welcome. To find out more call Jim Buchanan on 01289 304022 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.