Curlers launch bid to refurbish ice rink

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KINROSS Curling Trust is preparing to launch a massive fund-raising drive in a bid to safeguard the future of the sport in the area.

That’s after ambitious plans to build a national curling centre in Market Park fell through owing to funding difficulties.

The ‘roaring game’ has been a fixture in the town for centuries, with the local men’s club dating back to the 1600s and monks at St Serf’s playing on the frozen Loch Leven even before that.

But problems with the ageing rink at the Green Hotel mean serious investment is required to make sure the game continues to thrive locally.

Blair Melville, chairman of Kinross Curling Trust, said: “Essentially, the national curling centre project was struggling to raise the money to bridge the funding gap.

DIFFICULT

“The Sport Scotland grant money was time limited and came to an end in February.

“Really, it’s all down to the economic climate — Sport Scotland’s budget has been reduced very substantially and it’s much more difficult to raise money from other sources too.”

Mr Melville went on: “At our AGM in April, the Trust decided to change its focus to the existing facility for curlers in Kinross.

“One of the problems with the Green Hotel rink is that by January 2015 the coolant used in the refrigeration plant will become illegal under European law.

“But there are other problems that need to be tackled too.

“The remit for the trust now is to preserve curling in the Kinross area.”

Mr Melville said that while refurbishment of the existing rink was the most likely scenario, other options — including building a new facility somewhere such as Dunfermline — were also being explored.

OUTCOME

Around 1000 curlers in the Loch Leven area use the Green Hotel, with another 2000 players coming from west Fife and others from east Fife.

Mr Melville added: “The next step will be to report back to trust members in September the outcome of the work we are currently doing.

“Clubs and the trust itself raised about £125,000 during the previous fund-raising effort for the national curling centre.

“The majority of that money is still available to start funding the new project, so we’ve got a basis to work from.

“But we will need to identify further sources of funding.

“Local clubs and curlers will have a role to play — they have proved once already that they can raise significant amounts of money and we would hope they can do so again.”