Planning for new curling facility in north of England approved!

On 16th June, Wyre Borough Council approved plans for a Mixed use development comprising retail (A1), cafe/restaurants (A3) and leisure development (D2) with associated parking, servicing, access and landscaping at Barton Grange, North of Preston. The development includes a 4 lane dedicated curling rink. Full details of all the development can be found here:

Barton Grange is run by the Topping family and Guy Topping has become a curler and plays with Preston CC. They also run a hotel just South of the proposed site which is attached to an existing garden centre.


This is tremendous news for curling in the North of England.

World University Games 2015 – Granada, Spain

World University Games 2015 – Granada, Spain

 By Angharad Ward

Angharad was alternate in the Great Britain team at the World University Games

Angharad was alternate in the Great Britain team at the World University Games

I recently partook in the World University Games as part of the GB curling team. Curling, is a widely Scotland dominated sport in the UK and so I was honoured to be the only English member out of both the men and women’s teams. I joined the other four girls as their alternate. We received all our new GB stash, playing kit as well as matching everyday outfits, and then along with our two coaches and physiotherapist, we were ready for the Games!


The curling aspect of the Games (GB had representatives in other sports too such as snowboarding and figure skating, all of whom had their own competing schedule) started on February 3rd, with a team meeting involving all the other countries to have a briefing about the rules of competition and an opportunity for any questions to be answered.


Practice was held the next day as well as the official opening ceremony of the Games, and then we were into our first round robin game the next morning. We played 9 games over 6 days against Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, Japan, USA, Norway, Spain, Russia and Korea (I was subbed on to play these last two mentioned games). While not playing, I was on the bench with the coaches making notes on our next opponents, as well as preparing the all important half time snacks.


WUGs 2

The Great Britain ladies team

We got off to a bit of a slow start in the competition, narrowly losing to Norway, followed by defeats from USA and the competition favourites, Canada. Our first win was a satisfying 14-1 against Spain, the host nation, before losing to Russia (the same team that competed in the Winter Olympics). We clocked a second win against Korea, before very closely losing to Switzerland, 4-5. We finished the competition on a high, beating Sweden and Japan, and so ended 7th with our 4-5 record.


Overall, we were pleased with our performance, although had hoped for a few more wins on the table to make the top 4 and the playoffs. Our last few days were spent exploring Granada city as well as cheering and making up chants for our mens team who eventually went on to win bronze. We were joined by our many supporters; mainly our parents but we roped in some of the local school children who had come to watch as well.


We departed for home with heavy hearts on Valentines Day, sad to leave the great atmosphere and knowing that uni work awaited us upon arrival. However, the Games was such a great experience and I really enjoyed the event; being part of the BUCS team was a privilege and definitely a positive step in the direction of furthering my curling career.

In Profile – Hetty Garnier


Hetty at the WJCC in Talinn, 2015

Hetty Garnier, aged just 19, has already racked up 71 caps and has played for England since the age of 13! Not only has she had an unbelievable run at juniors, skipping the girls to the Junior World Championships for the first time in English history earlier this month, but she also won a bronze medal in her first appearence at senior level in the European Curling Championships B Group in 2013.


We are so proud of Hetty’s achievements for English curling and of course everyone wants to know more about her many years of curling so far!


Position in team: Skip


Years Curled: 11


How did you first get into curling?


I first started curling when a friend invited me to the rink with her about 8 years ago.


Where do you now play most of your curling?


Fenton’s Rink is where I practice most often, unfortunately there are no rinks near Bristol.


What is your best curling memory?


One of my best curling memories is winning bronze in the 2013 Europeans Women’s B Group. We were a new team and it was my first experience of a senior tournament so we did really well to come away with a medal- my first ever European medal- so the whole week was great.


What has been your proudest moment whilst representing England?

Hatty skiped the England junior girls at the WJCC in Talinn, 2015

Hatty skiped the England junior girls at the WJCC in Talinn, 2015


My proudest moment was definitely winning the EJCC earlier this year, it was the first time an English Girls team had qualified for the World Championships, and it was incredible to feel like all our years of hard work had paid off.


Who is your inspiration?


I find the standard of Canadian curling very inspirational, especially teams like Jennifer Jones’ who has won Olympic gold and the Scotties in the last year.


Who do you think the best curler in the world is?


I think the best curler in the world right now is probably Brad Jacobs, he’s achieved so much in the last couple of years and can pull off any shot.


Describe your pre-match routine.


Before a game we try to get to the rink at least an hour early so we have time to get changed, find somewhere to warm up and put on some music to get up pumped up while we’re stretching. A couple of years ago we made up this dance thing where we kick our feet together which is really good for getting warmed up. After that we have a quick recap of our tactics and get into the game mentally before we head out onto the ice for pre-game practice.


Have you ever had a curling related disaster?


At the 2010 EJCC we didn’t win any games, which you might call a disaster!


Do you have any tips for juniors and less experienced curlers?


For any less experienced curlers, I would recommend playing as much as possible, especially in league games and tournaments to get tactical experience and to perfect your technique. It also helps to watch games on the world curling YouTube channel so you can see how the top teams in the world play and familiarise yourself with their strategies.


What do you do when you aren’t curling?


When I’m not curling I’ll be doing uni work, or keeping active playing tennis or hockey.


What do you love about your team?


I love the fact that because we’ve all been curling together since we were really young we have a really fun time when we go away for competitions, we always laugh non-stop.


What are your strengths and weaknesses on the ice?


My main strength is hitting which I have always preferred. My main weakness is now probably sweeping as I have been playing skip for the last couple of seasons so have managed to avoid doing it!


What do you love about curling?


I love the fact that curling is so social, you get to know everyone. Also it allows you to travel a lot with your team which is a lot of fun.


In Profile

Phil Barton has curled since 1983 and has played at four World Senior Curling Championships for England, earning 19 caps since 2006. Not only has he represented the England at World Championship level, Phil also organises the Preston Curling Club and First English Province’s FullSizeRenderannual I’Anson competition in Stranraer which is always one of the top ECA competitions attracting top teams from the home nations.

Phil is a highly valued member of the English Curling Association and a credit to curling in England, so we asked to hear about his experiences curling and representing his nation. 

Position: Skip

Years curled: 22

How did you first get into curling?

I had stopped playing rugby as my main sport soon after moving to Scotland in 1983 as work and family took up most of my time. In the early 90s a good friend asked me to join a local club – Inverkeithing. From 1983 on, I became a very keen curler!

Preferred position in team.

In the club and local curling I prefer to be skip. In external events and ‘serious’ bonspiels and competitions I love the variation that comes from playing third.

Where do you now play most of your curling?

Preston curl at Lockerbie, however I curl mostly at Kinross. My club, Inverkeithing, also curl at Murrayfield, Perth, Stirling and Kirkcaldy,

What is your best curling memory?

I have many, but two stand out. Qualifying from Playdowns to represent England in the World Seniors in St Paul, USA and being part of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club Strathcona Cup tour to Canada in 2013 – one month of curling memories!

What has been your proudest moment whilst representing England?

Reaching the quarter finals in St. Paul and then missing the semis by one shot to Australia.

What is your funniest curling memory?

I enjoy being in the same rink as Tommy Campbell – he can be very amusing.

Who is your inspiration?

Outside curling – my family.

In curling – it is more about the thrill of meeting new people and then many becoming good friends. So my inspiration is the camaraderie of curling.

Who do you think the best curler in the world is?

I admire Eve Muirhead, but as we know one match can change things.

Describe your pre-match routine.

I like to have a few moments to myself. On the way to events if I am by myself I listen to my favourite music – one good one is a track called England by the National.

Have you ever had a curling related disaster?

I guess that does not mean the bad results! I do have dreams from time to time when I arrive without my kit .. So far that has not been a real experience.

Do you have any tips for juniors and less experienced curlers?

Consider the fact that curling is the best sport in the world and take every opportunity.  You can learn more about the sport in every match.

What do you do when you aren’t curling?

I guess that might be a different answer if you speak to my wife Judith. Apart from work she often thinks the only thing I do is related to curling. I now play golf occasionally and have given up my allotment. Family are important – but most time is taken up with curling related things!

What would your three main rules be if you ruled the world?

This is a tough one …  it would never happen, and certainly not be a post I would like. Three things that spring to mind are:

  • There would be a plan to share the world’s wealth around more
  • Make sure everyone had a reliable water supply
  • We would emphasise the joy of sport and music and aim to ensure everyone had more time to relax.


Greenacres Curling Club, 20th to 22nd March 2015




Friday 20th March                     1500


Andrew Woolston          v          Stephen Hinds

Arthur Bates                  v          Michael Opel

Ben Fowler                   v          John Brown


Friday 20th March                    2030


John Brown                   v          Arthur Bates

Stephen Hinds              v          Ben Fowler

Michael Opel                 v          Andrew Woolston


Saturday 21st March                 1000


Andrew Woolston          v          Ben Fowler

Michael Opel                 v          John Brown

Stephen Hinds              v          Arthur Bates


Saturday 21st March                 1500


John Brown                   v          Stephen Hinds

Arthur Bates                  v          Andrew Woolston

Ben Fowler                    v          Michael Opel


Sunday 22nd March                 0900


Arthur Bates                  v          Ben Fowler

Michael Opel                 v          Stephen Hinds

John Brown                   v          Andrew Woolston


Sunday 22nd March                 1215






Andrew Woolston          Lesley Gregory              Martin Gregory              Kirsty Balfour

Stephen Hinds              Alison Mather                Steve Amann                Kitty Conlin

Arthur Bates                  Lana Watson                 Harry Mallows               Sara Jahodova

Michael Opel                 Amanda McDonell         Josh Hiller                     Samantha Leung.

Ben Fowler                    Lorna Rettig                  Nigel Patrick                 Anna Fowler

John Brown                   Jean Robinson              Owen Rees                   Judith Dixon

ECA Men’s National Championships


Seven men’s teams gathered at a new venue for this event, the Dumfries Ice Bowl, with Alan MacDougall seeking to defend his title against rivals old and new. Alan had added Ben Fowler as a fifth player to the team this year, having taken Ben to the Europeans in November where he played a number of games in the new rotation system that the team were using. Old rivals Michael Opel and Jamie Malton continued together with Henry Carter and a new team member in Harry Mallows, in to replace Keith Wilson who has moved to Scotland. Jamie’s brother, Ken, completed the only other 5 man team in the competition.

James Dixon and Bruce Bowyer entered again with Nigel Patrick and Mark Wilkinson, who was playing his first games of the season, while John Summers entered his English Senior Champions, getting some extra games before heading off to Sochi in April. Three new teams were also entered – Greg Dunn returned to the Championships with Arthur Bates, and the two Canadians were joined by Stephen Hinds, who had not played in the Championships since 2009, and Steve Amann. Two more Canadians, Bryan Zachary and Jonathan Havercroft, had teamed up with the youngest (Ollie Kendall) and the oldest (John Brown) players in the competition while Owen Rees had brought a team from Kent including James Burman, Vincent Branch and Stephen Lea, all graduates from the Fenton’s Novice league.

A single round-robin followed by a final was the format for the competition and play began at 1400 on Thursday. The first action was the new double LSD procedure which has been introduced by the WCF this season. Two stones are thrown after 9 minutes practice by different players, one with a clockwise rotation and one anti-clockwise. The distance that each one finishes from the button is measured and then the total for each team used to decide which team has the hammer.

This first session produced the worst set of LSDs of the competition as the teams got used to the ice conditions, but it was the Champions who had the lowest total and they started against Greg Dunn with the hammer and made use of it to score 2. They then lost 7 shots in a row and after 7 ends it was 8-3 to Team Dunn and it looked like a shock was on the cards straightaway, but in a great comeback by Team MacDougall they scored a 4 and 2 singles, the last one on a measure, to win by 9-8. Other games saw easy wins for Bryan Zachary over Owen Rees and Michael Opel over John Summers, both by 12-3.

The second session was at 2030 and Team MacDougall was in trouble again, this time against Team Opel who were 6-3 ahead after 6 ends, but then an amazing streak of last stone misses by Michael Opel saw Team MacDougall take 4 singles to win by 7-6 against their biggest rivals. John Summers fought off a late comeback by Owen Rees to win 11-9 and Greg Dunn recovered from his first session disappointment  to defeat James Dixon, having his first game, by 10-6.

There were no real shocks in sessions 3, 4 and 5 with MacDougall and Opel continuing to win fairly easily to set up an intriguing session 6. In this session MacDougall (undefeated on 5 wins) was due to face Owen Rees, who was winless, and Opel (with just 1 loss) had to play Greg Dunn who had won 2 and lost 2. If as expected, MacDougall won this, his last round-robin game, then the Opel v Dunn held all the cards about how the rest of the competition would go – if Opel won then it would be necessary for him to play (and win) his last round robin game to force a final, but if Dunn won then MacDougall would be champion again and there would be no need for a final as MacDougall would have 2 more wins than any other team, even before the last session. Of course if MacDougall lost then other permutations came into play!!

Andrew Reed took over skipping duties for Team MacDougall as Alan sat this one out and, in spite of a brief scare when Rees scored a 3 to close to 5-9, Andrew steered the team to a 10-5 win. Meanwhile Greg Dunn had started off against Opel by scoring three singles and by end 7 the game was still close with Dunn leading 5-3, having just lost a steal of one and the gallery were wondering if there would be a comeback from Opel to rival MacDougall’s against the same opponent. A great end 8 by Team Dunn, however, including a last stone hit and stick by Greg gave them a 4 and basically finished the game although Opel did play a 9th end to see if they could get close enough to make a 10th end necessary. A single shot was not enough though and hands were shaken at 9-4 for Team Dunn.

So with one round-robin session not needing to be played, Alan MacDougall and his team of Andrew Reed, Andrew Woolston and Tom Jaeggi won a 6th consecutive English Championship, helped this time by Ben Fowler, matching the feat of Alistair Burns and Stephen Watts 20 years previously. It was Andrew Reed’s 10th Championship and Tom Jaeggi’s 8th.

Here are the happy champions in their new kit, sponsored by the Barton Grange Garden Centre, near Garstang in Lancashire where the owner, Guy Topping, plans to build a 4 sheet curling rink in the next couple of years.

Mens champs

The final standings were: MacDougall (6-0), Dunn, Opel and Dixon (3-2), Zachary (2-3), Summers (1-4) and Rees (0-5), all teams except MacDougall only playing 5 games.

The best overall LSD score by an individual was an average of 13.9 cms for two shots by Vincent Branch followed by Ben Fowler at 31.1 cms and Alan MacDougall at 38.2 cms.

Many thanks to Graham Sloan and Dumfries Ice Bowl for staging the event and to Robin Shand for umpiring. Some of the games were streamed on the Ice Bowl website and can be seen on their Youtube channel –

European Junior Challenge 2015


After 6 previous attempts the England Junior Women qualified for the World Junior Championship with a fairly dominant display at the European Junior Challenge in Prague. A look at their scores emphasises how much better they were than the majority of the other teams they met, but it was the semi-final against Hungary that was a true measure of their improved quality and maturity. After wins by 14-1 against Spain, 9-1 against Slovenia and 8-1 against Slovakia there were two narrow wins against Poland (5-2) and Turkey (4-2) before a defeat by Italy (2-7) in the last round robin game when they had already guaranteed finishing top in their group.

A quarter –final win against Latvia by 7-1 was followed by their toughest game of the competition against Hungary who were runners-up last year. It was 5-2 for England after 6 ends and then Hungary scored 3 at the 7th leaving Hetty Garnier with a hit and stick to win the game in the 8th end which she did perfectly. Against Turkey in the final it was back to routine with a staggering 9-1 win in just 6 ends rounding off an incredible week and sending the girls to the World Championships in Estonia at the beginning of March.

Congratulations to Hetty Garnier, Angharad Ward, Naomi Robinson, Lucy Sparks and Niamh Fenton who were ably coached by Sara Jahodova. Unfortunately Sara cannot go to Estonia with them as coach owing to work commitments but they will be coached there by John Sharp who has worked with the majority of the team at the European Championships over the past couple of seasons.


Six years ago John Brown took the first team of English girls to play in an International Competition to the European Junior Challenge in Copenhagen. Three times previously, (1993, 1998 and 1999) a team of boys had qualified to play in the World Championships with a best finish of 8th in both 1993 and 1998. They had had to play in a World Championship Challenge at that time as well – though their performance in 1998 qualified them direct for the Worlds in 1999.

But this was something new – since the opening of Fenton’s Rink in 2004 there had been a steady flow of junior curlers and now we had found a girl’s team to go out and challenge the World – well the rest of Europe initially!  Here they are at Fenton’s before they set off:


Left to right – Anna Fowler (skip), Sophie Hickling (3rd), Kate McKenzie (2nd), Naomi Robinson (lead / alternate), Hetty Garnier (lead / alternate)

And they had their supporting entourage as well – John Brown, Vicky McKenzie, Jules Fowler and Felicity Robinson all ready to wave the flags for England.

Mums and JB

It was a small field that year – just 11 countries – and so the girls teams were split into 2 groups – we were in a group of 5 along with France, Germany, Finland and Slovakia – a tough task for our inexperienced team but they got off to the best possible start when they defeated Slovakia by 9-1! The Slovakians had played in  a previous year and so had some experience at this level and so for Anna and her team this was an unbelievable start and spirits rose. One interesting thing about the Slovakian team was that at least 3 of them were deaf and they used various hand signals for sweeping calls.

After a session off it was Finland next and reality struck hard – we were 7-0 down after 2 ends and eventually lost 11-2 after 7. Next it was France and 9-0 down after 2 ends led to a 16-3 defeat. Finally Germany and a 12-0 defeat after 6!! So a chastening end to a week that started off well but lessons were learnt and thoughts turned to Prague a year later.

One thing that was required was a coach and we found one in the form of Ian Baxter, who was living down South and playing at Fenton’s – Scottish Junior Champion in 1990 with Graeme Connal he went to Prague with a revised team. Sophie and Kate were gone and replaced by Lauren Pearce and Madeline Tuz, 2 more graduates from the Fenton’s junior programme. Hetty had moved to third and Naomi to second.

Hopes were high that progress would be made in a 10 team competition that meant 9 round-robin games before the play-offs – a tough schedule. By the end of the week though all dreams had been shattered when the team failed to register a win  – Finland (3-7), Slovakia (4-8), Denmark (0-12), Italy (5-6), Spain (7-8), Norway (4-9), Germany (5-6), Estonia (4-6) and Poland (3-7). There were some close games in there though – the Spanish loss was at an extra end – but still some first end nightmares ( losing a 6 v Norway for example).

Ian Baxter was unable to commit to another year and so we approached Greg Dunn, a Canadian who was playing at Fenton’s and had experience of coaching / junior curling at home. Another Canadian recruit was a young girl, just 15 years old, who had been brought up in British Columbia and had taken up curling and been to various camps etc. over there. Her father is English and so when she appeared at Fenton’s, having moved to a village just 15 minutes away, she was eligible to represent England without any wait to achieve residency qualifications. Her name was Angharad Ward and she was immediately drafted into the team in place of Madeline Tuz.

It was back to Prague in 2011 and the new coach made his mark by getting the whole team (and the boy’s team) to do some runs around the rink as a penalty for being late for a meeting! John Brown also accompanied them on this occasion and we began to see that week the beginnings of the progress which had been absent the previous year. Another tough week with 8 games to be played in the round-robin and things did not start well – 2-6 v Spain and 1-10 v Italy, but then a win – against Slovakia by 8-3 and hopes rose. A loss against the top team, Germany, was followed by a second victory, against Estonia by 5-2, and then another one – 4-2 v Poland. Finally two more defeats – 3-5 v Norway and 0-6 v Denmark. So 3 wins and 5 losses and still not troubling the top teams – but the team were starting to understand the nuances of the game and to get the experience of International competition.

Copenhagen called in 2012 and Greg needed some help and up stepped Kerr Alexander – nominally to coach the boys’ team but also assisting Greg with the girls. Angharad was unable to play this year as she was involved in the Winter Youth Olympics for the GB team and was needed for pre-Games practice and so Lucy Sparks came in as alternate. This was also Anna’s last year and she meant to go out on a high.

Greg juniors

Left to right – Greg Dunn Lucy Sparks, Lauren Pearce, Naomi Robinson, Hetty Garnier and Anna Fowler. Compare to the last picture!!!

Nine teams again and another 8 game round-robin. This year wins were recorded against Denmark (5-2), Slovakia (6-2), Hungary (9-4), Spain (6-3), Poland (6-5) and Germany (8-6) and there were two defeats by Italy (3-5 after extra end) and Estonia (3-8). However this meant that England finished second in the round-robin and would play a semi-final against Denmark. This was a very low-scoring game with neither side willing to gamble but eventually Denmark won by 3-1though they then lost in the final to Italy who therefore went to the Worlds.

It was back to Prague in 2013 and the major change was, of course, that Anna was no longer a junior, and neither was Lauren, and so Hetty stepped up to the mark to lead the team, Angharad returned to the team at third, Naomi stayed at second, Lucy moved in at lead and Niamh Fenton was the new alternate. Neither Greg nor Kerr was able to commit the time to travel with the team and so John Brown and Andrew Woolston were this year’s coaches for both the girls and the boys.

JB juniors

There were 12 teams split into 2 groups of 6 and it started off extremely well, when following a close defeat by Hungary (3-4), there was a win over old rivals Denmark by 5-3 in a game where Hetty was marked as playing 95%. However this was followed by a 3-10 defeat by Poland although a victory over Latvia by 6-4 meant that there was still a chance of finishing in the top 2 of the group if Turkey could be beaten, but this was not to be and a 5-3 victory for Turkey left England 4th in the group when a win would actually have meant that they finished top based on the DSC which would have been needed to separate them from Denmark and Hungary. So 3 wins out of 5 – close but still not there.

It was a new venue for 2014 – Lohja in Finland and while the team stayed the same the coach changed again and Sara Jahodova was recruited. Sara is from the Czech Republic and has played for her country at the World Championship , though she currently lives in England. Her partner, Radek Bohac provided some assistance but it was a tough time for her to look after 2 teams.

Once again there were 12 teams divided into 2 groups of 6 and the English campaign got off to the worst possible start when they ran out of time in the first game against Hungary and automatically lost the game! However, the girls bounced back and won their next 4 games – Germany (4-3), Latvia (7-2), Estonia (6-4) and Finland (13-0) to finish second behind Hungary and next was a quarter-final v Norway which was won well by 8-2 but the semi-final against Italy saw a disappointing 2-9 loss. With a bronze medal at stake in their final game they won an extra end decision against Poland and those medals by 7-6. So all the time it was getting closer but time was running out a little bit – astonishingly Hetty had now played in 6 EJCC but she still had three years eligibility left, as had Angharad and Lucy, but Naomi was done to just 2 and so 2015 would be a critical year.

The rest, as they say, is history!!!