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British Curling’s Hammy McMillan believes he will not take being back on ice for granted ever again as he lends his support to the #saveleisure campaign, supporting facilities across the UK who are endeavouring to re-open following the national lockdown due to the Covid19 pandemic.

McMillan is a four time national champion and returned to socially distanced training with his team mates at the purpose built National Curling Academy in Stirling yesterday, as Team Mouat started their on-ice preparations for their European Curling Championships campaign in November.

The lead for Team Mouat also works for Active Stirling as a curling development officer and he is well aware of the importance of sporting facilities within communities across the country. 

“As an elite curler obviously being able to train in a facility is hugely important to me,” said McMillan.

“However it is not just about training to win medals, I know from my job as a development officer just how crucial a role sport plays in the lives of those who live in Stirling and it will be the same for every community across the UK.”

McMillan has worked for Active Stirling - who manage sport and leisure provision and facilities in the Stirling area - for more than four years, juggling the role with his programme curling commitments as a member of Scotland’s top ranked men’s curling team.

He has been furloughed for the past four months and does not anticipate being back at work just yet, but is keen that organisations like the charity he works for is adequately supported in the challenging months ahead.

“I couldn’t ask for a better employer than Active Stirling,” he said.

“They have given me so much support and flexibility when I have been representing Scotland and competing abroad, in fact they have really helped to support me to achieve my curling goals.

“Most people think of Active Stirling and think of the facility at The Peak, when they are much more than that. They do so much with so many people in the area, hard to reach groups, the Macmillan groups, plus provide sporting provision for those with Alzheimer’s as well as the active schools programme and youth groups and so much more. In my working role I have come to realise that sport is key to almost every aspect of community life and for some it has even provided a lifeline.

“Getting facilities back up and running is important to the health and mental wellbeing of communities and it is why I want to help raise awareness.”

#saveleisure is a digital campaign run by Community Leisure UK, ukactive and CIMSPA urging the UK Government to commit relief funding to enable the full reopening and recovery of the public leisure sector following the devastating impact of Covid-19. 

Without specific relief funding the campaign organisers estimate that a third of all public leisure facilities in the UK will not reopen and half will face permanent closure by the end of the year. With that in mind, McMillan wants to lend his support.

“I fully appreciate that I have been incredibly fortunate as an elite curler and I really enjoyed getting back on ice yesterday,” he said.

“ I know how much I have been impacted by not having access to a gym or an ice rink and I want to make sure others get the chance to resume their sporting interests too, so I urge other to back this campaign.”

The campaign has also been heartily endorsed by British Curling’s Executive Performance Director Nigel Holl, who noted that the sport’s leading players would have been greatly disadvantaged in their bid to prepare for the new season without the Active Stirling, Stirling Council and sportscotland funded facility.

““We are extremely fortunate to have an elite curling facility hosted by a dynamic proactive leisure trust in Active Stirling,” he said.

“Whilst we are back to training for a limited selected group of elite athletes, the wider impact that leisure centres and trusts have on local communities is huge, and I would lend my voice to supporting this sector and the role that they can and do continue to play in tackling the physical and mental health of the nation, obesity, and general activity levels,” 

For more information on the #saveleisure campaign, please follow the link:

Images: PPA Graeme Hart.


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