A curling volunteer who has dedicated her life to the sport insists she has no plans to hang up her brush, having been recognised by the Queen for her tireless work.
Kirsty Letton from Troon in Ayrshire has been a driving force behind Ayr Curling Club, inspiring hundreds of others to get involved in the sport in 40 years of volunteering on the rink.
Last year Kirsty, 78, was awarded the Lifetime Achievement in Volunteering award at the sportscotland Coaching, Officiating and Volunteering Awards. Now she has had her efforts recognised by Her Majesty and has a royal appointment at Buckingham Palace in November to receive an MBE for services to curling.
As the awards flood in, Kirsty is in no mood to take a step back from the ice and remains as determined as ever to help others enjoy the sport she loves.
She said: “It’s a wonderful sport, the very first game I played was the first time I had spent two or three hours totally absorbed. I came off and thought ‘this is for me’.
“I would miss it a lot if I was to give it up. I have no plans to stop at all, as long as I’m fit and able I’ll keep going.”
Since 2014 Kirsty has been a driving force behind the Try Curling, Beginners, Improvers and Curling’s Cool programmes in Ayr, which have seen the number of active coaches delivering sessions increase dramatically. Kirsty’s approach has motivated hundreds of South Ayrshire primary school pupils to have fun on the ice at curling taster sessions.
As well as inspiring the stars of tomorrow, Kirsty instigated the establishment of the strongly contested World Senior Curling Championships in 2000. She also set up the Glynhill Lades Curling International event, which attracts world-class teams to compete in Scotland.
Since winning the lifetime achievement award at the 2017 sportscotland COV Awards, Ayr Curling Club have been boosted by the arrival of Olympic silver medallist Scott Andrews as a development officer.
Kirsty hailed the impact of the Kilmarnock curler, who won silver with Team Murdoch at Sochi 2014, and says she still feels the same pride from seeing youngsters enjoying themselves on the ice as she did 40 years ago.
She said: “We are delighted to have Scott, to have someone with that kind of experience has been great for the club and curling in the area.
"We’ve had such a good response from the schools Scott goes out to that I’m not quite sure how we’ll cope with it all!
“To be honest, after so many years in the sport it is still brilliant to see such enthusiasm for it from the next generation.”
Stewart Harris, sportscotland chief executive, said: “Every year across Scotland, thousands of dedicated sporting enthusiasts devote their time, knowledge and skills to help others achieve their sporting goals.
"Our Coaching, Officiating and Volunteering Awards provide us with a chance to celebrate the great sporting achievements that are taking place every day and congratulate individuals on their commitment to Scottish sport.
“Kirsty has dedicated her life to curling in Scotland, inspiring many to take up the sport and help the nation perform on the world stage. In her incredible 40 years as a volunteer she has helped make curling more accessible for hundreds of youngsters and encouraged people of all ages to be the best players they can be. Kirsty is a credit to the sport and volunteering.”
Find out more
Do you know a dedicated coach, official or volunteer who you think should be recognised? Find out more about our COV Awards and nominate now.