Health charity bonspiel back after four years

The Glencoe and District Curling Club will be sweeping hard to draw in some cash March 4 for the Canadian Cancer Society’s Glencoe branch and the Middlesex Hospital Alliance, which supports Strathroy Middlesex General Hospital and Four Counties Health Services in Newbury.

The 25th charity bonspiel will be the first in four years. It has been cancelled every year since the 2020 version that was set to go just as the Covid-19 pandemic started.

Club vice president Jim McKellar said the aim is to have 16 teams of all ages and abilities sign up.

“There are teams of four. You don’t have to be a curler. We’ve got all kinds from experienced to non-curlers,” said McKellar.

He said his family will be there and they play once per year. Equipment including sliders and brooms are available to borrow for newcomers. Lunch is provided and two games are guaranteed for the $140 donation per team or $35 per player.

Anyone worried about a discrepancy between more seasoned curlers and first-timers need not worry: unique rules mean after four ends anyone winning will switch to play the other teams winning, and vice versa for the teams who are behind to make the games as fun as possible.

“It’s totally for fun,” said McKellar, adding this is for people in their teens all the way to their 80s.

And anyone who wants to try the game before the March 4 event can play two hours for free Sundays at 3pm. Kids can also play for free Sundays at 1pm.

President Kevin Feasey said 20 to 32 kids show up every Sunday to try the roaring game. That is on top of schools that bus in for some wintertime physical activity.

Everyone interested in trying the sport will have an extra two weeks this year, with the season extended into mid-April. That is thanks to a new $130,000 ice-making machine.

When it came time to replace the old one, the fundraising got into high gear for the club and its current contingent of 118 members — a number climbing as more learn to curl.

They are almost halfway there with over $62,000 raised. The club could not get grants, so got low-interest financing from Community Futures Middlesex.

Money raised included a surprise donation from 10-year-old Cullen Carvell. The club bestowed a jacket to Cullen after he raised over $4,500 from a bottle drive.

Anyone looking to donate to the club can do so by getting in touch with Feasey at his email or by calling him at 226-448-0563.

Chris Gareau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Middlesex Banner