They are one of the last few clubs in Scotland to preserve the centuries-old tradition of outdoor curling.
Braving the elements to enjoy their sport in the countryside, Tarland Curling Club has remained faithful to the roots of the winter sport since its foundation in 1886.
Unlike others who have opted for indoor ice rings, the group has maintained the “magical” feeling of sliding the granite stones on a frozen pond – as their ancestors once did.
But solely relying on the frosty Scottish weather was always bound to be a challenge – with having proper ice and light playing an essential part in outdoor curling.
‘It was a life or death situation for the club’
For the last several years, the group has been in desperate need of a new lighting system at their pond near the village to secure the club’s future and attract new members.
Members launched a project to replace the failing old lights in 2020, however, were faced with a number of obstacles – including lack of funding and the impact of Covid.
Now, after two years of relentless efforts and 300 hours of voluntary work, they have finally achieved the “seemingly impossible” and created a “magnificent” curling venue.
Club secretary Alastair Scott hopes their achievement will encourage others to believe in the “power of the community spirit” and fulfill their dreams.
He said: “I’m still in disbelief that we managed to do it, and there is definitely immense pride – it’s a great achievement for us.
“Maybe we could have improvised and limped on for a few more years with our old lights, but because we can only play in winter, these floodlights mean everything to us. It really was a life or death situation.
“Many other clubs across the country just specialise in indoor curling, therefore they don’t have any concerns, but we really believe and love the traditional way of playing. It’s like a heart-warming step back in time.
“We have a wonderful community with fantastic energy and spirit here, and I want our example to encourage others that if you have dreams and things you want to do, there is help and hope out there.”
Attracting new members to preserve traditional curling
The new floodlights were installed in November after the club secured a £6,000 cash boost from the National Lottery to kick-start the project.
However, Mr Scott added this wouldn’t have been possible without the “incredible” community, who volunteered their time, skills and machinery to bring it to fruition.
With generous donations from members and Malcolm Allan Housebuilders, the club completed the project at the cost of £6,215 – nearly £18,000 less than the price initially set by an outside contractor.
They are now hoping their improved venue will help them attract a new generation of players to carry on the tradition of outdoor curling.
Mr Scott said: “We have a very strong group of around 30 players, who are totally dedicated and turn up regularly, but our next step is to attract more young people.
“Installing the new lights was the first stage – without the facilities we can’t play curling. But we are a dedicated club looking to the future – and now that we have them, we can try to expand our membership.”