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After being given one of the greatest opportunities of his life by the Matt Murdoch Foundation, Stranraer’s Niall Ryder is now relishing the chance to provide a bit of payback. 

The Scottish Junior Champion curler, who was sent to Trillium Camp in Ontario Canada by the Foundation in 2018 has also recruited some of his regular team mates – James Craik (Edzell), Mark Watt (Perth) and fellow Stranraer athlete Blair Haswell to join him in taking part in the Kilt Walk, the annual fundraiser challenge that will see them aiming to sweep stones 14.850 kilometres in the National Curling Academy (NCA) in Stirling this weekend. Fay Henderson and Holly Wilkie-Milne are also taking part in this challenge.

“I was incredibly fortunate to have benefitted from the trip to the training camp in Canada,” said Ryder. 

“Looking back I know that trip and experience really helped to develop me as a competitive curler and following that I went on to win various U17 and U21 titles before winning the Scottish Junior Championships as part of Team Craik.

“We then won bronze at the World Juniors and knowing how that success has continued to motivate me as I strive to become a better curler, I want to ensure that other young curlers have the same opportunity to go to Canada in the future. That is why I am so keen to raise as much money as we possibly can.”

Team Craik, Fay Henderson and Holly Wilkie-Milne are British Curling’ Performance Foundation athletes and will be conducting their fundraising challenge at the NCA where they have trained and competed since September. 

“While most curling facilities have been closed due to Covid, we have been incredibly fortunate to have been able to continue our training within the NCA after protocols were introduced to keep us safe. To be honest, the protocols are part of our daily routine and feel like second nature to us now and we are grateful to have this chance to use our training facility as we take on this tough sweeping challenge,” added Ryder.

Matt Murdoch was a key and familiar figure within the curling scene and was a former President of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club (Scottish Curling). After his untimely death in 2014 his family and friends set up the Foundation in his memory to continue his passion of nurturing young Scottish curlers, enabling them to fulfil their potential by providing them to experience life in the curling hotbed of Canada.

The Foundation along with the Rotary Club provides the opportunity each year for two young curlers, from Scotland to attend the Trillium Camp to mix with other aspiring hopefuls from around the world and get the chance to gain experience from the Canadian curling style. The Charity also supports one aspiring Scottish coach to the camp each year and Robin Brydone is next in line to benefit from this experience. 

The venue for the fundraising challenge is especially apt as the NCA is the workplace of two of Matt Murdoch’s children, daughter and Performance Coach Nancy Smith (nee Murdoch) and Olympic Head Coach David Murdoch, both of whom continue their father’s legacy by nurturing and coaching curling talent.

“We are extremely proud of these young athletes and their fundraising challenge,” said Nancy Smith who is a trustee of her father’s Foundation.

“They are an incredibly hard working bunch and they have fully understood the privileged position they were in getting access to ice and coaching over the last eight months and they have not taken that for granted. 

“My family are heartened by their response and desire to give back to my dad’s Foundation in a bid to help others as they have been helped. We very much hope that they and others taking part for the Trust achieve their target and we also appreciate this has been a very difficult year for many. If anyone is able to contribute to this fundraising effort we would be incredibly grateful and every penny raised will be topped up by 50% thanks to the amazing generosity of Sir Tom Hunter and The Hunter Foundation. “

To follow team’s challenge as part of the 2021 Virtual Kiltwalk (23-25 April) please follow the link to the Matt Murdoch Foundation page: 

Images: PPA / Graeme Hart. 



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