Monday, 8 October 2018

Tour of Scotland, Part One: The Isle of Arran

Whiting Bay - here I come!
A lot has happened in the year since I first started my CSC outreach work in Scotland.

Following very successful training days in Edinburgh in October 2017 and April 2018, there was a large amount of excellent feedback and a swell of enthusiasm which led to the creation of a new and highly ambitious plan to spend some time touring various parts of Scotland, to see exactly what sort of impact we could make in the schools and communities.

Meticulous planning was required to turn the proposed tour from a dream into a reality and I have to say it was definitely worth all the hard work and seemingly endless hours of preparation.

When I finally arrived in Glasgow late on Wednesday evening, having caught the first of many trains immediately after my day at school, I just had time to run through my plans one more time before getting ready for the 4.00 a.m. start of the next day.

The Isle of Arran was the first location on my busy agenda. It definitely represents a different environment when compared to our usual city centres. The seed of the idea was sown when Rob Colston attended one of my sessions in Edinburgh earlier this year and the plan of taking a training day to Arran seemed so unlikely I knew back then that I simply had to find a way to make it work.

Early start

Thank you, Rob! 

Rob very kindly provided all of the expert knowledge and assistance required to get me from Glasgow to The Isle of Arran, looking after me every step of the way. 

Breakfast on Arran - 'The Full Scottish'

In fact I experienced many great acts of kindness during my time on Arran, with people going out of their way to help me. Thank you especially to Rob, Howard and Eleanor for the lifts and excellent company. The journey required cars, a jeep, trains and a return trip on the ferry but it was definitely worth it all to establish full chess contact with the island and to meet and work with such fabulous people.

Thank you, Fiona!
The training day venue was Whiting Bay Primary Primary. Shirley Maclachlan is the Headteacher and she is also the Head of Brodick, Corrie, Kilmory, Pirnmill, Shiskine - six of the island's seven primary schools!

The school looks out directly onto the bay, providing a beautiful backdrop for the children and staff the whole year round.

All six schools now have chess equipment, courtesy of CSC, and now we have a significant number of people who have experienced one of our training days we can look forward to progress being made with chess on the Isle of Arran in the near future.

I didn't want to leave - but I do want to return
It made for an excellent start to my tour of Scotland. Despite the very long day, sleep was kept away on the night time thanks to so many exciting ideas buzzing around in my mind. What else could we achieve...? The next three days provided plenty of answers.

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