THE Irish Curling Association is immensely proud tonight of our secretary and good friend Bill Gray, who becomes a Member of the British Empire in the King’s Birthday Honours.
Bill has been recognised with the Honour for his sterling work as Chairman of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland, for services to Agriculture, to Charity and to the community in Scotland.
Bill said tonight: “To say that I am incredibly honoured and humbled to have received this award is a massive understatement.
“It is as much for the incredible people that I have worked with through my agricultural career as it is for me and I will be forever grateful for their support.”
Bill (above) during his term as Chairman of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland.
Bill’s citation reads:
William (Bill) Gerald Gray MBE, 63 years old, Midlothian
Chairman, Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland. For services to Agriculture, to Charity and to the community in Scotland
● In 2019, he was appointed Chairman of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland, following 4 terms as a volunteer Director, 14 years as a director and 3 as chair.
● Joining RHASS he has brought a board of 59 trustees and 16,000 memberships.
● Due to Covid-19 the Highland Centre Ltd was closed meaning that £1.5M of the charity’s income was lost. Under his efforts, an unprecedented fundraising campaign was developed raising over £600,000 in record time.
● He was then recognised by independent consultants as leading one of the fastest and most successful membership campaigns ever.
● The society has seen huge financial losses during the pandemic, however he single-handedly brought in revenue to the site from a public company which raised over £700,000 income over two years.
● He did this while he was a full-time employee of a farming business of 660 hectares and many estate diversifications while also supporting all activities of DEFRA.
● He was a project director of the new membership pavilion at the Royal Highland Centre which received a very positive response when used at this year’s Royal Highland Show.
● In 2021 he met with the government and stakeholders and worked very hard with his team to help take RHS online. In under 80 days, the Society delivered 7 days of 12 hours of action from behind closed doors, reaching over 100 countries which put RHSS back on the map.
● He was later recognised as Arable Farmer of the Year in Scotland in 2021.
● He plays an instrumental part in the development of new farming talents. He partnered with a neighbouring farm to become one of the Scottish Government Monitor Farm projects, where he worked alongside a young farm manager to help develop a highly successful project regularly attracting between 60-100 farmers to share best practice.
● It went onto being Farmers Weekly Farm Manager of the year.
● In June 2022, the RHS returned where he delivered one of the most important shows in history.
● He is also a supporter of the Royal Highland Education Trust, a charity that opens rural Scotland to thousands of schoolchildren.
● He has delivered significant improvements to the farming estate, diversifying business, adopting renewable technologies, developing new income streams, and driving innovation.
● He is Director and Former Chair of the Lothian Machinery ring coop, which works to save farmers money through pooling of resources and combined buying power.
● He was instrumental in establishing routes to economies of scale and commercial buying power.
● He was the Past Chair of Dalkeith Show, a show in Midlothian which promotes food and farming to the local community, he also served his local community as a community councillor.
WELL DONE BILL AND HEARTY CONGRATULATIONS FROM ALL ICA MEMBERS!
BOTH Irish teams at the world seniors in South Korea exited the competition at the quarter-finals stage yesterday.
The women had a hell of a battle with the Japanese team, with Irish skip facing a tricky draw to the pin for the win after the Japanese skip’s last stone, which was supposed to be a guard, crept into the house to sit just behind the pin. Dale’s stone was a foot too heavy and, despite frantic sweeping to curl it over on top of the shot, rubbed off it and to the side.
The game had been carefully managed by the Irish to ensure last stone in the last end. But the first end looked like going horribly wrong when the Japanese, who had hammer, looked like getting four. Thankfully the good hitting skills of the Irish, with a crucial last double take-out from Dale changed the end and the Japanese decided to blank. They then took a single in the second end
After taking a two in the third and forcing the single in the fourth, the Irish blanked the fifth and took a well worked two in the sixth. In the seventh, the plan was to force again but a couple of missed hits left Japan an easy draw for two.
In the last, Japan got guards up that the Irish could not get rid of but the path to the four foot was open at the end. Unfortunately, the Japanese got in there first, albeit unintentionally.
The Irish men on the next sheet came off worst in a bruising encounter with Canada.
IRELAND women ended the group stages of the world seniors with a 5-4 win over Australia that sees them finish on a 4-2 win/loss record and third place in Group B behind Scotland and Switzerland.
The girls got off to a good start stealing and one then a two in the first two ends but the Australians were gutsy and kept a barrage of guards and tee weight draws coming at the Irish who had to be patient and wait for the chances to come.
Peels going into the last end, a superb double clear from Bernie Gillett left the four foot open. Australia tried one more guard and Dale Sinclair drew back four with her first stone.
When Aussie skip Kim Forge caught her own guard with her first the game was over. Ireland’s women now face Japan in the quarter-finals at 1pm Korean time tomorrow, while Ireland’s men, who also got through today with a victory over Norway, face Canada.
IRELAND’S senior women qualified for the quarter-finals of the world seniors last night after they beat Latvia in the afternoon and Finland lost in the evening, meaning the Irish were in third place in their group behind Scotland and Switzerland.
The game against the Latvians went the way of the Irish with steals of two in the first and second end. The team had their shooting boots on and made sure the Latvians were limited to singles.
Keeping it clean in the last end, Bernie Gillett secured the victory with a cracking double take out to run the Latvians out of stones.
THE Irish women lost to Scotland yesterday afternoon but then had to regroup early this morning to grind out an extra end victory over Finland.
Against the Scottish women, the loss of a four was the turning point in a game that saw both teams get into a hitting contest over the first three ends. But after the four, Ireland just got one more shot before the Scots scores a two and a three in the seventh.
This morning against the Finns, the Irish seemed to be in a good position towards the end of the game but the Finnish skip, Tiina Julkunen played some terrific shots under pressure to keep her team alive and it all came down to an extra end. This time skip Tiina missed her draw with her first stone, and as Ireland were lying two, Irish skip Dale didn’t need to play her last stone.
The women play Latvia tomorrow afternoon at 4pm Korean time. The women are currently joint third in the group on two wins and two losses.
IRELAND women lost to Switzerland today at noon in a game that saw the team struggle to get draw weight in the first four ends, and then find it again in the last four.
The Swiss seemed to have the game won when then scored a four in the fifth end just after the half time break to go 7-1 ahead, but the Irish dug deep and got a two in the sixth end to keep the game alive. The Irish then put a clutch of good solid draw together in the seventh, and a great draw from Dale – and a huge sweep from Bernie – to keep it straight on swingy ice saw a three score against the head to leave the team going into the last end one down without. However, despite good stone placement again by Ireland, the Swiss skip was left facing two Irish shots when she went to play her last stone. One back four and one back eight and a guard in place for good measure. To her credit, and hats off to her sweepers, who dragged her shot into the four foot to get the win.
IRELAND’S women’s senior team got the win today against Czech Republic in bizarre circumstances when the Czechs ran out of time in the eighth and final end.
The Irish were 6-1 up at the fourth end break after losing a one in the first end, then scoring a two and stealing successive twos, But loose shots from all four in the seventh let the Czechs back in. But one up with hammer the Irish were looking good for the win when the timeclocks handed it to them without skip Dale Sinclair having to play her last stone.
The Czechs are new to senior international competition so every day’s a school day was the most appropriate phrase. However, the on ice angst was soon replaced by friendly banter over a few Korean beers as the rookies were introduced to post-game cameraderie by the Irish ladies.
Irish women will play Switzerland at noon tomorrow out here in Gangneung, South Korea.