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Your inspiration

The following accounts illustrate the inspiration and positive impact of 2014 on the people of East Ayrshire and the lasting legacy for future generations. If you wish to be featured on this page then please contact us.

Watch inspirational videos of local sports people who will help provide a lasting legacy for future generations.

Ayrshire Gymnastics

Gemma Thomson, Head Coach at Ayrshire Gymnastics has commented on how her club has been inspired by the Commonwealth Games and the Legacy work that has been carried out in East Ayrshire.

“We have most definitely been inspired by the Commonwealth games at our club. We have had a great interest in our club from new members of all ages-we just can't fit them in at the moment!  Because gymnastics was well publicised by the TV coverage and our national governing body, the general public seem to have shown a real interest.  I would also add that we have had a lot more interest from boys since the summer.  It's a shame that gymnastics is perceived to be a girls sport in this country-it is most definitely not in other countries.  

Our senior gymnasts also had something to look up to as well-seeing the high level of performance in Glasgow has helped them improve their own performances on the competition floor. I personally loved watching the live performances as I managed to get tickets to the hydro during the games and has proved to be valuable for our athletes in seeing what it takes to compete in one of the biggest competitions in world sport”.

Mark Bennett, Scotland Rugby Squad and Commonwealth Games Athlete

Mark joined Cumnock Rugby Club at a young age and early on it was evident that he was destined to reach the top demonstrating a natural ability greater than his peers.

After a successful period at Cumnock Rugby Club progressing through the ranks he signed for Ayr Rugby Club where he again demonstrated that he had the potential to develop further in the game. In his first season at Ayr Rugby Club they won the Scottish Premiership 2011. This led to Mark making his senior debut at Glasgow Warriors before becoming one of the few Scottish players to play professionally in France when he joined ASM Clermont Auvergne. In 2012 he re-joined Glasgow Warriors on loan before making the move a permanent, where he is now playing some of his best rugby.

His development in the sport is clear having represented Scotland at Under 18 and Under 20 level. He has also represented Scotland at the 2011, 2012 & 2013 IRB Junior World Championships. In 2014 he achieved something that he dreamed of and something that propelled Mark into stardom locally and nationally when he represented Scotland at the Commonwealth Games Rugby 7's tournament where he scored 4 tries and 20 points.

In 2015 he made his 6 Nations debut when he started against France in their narrow defeat however it was widely recognised that Mark was one of the star performers on the park and was in inspired form and did not look out of pace against so many regulars. He has done East Ayrshire and his home town of Cumnock very proud with his fantastic achievements!

Sophie Smyth – Commonwealth Athlete, Weightlifting

Sophie applied to work on the Vibrant Communities Bank Register because her cousin and fellow Team Scotland Athlete Georgi Black had encouraged her to and it looked like something she would enjoy. Sophie was selected for the Talented Athlete Support Programme (TASP) which has helped her train and compete across the UK and the world. ‘The TASP helps me with competition entry fees, travel, accommodation, and equipment.’ As the Commonwealth Games approached training stepped up a gear and being a part of the TASP allowed Sophie to mix work and training. The flexibility Vibrant Communities gave her allowed her to train full-time during the final few weeks prior to the games. 

“To represent Scotland was amazing, a life changing experience…my next aim is to compete in the Scottish and British Championships and the next 2018 Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast.” 

Vibrant Communities TASP has and continues to support local Athletes like Sophie Smyth on the world stage!

Frank Maguire, Archer

In 1996 during his time in the Forces in Northern Ireland, Frank was in the wrong place and the wrong time when a backpack containing explosives went off.  Left with 2 artificial knee joints and damaged quad nerves that made him permanently disabled, Frank had to get used to using a stick for balance and also a wheelchair.  When interviewing Frank, age 55 said he could “come to terms physically with what happened but he found it mentally gruelling and felt his integrity had been taken away”.  He discovered at a later stage that he was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) when his focus and concentration had been destroyed.

For a few years Frank struggled with feelings of shame and negativity before realising he needed to do something and shake himself out of the black hole he had found himself in.  Knowing from his days in the Forces that he was good at rifle shooting, Frank decided to take up archery and bought a compound bow and arrows.  Frank soon discovered that he needed help to learn more about the sport and went along to the beginner class at Ayr Archery Club. The tuition and advice he received proved invaluable and Frank was committed to improving his technique and strived to be the best he could. Franks game improved and was soon competing for the Ayr club in local tournaments and slowly but surely gaining success.   

As Franks ambitions grew he wanted to take his game to the next level and through competing was introduced to Alistair Whitingham, sports psychologist from Edinburgh University. Alistair soon became Franks coach and through hard work and dedication Frank made the Scottish Archery Squad.  

Asked what he would say to people, able-bodied or otherwise that are interested in taking up a sport but scared at the thought, he simply says “walk through the door.  That’s the hardest part but people admire you for having the courage to turn up and give a sport a go.  You might find out that you have an aptitude for something you didn’t know you had – you don’t know till you try”.  Frank is the first to admit that it isn’t easy trying something for the first time, especially when you are feeling vulnerable but he has found a passion and you could find yours.

Ewen Logie, Stewarton

"After being inspired by the Olympic Games in London I decided to exercise every day between the end of London 2012 and the beginning of Glasgow 2014. I realised that my chances of being a competitor at any such games were slim however I began to raise money for SportsAid Scotland (formerly Scottish Sports Aid) in order that my efforts could help some of the aspiring young athletes who the charity support. I created a strict set of rules to follow for the 700 plus days during my challenge period which involves 5 vigorous sessions per week (half hour minimum), 1 moderate session per week (1 hour minimum) and one muscle strengthening session per week (half hour minimum.) To keep myself fit (and injury free) I have tried to vary my activities which have mostly included running, cycling, swimming, circuits, football and tennis however I have also set myself monthly challenges and have participated in a sprint triathlon, 10k, half marathon, as well as charity football, rugby, tennis and curling matches. On one occasion I stepped quite far outside my comfort zone and participated in a charity Zumbathon.

Thursday, 13 February marks my 550th consecutive day of exercise and over the coming months I have a number of other challenges in the pipeline. Firstly, I will be digging out my running spikes and heading down to the Ayrshire Athletics Arena where I will attempt to beat the athletics times which I set when I was 17. In the meantime I am also organising a charity 7-a-side football tournament in March and in the near future I will be attending The Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome as I attempt to pass each stage of the cycling accreditation process. Although my daily challenge will run until the start of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow I aim to run my first marathon at Loch Ness in September 2014 which will be a fitting grand finale to two years of training.

My motivation to exercise through all types of conditions and circumstances has come to me from various different angles. Initially, I wanted to set a good example to my family, and in particular to my two kids. Now, when I see them enjoying a variety of sports and activities as much as I do, it really spurs me on to reach my goal. Equally, through my sporting challenge, I have met some really motivated and inspirational people along the way and I try to tap into their energy to keep that momentum going. Finally, the challenge has made me feel fitter than ever and, having managed to avoid the usual bugs which do the rounds, I am convinced that this comes as a result of my programme of exercise.

The challenge has changed my attitude to exercise in a really positive way.  With some minor tweaks to our weekly schedule I have hopefully managed to strike a good balance and fit all my exercise in without impinging on family life too much. We are lucky that we have some great facilities and outdoor spaces in East Ayrshire so if you want to find an opportunity to exercise then it is available at little or no cost. Prior to my challenge I would have been more likely to look for excuses rather than opportunities however after the Commonwealth Games it would be an ambition of mine to undertake training to become a fitness instructor myself and encourage more people to keeping active.

I hope that the legacy of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow will benefit our communities for years to come with investment in sporting facilities and increased sporting participation, which has its obvious health benefits. In the meantime I will keep pulling on the running shoes on a daily basis and participating in fundraising events which will hopefully allow me to reach my donation target. ( )"

Peter Kirkbride, Weightlifter

"Representing Scotland at the 2014 Commonwealth Games is going to be really special. I have competed at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi and 2012 London Olympics but to compete on home soil in front of my family, friends and fans will be truly unforgettable."

Georgi Black, Weightlifter

"This will be my debut in competing for Scotland in a global event and for it to be in Glasgow is amazing. I have trained so hard with my focus being on Glasgow 2014 and it is now only a few months away. I hope to do everyone who has supported me proud."

Kelsey Caldow, Volunteer

Five years ago my family and I joined the MEND programme in East Ayrshire because I knew I needed help to live a healthier and fitter life.  Through MEND I have been supported to undertake young leadership training and become a volunteer, I have enjoyed helping at various kid's clubs and other activities in the community.

This year, I applied and got an interview to be a volunteer at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, within the Press Operations sector. I could never have imagined doing this 5 years ago. I hope to hear good news from them soon but for now I'm just really looking forward to the games beginning."

Alan Jardine, Swimmer and Olympic Torchbearer

I have competed in and won a number of events for the Kilmarnock Jets Swimming Club at local and regional competitions and for Scotland West in the Special Olympics as well as other national events but being selected as an Olympic Torchbearer was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I will never forget. I still have the torch on display in the house. I feel that I have an important role in helping the new athletes that join the club."

Chick Hamilton, Coach

What a year ahead of us. Kilmarnock Amateur Weightlifting Club should be making up the Scottish Weightlifting Team and what an achievement that is. I am so proud of every single one of my lifters and with the support of everyone in East Ayrshire I am sure we will come home again with medals."

Alan Girvan, Sportsperson and Volunteer

"I am 17 years old; I have lived in Montgomery House Residential Unit for almost 5 years. I like lots of sports but my favourite is swimming. I have gone to the Jets Swimming Club for 4 years now.

I have taken part in lots of galas and competitions - won lots of medals and go to training every week. Now I'm a bit older I help the younger people who have joined the club.  I also volunteer at lots of other activities and events, like the Olympic Torch Relay event in 2012. I really enjoy volunteering, it has helped me to feel confident and good about myself and it's really nice to meet lots of new people and friends. No one ever makes fun of me when I do the activities and I can be myself."

Kieran McMaster, Boxing Champion

The teenager is the current 16-year-old Scottish Amateur Boxing Champion, British Silver Medallist and Amateur Scottish Internationalist. He fights for his local club, Northwest Amateur Boxing club. A full time student, he also assists the coaches with the beginners boxing class. A role model for other youngsters, he is passionate about training and passing on his boxing knowledge to others.  Kieran is part of the Vibrant Communities Talented Athlete Support Programme, represented at National level and is a finalist for the Young Scot 2014 Awards.

John Doolan, McConnell Roofing

"When people think of the Commonwealth Games they automatically connect it with sport and top athletes, and that is absolutely right, but there are so many other benefits.

From our point of view, the business opportunities that have come out of Glasgow winning the Games are a major boost. As a company, we have a strong reputation locally and nationally, we have over 20 years experience and consider ourselves to be major suppliers of roofing solutions in the UK but economically times are hard so the opportunity to bid for a Games contract, on a development the size of Glasgow Athletes Village, came at a great time and we were delighted to win it.

The honour of being part of one of Scotland's biggest ever sporting events is one thing, but we hope that our excellent work on the Athletes Village project will also bring us more business opportunities in the future - and that will be a lasting legacy for us."

Kilmarnock Flower Club

To coincide with the opening of the XXth Commonwealth Games, a Flower Festival organised by the Scottish Association of Flower Arrangement Societies (SAFAS) will take place in the historic setting of Glasgow Cathedral. The opening service of thanksgiving for the games will take place on Tuesday 22 July at 7pm and thereafter, the Festival will be open to the public on Wednesday 23 & Thursday 24 July from 9.30am–5.30pm and admission is free.

The title of the Festival is "Roots, Shoots and Fruits" and it will be a celebration of our cultural heritage (Roots), how we have gone out into the world as pioneers and innovators (Shoots) and our achievements (Fruits). 

Kilmarnock Flower Club in partnership with Vibrant Communities East Ayrshire will be taking part in the Festival. In total, 70 clubs throughout Scotland will be creating magnificent displays in the Cathedral and many members of the local community are already planning their visit. For anyone interested in history, floral art or horticulture a visit to the Commonwealth Flower Festival in Glasgow Cathedral will be an experience not to be missed. 

Kilmarnock Flower Club was founded on 24 March 1960 with the inaugural meeting being held in the Temperance Hall, Sturrock Street. The club has now been in existence for 54 years and in 2015 will be celebrating its Emerald Anniversary with a very special event being planned to mark this momentous occasion.

Over the years, the club has raised money for many charities, including Christian Aid, the Red Cross, Hansel Village, Cancer Research and Guide Dogs for the Blind. Club members have also helped raise money for many local churches through Flower Festivals and events, with the most recent being a memorable "Floral Serenade" in Henderson Church (now Kay Park Parish Church).

Many of the members have competed very successfully in flower shows both locally and nationally, with the club winning a silver medal at the Royal Horticultural Society Show at Ingliston in 2013 for its beautiful exhibit entitled "Easter Parade". Kilmarnock is also a past winner of the Dean Trophy at Ayr Flower Show and this year the club will represent SAFAS in the Golden Rose Class at the show in August.

The club meets at 7.30pm on the second last Thursday of the months from September until June in Hurlford Community Centre. The annual subscription is £35 for 10 meetings, but visitors are very welcome to come along to any meeting for £5. The club is open to men and women of all ages and this session, the 82 members and their friends have enjoyed floral art demonstrations by both areas and national demonstrators, a Christmas evening with sherry, shortbread and mince pies and in February a wonderful demonstration by our own club members who created a variety of arrangements using flowers from local supermarkets. 

There is no need to be a flower arranger to become a member of our very friendly club. A love of flowers is all that is required. So… if you would enjoy a relaxing evening with friends watching beautiful flowers being arranged then the Kilmarnock Flower Club is the place for you. For further information please contact Aileen on 01563 533687. 

Contact Information

Vibrant Communities
Telephone: 01563 576354
Telephone: 01563 578124