School sports: Mary Erskine girls shining

Catherine McHardy, Esme Stewart, Katy Smith, Abby Orr and Niamh Ritchie are all making a big impression. Picture: Jane Barlow
Catherine McHardy, Esme Stewart, Katy Smith, Abby Orr and Niamh Ritchie are all making a big impression. Picture: Jane Barlow
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Mary Erskine School pupils Abby Orr, Niamh Ritchie and Katy Smith enjoyed a fine end to the term on the sporting front.

One week they were swimming (along with Hannah Ewing) to victory in the medley and freestyle relays at Brodies Scottish Schools Team Championships at the Royal Commonwealth Pool, the next they enjoyed a chance to get some tips from Olympic 800m runner Lynsey Sharp. Sharp visited her old school in the guise of an Alfa Romeo Home Hero and a whole bunch of first and second year pupils benefited from her insight. “Athletics is a big part of the school sporting activities,” said PE teacher Graeme Blackhall. “We have a 400m track, a discus net and facilities for shot putt, javelin, long jump and high jump. The first and second years train once a week and we have a lot of fixtures against other schools.”

Sharp, who won the European Championship last year, fondly remembers her days at Mary Erskine. “I had great fun here and it’s lovely to be back,” said the 22-year-old.

One of the group could be set to follow in her footsteps. Second year pupil Esme Stewart trains with Edinburgh Athletics Club and is a talented 800m runner. Her three older sisters – Emily, Louisa and Rosanna – are also carving out impressive careers in the sport. Due to injury, Esme missed out on a place in the Edinburgh Schools’ team, but sprinter Catherine McHardy, a first year pupil, was included. For the three swimmers, a busy summer lies ahead.

For Niamh, who competes for Warrender, the pool sport will take priority once again when she competes in this month’s British Age-Group Championships in Sheffield.

Douglas Ewart High pupils dip in to back safety drive

SWIMMING: Pupils and staff at Douglas Ewart High School are making a splash at Merrick Leisure Centre, Newton Stewart, by taking part in water safety activities during the Scottish Summer Safety and Drowning Prevention campaign.

Using activities and resources provided by Scottish Swimming and the Royal Lifesaving Society UK, the school and leisure centre will be running fun and interactive water safety activities for primary (P7) and secondary (S1) school children

Mike McCann, Teacher of Physical Education at the school said: “More than 400 people drown in the UK each year, and thousands suffer near-drowning experiences.

“We are happy to support Scottish Swimming and RLSS Scotland to reduce these numbers by informing swimmers about how to be safe in, on, or near water, while offering what we think will be a fun afternoon for our pupils.”

Forbes Dunlop, chief executive of Scottish Swimming said: “We want everyone to be able to enjoy the pleasure of swimming and water activities over the summer and also remain safe.

“Swimming is an activity suitable for people of all ages, all sizes and all abilities, whether using this hugely popular sport for fun, fitness or for all round health and wellbeing.

“It is vital that children are taught to swim in order that they may feel confident and safe in and around water and throughout their developing years – and for mums and dads it’s never too late to learn!”

Andy Mayor, a GB International and Commonwealth Games swimmer, was at the launch last Friday.

“I am delighted to be here supporting this essential campaign,” he said. “Having a good understanding of water safety is just as important as being able to swim

“As the summer holidays approach we are all committed to raising awareness of water safety in a variety of water location whether it is lochs, rivers, at the beach or in a pool.”

Various activities will take place during the session, including various types to rescue, basic lifesaving techniques, CPR, and snorkelling.

St Peter’s earn award success

FOOTBALL: St Peter the Apostle High School, beaten on penalties for the Scottish Under-16 Shield, won the latest Lloyds TSB Scotland School of the Month Award.

The award was given in recognition of the school’s fantastic performances in Lloyds TSB Scotland competitions this season across the age groups in the boys’ and girls’ game.

William Hamilton, manager at Lloyds TSB Scotland Clydebank branch, said: “Congratulations to St Peter the Apostle School for winning the Lloyds TSB Scotland School of the Month Award.

“The children are a credit to the school and I’m delighted that their ability and commitment has been recognised.”

Mark Ferrier, football co-ordinator at the school, said: “I’m proud that the efforts of our young players have been recognised with a national award.”

Hill caps Merchiston rise

GOLF: Merchiston Castle’s Calum Hill travelled south last week having already won the Independent Schools’ Golf Association Scottish Open and British Championships.

He completed the hat-trick with a terrific win in The Shire Trophy at The Shire Golf course in London.

The result put him to No 1 in the ISGA individual rankings for the 2012/2-13 season – Merchiston were fourth and top Scottish school in the team list.

After double bogeying his first hole and then making another at the sixth the Tantallon youngster birdies the seven out of 11 holes from the eight and shot a three-under-par 69 to win by one shot from England boy internationalist George Mullins

Merchiston Castle, coached by Alan Murdoch at Kings Acre, also won the Under-14 ISGA Junior Cup net team title at the same venue.

The only Scotish team taking part, the tiro of Kayau Siu, Jamie Boyd and Ronan Dowds earned the honours. Ronan completed a great day by claiming the Individual title with a net 68. “I am so proud of all our boys,” said Murdoch. “It has been a really great session.”

Massy’s Newtomore link recalled

GOLF: In 1907, Arnaud Massy became the first non-British player to win the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool. Two years later, the Frenchman paid a visit to Newtonmore Golf Club.

Recalling that visit and helping to mark the 25th anniversary of the European Challenge Tour, Tour Director Alain De Soultrait and French professionals Francois Calmels and Edouard Dubois popped into the Highland club to learn more about Massy’s Newtonmore connection.

Massy is credited with aiding the growth in popularity of golf throughout mainland Europe and his Open victory remained the only one by a continental until Seve Ballesteros’ triumphed in 1979.

Massy made the journey to Newtonmore in 1909 to play an exhibition match against fellow professional Charles Mayo, both men breaking the, then, course record – Massy with a 69 to Mayo’s 68. The match drew huge crowds.

“The club really appreciated the European Challenge Tour coming to our golf club,” said Mark Foster, Newtonmore’s Junior Covenor. “They gave the pupils some great tips and we took them to watch the play at the Scottish Hydro Challenge at Macdonald Spey Valley.

Jan Felshie, Head Teacher at Newtonmore Primary School, said: “The children had fun and I felt that it was a great opportunity for the school to make closer links with the golf club.”

Newtonmore isn’t Massy’s only Scottish connection. He is buried in Newington Cemetery in Edinburgh, where a new headstone was erected earlier this year after his final resting place was tracked down after many years of neglect.