Swimming Well Represented at LDS Annual Awards

The sport of swimming was well recognised at the recent Lothian Disability Sport (LDS) Annual Awards ceremony, securing three out of the six awards with a special recognition honour going to an experienced para swimming coach.

The Annual LDS Awards were held at Norton Park Conference Centre, Edinburgh on Monday 26th June and continue to recognise the considerable achievements and tireless work that athletes, coaches, volunteers, teams and clubs demonstrate throughput the sporting season.

The introduction to the evening were delivered by LDS Chair Helen Bruce who highlighted some of the key success stories over 2016, including some of the memorable performances in Rio for local athletes including Maria Lyle, Stephen Clegg and Scott Quin – and it was the swimmer from Loanhead who was recognised for that remarkable silver medal at the Paralympic Games in Brazil as he was awarded the Senior Sports Person of the Year for the third time.  Ex Lothian Racers swimmer Quin (27) was present to pick up his award from ex-paralympic multi medallist Jim Anderson OBE and this was just the beginning of the Midlothian club link as current Racers swimmers Neil Ferguson and Sam Downie were selected as the joint recipients of the Junior Sports Person of the Year Award.  Ferguson (15) and Downie (11) have both developed tremendously over the last 12 months, increasing training volume through additional sessions with Musselburgh ASC and being invited along to the East Regional Swim Squad to support their development as para swimmers.  This undoubted potential, coupled with both swimmers desire and determination culminated in them each receiving a classification at the end of the swimming season, providing further opportunities for development next season.

A major influencing factor for all of these swimmers was experienced coach Don McFarlane who has worked closely with a huge number of individuals with a disability and supported them to achieve their aspirations as para swimmers.  Midlothian man McFarlane has recently made the decision to take a step back from his position as head coach at key local disability club Lothian Racers, marking the end of a 20 year relationship with the club.  McFarlane’s knowledge and experience will be missed across the whole region and this was recognised as he received a well-deserved Special Achievement Award.

The Award winners from a swimming background continued as Lorna Forbes was recognised for her considerable time and effort towards the development of the Rainbow Squad, the disability section of Livingston & District Dolphins ASC.  The Rainbow Squad offer opportunities to swimmers of all ages, abilities and level of impairment as they coordinate and run a learn to swim programme and a ‘competitive’ squad which supports and prepares swimmers for the experience of local and regional competitions.  At the hub of this excellent work is Lorna Forbes who has been involved with the Rainbow Squad since its inception around 8 years ago, ensuring all swimmers are provided with the support they require to continue their development in the pool.

Bucking the swimming trend were No Limits (Multi Sports) and Team United (Football), winners of the Club of the Year and Endeavour Award respectively.  No Limits, who have been awarded the LDS Award on three previous occasions, continue to offer an extensive range of opportunities for children and young people with a disability through their Saturday morning multi-sport session and their dedicated boccia session.  The West Lothian club also continue to attract funding from external sources to offer residential opportunities for their members.  Team United were recognised for their introduction to the disability sport landscape as they successfully launched a football session for young people with autism in Edinburgh.  The session has introduced players to the sport and the team environment, developing a range of social skills alongside the physical competencies of the sport and were rewarded for its success through the LDS Endeavour Award.

The final award was presented to promising Wheelchair Tennis Player Rauiri Logan as the youngster from Edinburgh received the Jim Anderson OBE Bursary.  This cash award is presented to a young athlete from the Edinburgh and Lothian region who is showing considerable potential in their chosen sport and Logan (15) continues to develop and produce results that very much place him in this category.  The former Winning Wheels Wheelchair Tennis ace is benefiting from working closely with ex Paralympic player turned coach Kevin Simpson and has served up success in tournaments across Great Britain and Europe over the last 12 months, including last year’s School Games and competitions in Belgium and Italy in 2017.

Senior Sports Person Scott Quin (Swimming)
Junior Sports Person Neil Ferguson and Sam Downie (both Swimming)
Club/Team No Limits (Multi Sports)
Coach/Volunteer Loran Forbes (Livingston & District Dolphins ASC – Rainbow Squad)
Endeavour Award Team United (Football)
Jim Anderson Bursary Ruari Logan (Wheelchair Tennis)
Special Achievement Don McFarlane (Swimming)