By Ben Cornwell

My only experience of curling comes from watching the odd clips of the sport in the Winter Olympics. This year’s games in February would suggest that Britain is generally quite good at the sport. Our only two medals in Beijing came from the men’s and women’s curling. When I heard that sessions were running in St Leonards, I just had to go and see what all the fuss was about.

The taster sessions were running as part of the Royal Voluntary Service’s First Time for Everything programme – encouraging over 55s to stay active and try new things. Rather than the traditional game on ice, we played an adaptation called New Age Kurling which can be played indoors on any smooth, flat surface. The aim of the game remains the same: to get your stones as close to the centre of the target as possible.

CREDIT: Ben Cornwell

Over 20 people gathered at the Robsack Community Centre for the afternoon sessions, so we were split into two groups. While the first group started, everyone else was free to have a chat and enjoy the refreshments and sandwiches on offer. Everyone was very welcoming and friendly throughout the session, and I found curling to be an enjoyable experience. Based on my performance in the matches, I definitely will not be going pro any time soon. Despite noticing how easily the stones could slide across the community centre floor, I couldn’t quite get to grips with how much power was needed. I either used too much force and missed the target by miles or not enough and ended up hitting the opposing team’s stones closer to the target.

Don’t worry if you missed out on this month’s sessions; there are a variety of activities on the horizon, including first aid training, Pilates, family history/ancestry and a special tea tasting masterclass in the Old Town. One of the benefits of the programme and activities is that there is no obligation to come to every session; you can just book the ones that take your fancy.

Royal Voluntary Service activity coordinator Rachel Rich says that they get a real mixture of people coming along to the different activities, both regulars and newbies.

“Some people are there because they really want to learn a new skill. Others are there for the social element, which I think is equally important. We always have tea, coffee and sandwiches after an activity so that there is time for a chat.”

She added, “I think it is essential as you get older, particularly for your mental wellbeing, to keep trying new things and staying connected socially.”

For those unable to make the in-person activities, Royal Voluntary Service has designed the Virtual Village Hall, an online activity hub for the community. The site has over 600 free sessions available to view on-demand, with new content added regularly.

For more information, visit

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