ONE of South Lanarkshire’s leading disability sports performers died last week following a short illness.
Blackwood man Charles Russell was for many years active in wheelchair sport and was well-known in Scotland and the UK for his prowess in bowls and curling.
Charles started his wheelchair sport activities through carpet bowls, but was active in developing opportunities for people within indoor bowling clubs and at an international level.
In recent years he helped South Lanarkshire Disability Sport to promote curling opportunities for wheelchair users at East Kilbride ice rink.
When great enthusiasm was shown for the project, a South Lanarkshire Wheelchair Curling Club was formed and, through his driving force as chairman and excellent co-operation with Lanarkshire Ice Rink in Hamilton, the club now has over 30 members.
Charles was also involved in the campaign for wheelchair users to be given an opportunity to play outdoor bowls through the recent innovation of special wheelchairs which give access onto greens.
His projects included a partnership with Red Deer Bowling Club in East Kilbride, setting up a base for South Lanarkshire Wheelchair Bowls, and inviting Scotland’s leading wheelchair bowlers to the South Lanarkshire Singles Classic, Scotland’s leading outdoor bowls tournament.
Millar Stoddart, secretary of South Lanarkshire Disability Sport, said: “In addition to Charlie being motivated for opportunities in sport for wheelchair users, he himself was an excellent competitor at the top level.
“He was the Scottish Outdoor Wheelchair Singles Bowls champion at the World Championship Bowls venue of Westburn, Aberdeen, in 2002 and 2004.”
Mr Stoddart added: “Prior to the championship double, however, he received his first international honour in 1987 when he was chosen to represent Scotland in the Home Internationals, an event in which he regularly played and only several years ago played an important role in bringing the British International Team Championships to East Kilbride and South Lanarkshire.
“The highlight of his many years in bowls was being selected to play in the 2004 World Championships in Malaysia, although his major achievement was undoubtedly winning a gold medal at the World Championships in Spain in 2002.”
Mr Stoddart added: “Charlie will be sadly missed in South Lanarkshire and nationally in the world of sport.
“His legacy will be a lot of good projects that are going on in South Lanarkshire for wheelchair users.”
Charles’s funeral was held at South Lanarkshire Crematorium, Blantyre, on Tuesday.
Hamilton Advertiser, 12th Mach 2009