AN 89-YEAR-OLD curling champ who helped propel Rhona Martin to Olympic glory has been banned from the club he founded.

John Stevenson has been told he is no longer welcome at the Greenacres curling rink, in Howwood.

He angered the club’s owner by attempting to take his wheelchair onto the rink after he was warned not to, as it was an apparent health and safety risk.

However, the club’s website states it has recently undergone refurbishment to make it “fully accessible” for wheelchair users.

The pensioner was still curling up until a year ago but had to give it up after 75 years as he is suffering from bone cancer and can’t walk unaided.

He had hoped to be able to continue to enjoy the sport in his wheelchair.

But his actions have led to him being banned not only from the rink, but the entire club, which he sold off in 1999.

In a letter, addressed to Mr Stevenson’s son Matthew, club owner Richard Harding said: “I am under a legal obligation to ensure that Greenacres complies with the required standards of Health and Safety.

“By paying no attention to my appointed staff, he cannot any longer attend Greenacres. Just to be clear, that means he should no longer come to Greenacres at any time.”

Mr Stevenson set up Greenacres in 1979 and led countless players to national and international championship wins, including Ms Martin, whom he trained as a junior.

An all-Scots team, led by Martin, secured Great Britain’s first Winter Games gold medals since Torvill and Dean in 1984 after defeating Switzerland in the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Mr Stevenson’s son Matthew, who owns Linburn Farm, in Erskine, said: “I understand that the owner was annoyed about him taking his chair onto the rink but to ban him from the whole club?

“It’s very, very sad and rather draconian.”

“To ban an old man, who is in his last days and devoted his life to curling, without so much as a warning letter.

“My mother passed away two years ago. It got him out of the house.

He added: “Back in the day, my dad was a curler of some repute. He changed the face of curling in the UK. He set up Greenacres in 1979, built it himself and had about 2,000 members. It was very, very successful.

“He won the world juniors five times, won lots of Scottish championships.

“If you wanted to win championships, you went to Greenacres.

“Rhona Martin was one of his juniors. He made it a fun sport for kids, charged just £1 a game.”

Mr Harding declined to comment when approached by The Gazette.