Ceremony brings tears, laughs

KIRK PENTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:24 AM ET

The opening ceremony of the provincial senior men's curling championship featured just as many chuckles as it did tears.

This year's event, which began yesterday at Fort Rouge Curling Club, is dedicated to the memory of Brandon sportsman Neil Andrews, a two-time winner of the event who passed away on Saturday after a battle with Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease.

Andrews' wife Heather, brother Darryl, son Nate, daughter Tara, parents Bud and Doreen, and two of his former teammates -- Jim Horn and Doug Carvey -- came in from Brandon to take part in last night's emotional ceremony.

"It's another one of those bittersweet moments," Heather said afterwards.

Andrews won his first provincial title in 1999 as third for Fort Rouge's Ron Westcott, who threw out the ceremonial first rock with the 16 competing teams lining the sheet.

The other two members of that team, Bob Boughey and Ron Toews, swept the rock, while Darryl Andrews, who won the 2004 crown with his brother, held the broom.

Several players and onlookers shed tears during the ceremony, but the event was also about celebrating Andrews' life with a laugh or two.

"His only regret was that he couldn't fix Westy's out-turn," Heather said during her speech.

The entire Andrews family is honoured that this year's championship, which runs until Monday, is dedicated to their late husband, father, son and brother.

"The fact that Heather and the kids and mom and dad are all here, it's really special to them, too," Darryl said. "He loved senior curling, and he loved these guys."

Neil Andrews will be laid to rest on Tuesday.


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