Bowls clubs urged to stay in touch with their members through these tough times
The nationwide prospects for the game of outdoor bowls is under threat.
Not only are the vast majority of its participants in the over 70 ‘vulnerable and at risk’ category (over 80 per-cent in some clubs) likely to be affected by the coronavirus pandemic but they need the activity and companionship which bowls provides to stimulate them through later life.
A number of outdoor leagues have decided to suspend all competition while others have at best been delayed and at worst suspended altogether until 2021.
David Ashby is the chairman of Bourne Town Bowls Club and, under his leadership, the club has transformed its fortunes, more than doubling its membership to 90 and is closing in on extending its clubhouse with a £100,000 refurbishment.
He explained: “It will not only be a facility for our regular bowlers but provide for the disabled, carer groups and the visually impaired.
“We still need £40,000 but even in this current climate we are confident we can get it.”
Thanks chiefly to an intensive recruitment campaign, which included attracting dozens from the local U3A group, the club has also embarked on a membership support scheme, which includes a weekly newsletter and making sure members are not forgotten in these difficult times, while maintaining lines of communication.
David continued: “It is vitally important that clubs stay in touch with their members as much as possible.
“Bowls clubs can appear very precious – they have to look outside themselves and offer something to their communities as a whole – with roll-ups and social events and not just competitive bowling.
“It’s surprising how many will respond. With an outlook like this, bowls clubs can thrive.
“You just have to open your minds.”
Langtoft Pearl Bowls Club is ‘closed until further notice’, according to club stalwart Peter White but he is hopeful that as long as government guidelines confirm it is safe to do so, it will re-open later in the summer.
Peter – a former EBF national senior singles champion – said: “Minimal work has been done to keep the green ‘ticking over’ and to protect it and we are hopeful we will at least be okay for next season.
“Our chairman Nolan Catterwell has done a fantastic job, organising theatre and other trips and quizzes to help boost our funds but one of our best fund-raisers – regular coffee mornings at the club – have had to be suspended.”
Market Deeping club secretary Chris Binns explained that a rota of members were still cutting their green as part of their daily exercise routine but observing social distancing and hygiene restrictions.
Chris commented: “We have spent so much money on our green and on our £4,000 clubhouse extension, we can’t afford to let up on it.”
The club has 42 members and many had indicated they were prepared to waive their subscriptions for 2020 in order to keep the club funds ticking over after their fundraising race night had to be cancelled.