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Visitors bowled over at Bowl's Big Weekend

Updated: Jun 12, 2021

Sunny weather, pristine greens, a BBQ and a bar gave a carnival atmosphere as visitors flocked to Gildredge Park to give bowls a go on Bank Holiday 31st May as part of Bowls England’s Bowls Big Weekend. They tested their skills in various fun games as they learned to play with help from expert coaches. A children’s rink was particularly popular showing age is no barrier to the game.

Louis Foster, age 6, and his father Dan

Many visitors stayed for a long time which showed how much they enjoyed giving bowls a try. They commented on the friendliness of the club, the atmosphere, the clubhouse, the greens, and the parkland location.

Giving bowls a go

Social media carried a lot of posts about the day, the Eastbourne Herald reported about the event for two successive weeks, and a radio station featured a half-hour interview. The presence of the Mayor, Mayoress and M.P., and their clear enjoyment of the day, has given the club a big boost in its ‘presence’ in the town.

International bowls star Lorraine Kulher demonstrated her champion’s technique

as she joined three club members in a demonstration event at Gildredge Park bowls club on Bank Holiday Monday 31st May.

L to R: Ellen, Marilyn, Lorraine, and Arthur

Kulher partnered Marilyn Doust against husband-and-wife team Ellen and Arthur Strevens in a closely fought match over five ends with Kulher and Doust emerging the narrow winners. The demonstration event was part of a national drive to open the sport to new players as over 650 clubs throughout England opened their doors as part of Bowls England’s #Bowlsbigweekend.

Lorraine Kuhler said “It was wonderful to be a part of a day promoting the sport I love. You have a wonderful facility at Gildredge Park and your members are so welcoming.”

Amongst the attendees were Caroline Ansell MP, Mayor Pat Rodohan and Mayoress Barbera Rodohan. The Mayor and M.P. competed against each other in a short impromptu match. They both spent a long time talking with club members and visitors and took lunch with President Dorothy Bromiley and Vice-President Henry Knowles.

Mayor Rodohan commented “that the club was caring and friendly and thanked the club for an enjoyable time”.

Mayor and Mayoress Rodohan with Lorraine Kuhler

Caroline Ansell M.P. wrote about the day in her weekly e-news and in her column in the Eastbourne Herald. She said

Bank holiday on the green! I spent a lovely Bank Holiday Monday with Gildredge Park Bowls Club which was alive with the sound of returning players and curious new visitors, all part of a national ‘Bowls Big weekend’. The club had the honour of hosting champion and England player Lorraine Kuhler who proved a very inspiring coach and cheerleader to all those she met.

Caroline Ansell M.P. with club president Dorothy Bromily and Vice-President Henry Knowles

I took on our new Mayor who, fair to say, would have won ‘best dressed’ too! Thank you to Club President, Dorothy & Vice President Henry and all the Club’s volunteers who made the day such a tremendous success. It was wonderful to see old friends like Roller Roy and to catch up with everybody.

I was so pleased to learn that government grants this last year had made all the difference to the Club weathering lockdown. It has been running for an astonishing 101 years. Long may it continue.

Returning to playing bowls is going to be a first outing after shielding for some of their members and it just goes to show how important these clubs are to the community, for well-being and very much part of the road to recovery.”

Fifty-seven visitors registered on the day and more joined in without formally registering. Thirty visitors signed up for four free coaching sessions to see if they really like the game and these sessions begin on Wednesday 9th June. Six people have already joined the club. Several hundred pounds was raised for club funds through the raffle, bar, and hot dog sales.

Such a successful day was only possible by the efforts of over 30 club members who gave unstintingly of their time to make the day hum. From car parking to sandwiches, coaching to reception desk, raffle to hot dogs, bowls to hosting, teas to the bar, and many other roles, the club members pulled together in a wonderful job. It was a big effort all round but the sign-ups look promising to bring new people into the club and help keep membership numbers up.

Photos, L to R: International bowling star Lorraine Kuhler with club life member Eve Goldsmith; with club coaches Chris Willing and Denise Smith; with club Chairman Colin Couch

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