Category Archives: From Bowls England

Bowls England COVID Guidance Update

From 19th July, Clubs are not required to enforce any COVID restrictions by law. We are recommending, however, that Government guidance on mask wearing indoors is still adhered to by our Clubs, and that all Clubs continue to utilise the NHS COVID app to ensure the spread of the virus is limited.

We are sure that the bowls community will respect people’s personal choices regarding masks, social distancing and their own well-being.

Following the latest Government update, we are working with various stakeholders, including Warwick District Council and Public Health England, to confirm the plans for the Bowls England National Finals and will issue an update next week. We made a commitment to ensure that we managed the season safely for all participants and we are determined to see that through. We thank you for your continued patience as we navigate this situation.

PENNY MAGUIRE RETIRES AFTER 15 FANTASTIC YEARS

Penny Maguire, a familiar face to all bowlers over the past 15 years, has retired from Bowls England.

Penny’s unwavering enthusiasm and passion for the sport has seen her play an integral role over the years. As Business Development Manager, her main priority was the financial health of the company. Alongside this, she drove the Bowls England National Finals, intent on providing an incredible experience for bowlers at the pinnacle of the summer season.

She also was instrumental in the development of the Visually Impaired Bowlers World Blind Bowlers Championship in 2013, and put a lot of personal effort into raising the funds for the event, whilst also organising it operationally.

Together with Tony Allcock OBE, our previous Chief Executive, Penny led the company for many years, diligently and professionally.

Jon Cockcroft, current CE of Bowls England, said “Penny’s contribution to the sport has been incredible, across so many areas, and she will be sorely missed by us all. A great colleague and friend, she has fully deserved her retirement to the delights of South Wales.

“We look forward to welcoming her back to the National Finals in August for a proper send off.”

Penny’s departure, along with those of Dawn Chapman, Jamie Chestney and John Hughes over the past 12 months, as well as the transition of Adam Durnin to a full time role with Coach Bowls, has necessitated a staffing process which is now complete. You can find the full centralised staff team, and their responsibilities, here.

COACH BOWLS LAUNCH CENTRES OF EXCELLENCE

Bowls England has welcomed the partnership between Coach Bowls and a number of outstanding bowls facilities around the country as Centres of Excellence.

These venues will be used to deliver all Coach Bowls courses, as part of the long-term development of the sport of bowls, with Coach Bowls providing the only nationally recognised coaching qualification for the sport of bowls in England.

These eight flagship venues provide excellent facilities, enabling Coach Bowls to deliver their courses smoothly and effectively, ensuring a quality experience for all coaches.

The eight venues which form Coach Bowls’ Centres of Excellence are:

  • Avon Valley IBC, Warwickshire
  • Desborough BC, Berkshire
  • Falcon BC, Essex
  • Heaton Park, Manchester
  • Ilminster BC, Somerset
  • Preston BC, Sussex
  • Victoria Park, Royal Leamington Spa, Warwickshire
  • Selby BC, Yorkshire

Mal Evans, Bowls England Director of Coaching, said: “We are delighted that these excellent facilities have shown their faith and support in the Coach Bowls system and have agreed to partner with us in the delivery of all of our practical days. The first course at one of the Centre of Excellence venues was delivered at Desborough BC last week, and we look forward to cementing the relationships over the coming years.”

Coach Bowls qualifications challenge coaches to think creatively to develop and use cutting-edge techniques to make short and long-term gains for bowlers.

If you are interested in starting or furthering your own coaching journey, please visit www.coachbowls.org for information on all of the modules and qualifications and to book a place.

Our Coaching Bursary scheme assists members of affiliated clubs who wish to obtain a Coach Bowls qualification. The Bowls England Coaching Bursary offers affiliated members 50 per cent of the cost of recognised Coach Bowls courses.

A spotlight on all eight of the Centres of Excellence will be shared over the coming weeks. Click here if you would like to sign up to receive our fortnightly newsletter, The Jack.

Success for Darlington South Park’s Scott Morland

Congratulations to Scott Morland of Darlington South Park BC in Durham, who has been voted Bowls England’s 2020 Story of the Year!

Over the past two years, Darlington South Park BC has risen from the ashes of a club on the verge of extinction, with just a handful of members, to become a thriving and successful forward-thinking club driven by a dynamic secretary and committee.

Our annual Award, generously supported by Drakes Pride, recognises the outstanding achievement of bowls clubs and members across the country and promotes the hard work and dedication that goes into running a successful club.

Scott beat off stiff competition from Biddenden BC (Kent), Clanfield Bowls & Sports Club (Hampshire), Chris Dennis (Branksome Park BC, Dorset) and Neil Hancock (Little Compton BC, Warwickshire).

When hearing about his success, Scott said: “I am absolutely delighted to have our work recognised, I must thank all of the club members as we couldn’t have achieved the success over the last 12 months in particular without their support.

“Our membership now comprises of a broad spectrum of the local community, and our work with disadvantaged members of society including those with disabilities has only just begun.  This must continue, especially now Covid has created an even bigger imbalance in society.

“Our success is obviously down to a lot of promoting through social media and the willing volunteers that give us their time free time to implement the ideas and plans, however the importance of working with local community groups can’t be underestimated. Our work and meetings with local minority and ethnic communities as well as the LGBT+ community opens new doors to the sport.  The key is trying to make a comfortable environment, so everyone in the community feels welcome.

“Our sport’s image is changing but there’s a lot of work still to do, and it’s great to see the efforts all over the country from people trying to improve and diversify what they are offering to the public.

“Our own Inclusion Project is a long-term plan and we really hope we can encourage change further afield than just at South Park and with the continued support of the bowling world.  We all love this sport and by sharing it and taking away barriers, and being more flexible we have the potential to grow very quickly.”

The club now boasts a membership which is just shy of 120 and is celebrating its 125th Anniversary this year. As part of their celebrations, the club is entering into partnerships with local community groups such as Arcus (LGBT+ Awareness), Alzheimers Association, Prevent, Darlington Council, More in Common, Keylink (Disability Group) and the BAME Community, and has invited bowlers and clubs to join training information events to promote the inclusiveness in bowls.

Jon Cockcroft, Bowls England Chief Executive, added: “When reflecting on 2020, it’s almost impossible to look beyond Covid-19 and its impact on our sport, however I am proud of the amazing efforts by many of our clubs to support fellow bowlers in these difficult times.

“Scott’s efforts over the past 12 months in particular at Darlington South Park have certainly not gone unnoticed or unappreciated. All at Bowls England wish to congratulate Scott, the other finalists and everyone who took the time to vote for these remarkable stories, as well as Drakes Pride for their continued support of the Story of the Year award.”

Over 100 nominations were received for the 2020 Story of the Year, all highlighting the incredible efforts that individual members and clubs have gone ‘above and beyond’ during the challenging times.

All five finalists will receive some great prizes from our generous supporters, Drakes Pride.

As part of our new ‘Club Life’ series, we shall be highlighting success stories from our clubs and sharing these on our communication channels. If your club has an interesting initiative that you would be happy for us to share, please send information to email hidden; JavaScript is required and a member of our staff will be in contact.

UPDATE | GOVERNMENT ROADMAP DELAY

Following this evening’s government update regarding the delayed lifting of all coronavirus restrictions, we wanted to update you on what this means for outdoor lawn bowls.

Return to Play | Step 4

Given coronavirus restrictions will remain in place for a further 4 weeks at a minimum, there is no change to our Step 3 guidance issued in May. You can remind yourself of the guidance by clicking here.

We will update you as soon as there is further information and thank everyone within the Bowls England community for their efforts in adhering to the guidelines.

Bowls England National Finals – Update

Now that our Bowls’ Big Weekend has been delivered, we have accelerated our planning for the National Finals due to take place between Thursday 19 August and Sunday 5 September 2021. We will be working on the basis that spectators will be able to watch live, but in a managed way.

Following this news, there is more work to do over the coming days to evolve and finalise our plans for the National Finals. We understand the ongoing uncertainty is frustrating and that people want to confirm their arrangements, but we ask you to kindly bear with us as we work through the details. As soon as we can, we will communicate an update.

Celebration Matches

We will be contacting clubs who are hosting our first few Celebration Matches to help enable these fantastic occasions to happen compliant with the government guidelines.

Norma Hazzledine  awarded MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List

Norma Hazzledine

Bowls England is delighted to announce that Norma Hazzledine has been awarded an MBE in Her Majesty The Queen’s Birthday Honours List for 2021. Norma has been a tireless servant of bowls and this award, for her services to sport, is just recognition for 31 years working towards true equality for women, as well as opportunities for younger people.

“I am absolutely astounded but so excited and thrilled with the honour,” Norma said.

“Bowls offered me a chance to achieve something special and I love the game. The sport has so much to offer.”

Bowls England Chair David Tucker was effusive in his praise of Norma, stating: “Norma has truly been a pioneer for our sport, and we’re so pleased and proud she’s been recognised in this way. She is an inspirational member of the bowls world, and I am delighted for her and her family.”

He added: “Her indefatigable work striving for equality has made the sport in this country what it is today. Every medal our women win at a Commonwealth Games is partly down to her drive and will; her determination to create opportunities for all women.”

Norma was an accomplished England International, who collected 24 caps between 1994 and 2000, but it was away from the green, however, that she had the greatest impact for her sport. A trailblazer, Norma has fought for equality for everyone in bowls, regardless of age or gender.

“We’re a long way down the road. We’ve moved on so far from the days when I started. Progress was achieved by stealth – but eventually it become obvious to everyone that by coming together, Men’s and Women’s bowls could be much stronger. It just needed the will to make it succeed.”

This sense of purpose is reflected in many of the stories she tells, recalling a trip to Lord’s and her determination to walk through the Long Room “just because I can.”

And no-one has done more in that pursuit than Norma.

Upon taking up the sport in the late 1980s, Norma immediately realized there was a problem with the structure of her local county’s competitions. “All the competitions were during the day – there was no appreciation of the time constraints of work.”

Norma formed Derbyshire County Women’s Bowls Association in 1989 and immediately developed a competition structure that enabled working and young women in education to play competitive bowls at the highest level. In recognition of the accomplishment, Derbyshire won the National Singles event at the English National Finals in their first competitive year. “It was so worthwhile, and by setting up the new association it gave a whole raft of women an opportunity to flourish.”

As her playing career blossomed, she began to expand her horizons – determined to continue improving the sport for all. “I was lucky,” Norma feels, “because I learnt the game by playing mixed leagues, which expanded my abilities. Whilst I admired the people running the women’s game immensely, I knew I had to try to drag things into the 20th Century if the women’s game was going to improve and be taken more seriously.”

After a spell as EWBA President in 1994, she played a pivotal role in the successful staging of the 1996 Women’s World Bowls Championships, which included introducing the first computerized scoring system in the UK. And, perhaps most proudly, she took on the role of Competition Manager for the Manchester Commonwealth Games in 2002.

“I retired from playing at international level before I was dropped!” Norma graciously jokes. “I think contributing to the Games is probably my greatest achievement, which is a difficult thing to say. But I just could not get it wrong – on that stage, needing to deliver a programme that truly showcased our sport – I had to get it right.”

This penchant for running events would see her become Director of International Events on the Bowls England Board in 2009, but not before a four-year stint as Chair of the English Bowls Youth Development scheme.

“The sense of community [that bowls offers] is not just limited to older people. Our junior teams support each other just as much – I remember when one of their captains had cancer, a group of the younger players got together and produced a topless calendar to raise money for Cancer Research. Our sport is so caring.”

Norma’s commitment to youth development also saw her play a key role in the setting up of a Youth Development pathway – providing coaching, tournaments and an international test series for Under 18s.

As David Tucker commented: “It should not be overlooked that she also spent much time increasing youth participation in the sport as well. As the average age of our Commonwealth Games squad, 33, shows – there’s an appetite for our sport amongst younger people, which Norma has long recognised and encouraged.”

Time and time again, we come back to the topic that has dominated people’s lives over the past 15 months. “To have somewhere to go, have a drink and a laugh, play some sport, enjoy some fresh air – it’s always been important, but particularly now after COVID.” She wants people to see the sport as she does. “The bowls world is so supportive. Everyone was wonderful when my husband developed dementia. They used to offer to look after him so I could get on with other things, even if I just wanted to have a quick game. I was profoundly touched.”

Her time on the Bowls England board was trophy-laden, with three gold, four silver and seven bronze medals secured in three Commonwealth Games’ cycles.

And now she has been rightly awarded an MBE. “I thought it was a scam! It came via email, and it didn’t seem right – but the Cabinet Officer quickly confirmed it was genuine.” Her infectious sense of fun, her love of the sport and her fiery determination & commitment make her one of the finest ambassadors bowls could wish for. And despite retiring from the Bowls England Board in 2018, when she was honoured with Life Membership, that fire still burns brightly.

“COVID has shown us the importance of getting outside, being active and staying sociable. Our sport offers that and so much more. I’m even more enthusiastic about the future than I was 25 years ago.”

Brief summary of Norma’s roles in the sport of Bowls
1988: Formed Derbyshire County Women’s Bowls Association – competition structure set up to enable working and young women to participate in competitions

1991: Derbyshire County President

1994: EWBA President

1994-2000: International Player

1995: Player – Atlantic Rim Games, Durban, South Africa – Bronze Medal

1996: Joint Tournament Director with Mavis Steele MBE – Women’s World Bowls – introduced the first computerised scoring system used in the sport of Bowls in the British Isles

1997-2008: Headed Tournament Office at the EWBA National Championships on the death of Mavis Steele, MBE

1998-present: Secretary/Treasurer, Association of Women Past Presidents of England.

2000-2002: Competition Manager, XVII Commonwealth Games in Manchester

2002-2006: Chairman, English Bowls Youth Development Scheme

2004: Tournament Director – Women’s World Bowls, Leamington Spa

2008-2009: Development Committee – Bowls England

2009-2018: Director – International Events, Bowls England

2009-2018: Director (on behalf of Bowls England) – Bowls Development Alliance

MEDIA ROLL UP FOR BOWLS’ BIG WEEKEND!

Bowls’ Big Weekend promises to be a carnival for our sport this Bank Holiday, with record numbers of people flocking to our clubs across the country to try this great game.

And in the build-up to the national open day, the media coverage has exploded – putting bowls firmly in the spotlight.

BBC Breakfast sports legend Mike Bushell attended Colchester BC on Wednesday to film a segment for Saturday’s breakfast show. He was greeted their by England International Ed Morris, as well as local school children and a welcoming band of club members – as well as numerous freshly baked cakes! Mike spoke to a number of people at the Club about the importance of the initiative and attracting new members – and of course he took part in a match himself!

2019 Men’s Singles Champion Ed has also featured in a number of newspaper article in Essex ahead of this weekend – such as the Southend Standard.

Ellen Falkner MBE has also been in high demand to talk about the initiative, appearing on BBC Radio Leicester amongst others – as well as over 100 regional titles!

Bowls England CEO Jon Cockcroft has also been spreading the word in a number of appearances, such as the morning show on BBC Radio Leeds and on BBC West Midlands. You can read some of his thoughts on the weekend in the Nottingham Post, amongst others.

And Andy Knapper spent some time this week teaching BBC South‘s Sport Editor Lewis Coombes the ropes at Tilehurst BC, which you can watch here. BBC Look North have also visited York RI BC to cover the event.

With even more media activity booked in for the next few days, bowls really will be at the forefront of things to do this weekend.

If any of the news coverage has inspired you to give it a go, you can still attend Bowls’ Big Weekend! Head to the website to find your local event now.

And don’t forget to get involved – use #BowlsBigWeekend across your social platforms to show everyone how fantastic our sport really is.

Bowls England International Trials/Performance Training – September 2021

Just a short note to advise that it has been decided to postpone the senior international trials originally scheduled for Saturday 25th September until May 2022 (date TBC). The Performance event on Sunday 26th September has also been postponed.

This decision has been taken to enable all players in the Performance squad and wider international teams that have qualified to participate in the National Indoor Finals, which are now scheduled to start that same weekend.

We shall communicate plans for all international events in 2022 once the programme has been finalised in consultation with the other home nations.