KATHERINE REDNALL, 22 FROM SUFFOLK
From a young age at school, I was always willing to get stuck into any sport, probably due to starting bowling from the early age of 5. My Dad, John ran the junior section at Ipswich and District Indoor Bowls Club where around 30 of us would get together on a Saturday morning. I was usually the only girl, and quite considerably younger than most of the boys but that never stopped me! In fact, looking back on it, I wouldn’t change that for the world now as having to keep up with them pushed me and got me where I am today.
Bowling is a real family affair as my Mum, Dad and Grandma all play, and have played to a high level. Being able to play as a rink of three generations is quite impressive! Winning national titles with my Mum and Dad is helping me to give back to them for everything they have done for me, running me all around the country and for their ongoing support. Still, nothing makes me prouder than watching my Dad represent England, sharing his success.
Representing my country is a feeling that you cannot replicate from a professional level, but being able to share this with the ones you love most is the real satisfaction. Characters of the sport often fondly reminisce about my Grandad, and tell stories of ‘back in their day’. Friendships are made for life between families and bowling colleagues and I am always eager to hear the tales they have to tell me over a cup of tea.
Women’s role in the bowls community is such an important area socially. From experience, I know it is a tool that provides a sense of friendship, support and community for everyone. Whether it is meeting up with friends that have been made all over the country at an international series, or using Tuesday afternoon league as an excuse to organise a lunch date beforehand, it gives women the opportunity to share the interest we all love regardless of age, background or personal struggles. It is a united support network which opens its doors to everyone regardless of the level you play.
MO MONKTON, 62 FROM YEOVIL, SOMERSET
I have always loved playing and watching sport. At school, I played hockey, tennis, basketball and netball. I did not enjoy athletics, much preferring the team sports. Out of school and after leaving school, I played mixed hockey, squash, basketball and ladies football. As a founder member of the local ladies football team, sport has given me an understanding of governance, team work, fund raising, coaching and a great opportunity to mix with a whole variety of people and skills.
I first got introduced to bowls as a result of watching my parents play and they challenged me to give it a go! I enjoyed it and started to drop into the local club and join in games. Then as I got older and it became more difficult to play the sports I played when I was younger, bowls was my saviour. I love the challenge, the team work, the people and keeping active.
As well as playing bowls, fifteen years ago, I decided to start a junior section at my club and encouraged a lot of different groups to try the sport. I loved seeing everyone, especially those less able start to believe they had found a sport in which they could enjoy and achieve. It was a win-win for me personally, as I was able to pass on some of my experience and also see players having fun and benefiting from the sessions. I truly believe bowls is one of the few "sports for all" and have been delighted in the last few years to use my coaching and people skills to help those with disabilities enjoy and participate.
I think bowls has a lot to offer women. Through bowls, women can keep active as well as be part of a great social network where women can meet up and become part of a supportive and friendly community. Women can feel comfortable walking into their club on their own, knowing there will always be a warm welcome and someone to sit with for a chat over drink or cup of tea. Bowls can be played and enjoyed whatever the standard or aspirations and gives women an opportunity to play socially or develop, train and compete at the very highest level.
ALISON YEARLING, 37 FROM DEVON
As a child I was never particularly sporty. I belonged to a squash club that I quite enjoyed and I also spent time walking on Dartmoor and swimming. I like watching some sport on TV such as bowls, football and the Olympics.
I started bowling in 2009 at the age of 29. I was trying to come to terms with my sight loss and wanted to join a group that catered for visually impaired people to try and meet people that were going through the same thing as me. I was told about the Plymouth visually impaired bowls club and rang the secretary of the club to find out a bit more information. I was invited to go along and have some sample bowls sessions. I enjoyed myself and was encouraged to join the club, which I did.
I play bowls because I enjoy it. I love socialising with the other bowlers and playing in competitions. It is nice to feel a sense of belonging by being part of a group. Despite my sight loss, I can still bowl at a high level and achieve my goals. It has definitely helped me come to terms with and accept my disability. I have met lots of visually impaired bowlers over the years who have inspired me to continue playing.
I would encourage other women to bowl as it will help to keep them active. It is a good way of socialising and becoming part of a team.
NATALIE CHESTNEY, 28 FROM DEVON
When I was at school, I loved all sports. I represented the school in football, hockey and athletics as well as swimming at county level up until the age of 11. However, I must admit to be the worst racket sport player you have ever seen. Embarrassing really!
Before my brother and I were born, my dad played bowls pretty regularly. He introduced us both to the sport at the ages of 9 and 7 respectively at the local indoor centre, where they had a thriving junior section. We both loved it and have played ever since!
As well as being great fun and an outlet for my competitive nature, bowls also ensures I spend most of the summer months outdoors which is something that I really enjoy. The social side of bowls has also been a big part of my life. Through bowls, I actually met my husband, Jamie, as well as forming friendships for life with people of all ages. One of the things I love about bowls is that it is a sport where you can compete at all levels, playing against the highest level opposition one week and alongside club mates during a local league game the next.
I can honestly say that bowls has changed my life in so many positive ways. I have travelled the world, met the most wonderful people (including my husband of course!) and it has taught me a lot of important life skills which I have been able to use at work including team building, effective communication and concentration / time management. It gives me the chance to immerse myself in an activity and forget all the other stresses of everyday life.
I think more women should take up bowls as it is an active but sociable sport. It is one of the only sports that is genuinely for all the family but can be used as an escape if needed! It is a low impact game that can be played alongside other sports or activities if you like - it is a really flexible sport. There are always options to play in mixed or ladies only events, depending on preference. If I could say one thing about bowls – it would be to ignore all the stereotypes and give it a go! I promise you won’t regret it!
SOPHIE TOLCHARD, 26 FROM DEVON
I was born into a sporting family so I’ve spent my whole life either watching sport or playing myself. When I was younger, before I took up bowls, I played a lot of netball which I really enjoyed for years but due to the hectic bowls schedule, bowls eventually took over. At school, I studied GCSE sport which I loved, as I had the opportunity to play pretty much every sport and learn about it. Most of my weekends are spent playing sport and if not playing, I’m watching sport on the TV.
Bowls has always been part of our family life. My dad and brother started playing first. Sadly, my dad passed away when I was 12, so from then on, I spent a lot of my up-bringing with my mum going to watch and support my older brother play. After many years I decided I wanted to play properly. There were lots of competitions and junior games to get involved with in the local area which definitely helped as I was surrounded by people of the same age. This spurred me on as there was a group of us who played together and years on, many of us still play and remain good friends.
Once I started playing, I have never looked back. I think mainly because I’ve always been competitive and bowls is a vehicle that allows me to exercise my competitive nature. I’ve been lucky enough to play for my county, then go onto play for England and now be part of the elite squad. The friendships I have formed throughout the years have definitely helped as I have lots of great people around me to play with so we have fun both on and off the green.
Bowls can offer women all of the above like me….the opportunity to be competitive and as it has a great social side so you can make friends for life. Bowls is also a sport for everyone which is the best thing about it.
ELLEN FALKNER, 38 FROM CAMBRIDGESHIRE
I was introduced to bowls through my dad and mum who both play. I have always been sporty, playing hockey, football and tennis at a decent standard. Bowls sat alongside many other sports while I was in my youth. It was only when I left University at the age of 21 that I fully committed myself to bowls. This decision was very much driven by how I felt when playing for the England Junior International team, which first happened when I was 17. I loved the thrill of representing my country and it was the best weekend of the whole year as far as I was concerned.
Being competitive by nature, bowls has provided many opportunities for me to compete from club level to the world stage. I have been incredibly lucky to travel the world, test myself at the highest level, share some amazing experiences with team mates and develop bonds for life. Bowls has also been a huge part of my family life with my parents and grandparents playing as well as through the sport meeting my husband, Chris. Some of my happiest moments and memories in bowls have been with my family, in particular playing with my mum and nan and it is one of the things that I love most about the sport, that you can play and enjoy it with those you care about most.
From family to friends, most of my closest friends, I have met through bowls. A common interest and passion that has brought so many of us together. Yes, our sport can be competitive on the green, but off the green, it generally is such a friendly community to be part of. I also don’t know of another sport where you can develop such a wide friendship base from late teens to late 70s! I have also seen first-hand from friends who have been through difficult times, from fighting cancer or to losing a partner, how bowls has given them something to focus positively on as well as providing a tremendous support network.
In addition to playing, more recently, I have also entered into coaching and management roles and was hugely honoured to be the Team Leader for the Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa. It is a way that I can give something back to the sport that has given me so much and hopefully help others to achieve and fulfil their dreams.
I think bowls can be what a woman wants it to be. It can be a way of meeting new people, making friends, and a safe place to go and be part of a community. It can also be a sport through which you can develop and progress and play at different levels and represent your club, county or country. On the green, I think bowls is the all-round package. It is both technical and tactical and is a real test of your mental abilities too. I also find that it is a sport that you never master and as much as this sometimes frustrates me, it is why I keep coming back for more!
Time to get more women playing, coaching and volunteering in bowls!
The Bowls Development Alliance (BDA), in partnership with Bowls England (BE) and the English Indoor Bowling Association (EIBA) continues to grow the WOMEN CAN campaign which aims to empower and inspire more women to become involved and participate in the sport of lawn bowls as a coach, player, administrator or official.
Currently only 39% of the bowling club population in England are women, and this campaign has been developed to increase that number to 45% by 2021.
Kara Purvis from the Bowls Development Alliance (BDA) leads on this national campaign says “Our WOMEN CAN campaign has really grown over the last year and continues to grow in momentum, we have now launched a WOMEN CAN resource pack which is available to any club who signs up via our website at www.playbowls.org/womencan”
Ellen Falkner, 3 times Commonwealth Games Gold medallist has been heavily involved with the campaign and continues to be an ambassador says;
"To be involved in a campaign to encourage more women to enjoy the sport of bowls is a fantastic opportunity for me to give something back to the sport I love. It is difficult to articulate in words the impact that bowls has had on my life as it has been so significant. Some of my happiest moments and memories in bowls have been with my family, especially playing with my mum and nan and it is one of the things that I love most about the sport, that you can play and enjoy it with those you care about most."
Ellen has been working with the Bowls Development Alliance team in phase one and two of the project. The aim is to bring to life the many different things that bowls can offer women, from social to competitive, from friendship to fun and enlist the help of other women to tell their stories to inspire other women to get involved. We hope that through doing this, a woman will identify with something another woman says which ignites their interest to go along to their local club and get involved either on or off the green.
Our team of WOMEN CAN Leaders continue to support clubs around the country to work with bowls clubs to increase participation, coaching, officiating or administration opportunities for women, alongside BDA staff or a WOMEN CAN Ambassador who actively promote and raise the profile of the WOMEN CAN campaign and articulate and promote the positive value of taking part in bowls for women.
Why not watch the WOMEN CAN video below?
The Bowls Development Alliance(BDA) along with their partners Bowls England(BE) and the English Indoor Bowling Association(EIBA) are committed to ensuring there is diversity and equality throughout their organisations and that no individuals (including players, spectators, coaches. officials, administrators and staff) receive less favourable treatment on the grounds of their age, gender, race, disability, religion or socio-economic status. The sport aims to make a welcoming environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people thus ensuring that the sport of bowls is truly accessible to everyone
They are also committed to reaching, recruiting and retaining people from all communities including those playing, watching, volunteering or working within it and creating and maintaining a safe and positive environment for everyone to play and enjoy the sport of bowls.
The BDA Board of Directors has adapted a target of a minimum of 30% of each gender to be represented on their board and are committed to progressing towards gender parity. This is as well as working to achieve greater diversity on the board including but not limited to black, asian, minority ethnic, (BAME) diversity and disability representation.
Over the next three and a half years they will work to foster all aspects of diversity both within its leadership and in the decision-making process.
Board of Directors
The BDA Board of Directors is made up of 3 Non-Executive Independent Directors and with 2 nominated Directors from each partner National Governing Body (EIBA Ltd & Bowls England).
Malcolm Douglas – Non-Executive Independent Director & Chairman
Malcolm was appointed as an Independent Non-Executive Director and elected as Chairman in May 2017.
Malcolm has a wealth of business experience notably as Group Managing Director of Swatch Group UK Ltd, Managing Director of Polar Electro UK Ltd and Global President of Polar Electro Group. He is now Executive Chairman of Patterson Elliott Management Ltd.
Malcolm's role is to lead the Board, ensuring that the highest standard of probity & governance apply in relations to operations, development of the business, of the organisation and its strategy in accordance with its purposes set out in the governing document and all legal regulatory requirement.
Terry Maywood – Senior Non-Executive Independent Director
Terry was appointed as an Independent Non-Executive Director in 2015 and elected by the Board as Senior Non-Executive Independent Director April 2017.
Terry has a wealth of experience in the retail sector and has completed many a sporting challenge for charity.
Terry is the Chair of the BDA’s Audit Committee.
Gavin Baker – Non-Executive Independent Director
Gavin was appointed as an Independent Non-Executive Director in 2018.
Gavin has a wealth of experience in the sports sector.
Peter Thompson – Director, representing EIBA Ltd
Peter was appointed as Director in 2010 to represent the English Indoor Bowling Association Ltd.
Peter is the EIBA’s Chief Executive, a position his has held since January 2009. He has 24 years experience of working in Sport predominantly in the areas of Commercial, Marketing and Senior Management.
His role on the Board is to ensure the sport of flat green indoor bowls continues to be an integral part of the BDA but to provide guidance / assistance in Governance and business operations.
Tony Allcock MBE – Director, representing Bowls England
Tony was appointed as a Director in 2010 to represent Bowls England.
Professionally, he is a qualified teacher and was formerly employed by Gloucestershire County Council as Head of several Educational Centres for people with Learning Difficulties. He subsequently ran a successful business before being appointed Chief Executive of the English Bowling Association in 2002. This followed his retirement from World Class Play and a playing career which spanned several decades during which he accumulated 15 World titles. He led the amalgamation with the English Women’s Bowling Association, forming Bowls England, a Company Limited by guarantee by 35 County Associations. Bowls England currently serves over 100,000 affiliated members . Tony is also a Non-Executive Director of the Kennel Club.
Tony’s role (with other Directors) is to oversee the management of the company's business; to be part of strategic and operational decisions to ensure that company meets its statutory obligations.
Created in 2017 as part of Bowls Development Alliance (BDA)’s four-year Sport England-funded Delivery Plan, the Club Development Programme offers Bowls England and English Indoor Bowling Association affiliated clubs across the country a unique support programme to develop and better sustain their current membership numbers and recruit new members into the sport.
Every club that signs up to the programme will receive direct support from the BDA to create a Club Development Plan that will help the club not only to provide the best experience for its present members but support new recruitment initiatives to increase their current membership. Each club involved is allocated one of our club development officers who will be supporting the club committee throughout their engagement in the programme. Up to £500 in funding is available to support clubs working on this programme.
To be eligible to apply, clubs need to meet the following criteria:
• Clubs must be affiliated to either Bowls England or the English Indoor Bowling Association.
• Clubs must have seen a net membership decline of 3% or more over the past 2 years.
• Clubs must be willing to be proactive and take on tasks set out in a Development Plan.
• Clubs must have a demonstrable capacity for membership growth.
THIS IS THE LAST CHANCE for clubs to apply to the programme before the end of the Sport England funded 2017-2021 Play Bowls strategy by the BDA.
• Outdoor clubs must apply by the end of March 2020.
• Indoor clubs must apply by the end of August 2020.
As we are expecting a high number of applications, we encourage clubs to apply as soon as possible to ensure a timely start. For those clubs that do not meet the criteria, please be aware that the Play Bowls Package is available to all affiliated clubs via the twice-yearly application windows.
Our engagement with each club is unique, and depending on the needs, challenges and circumstances we offer a bespoke support package of direct advice and consultation, courses, workshops, templates, guides, examples of best practice and more. Having said that, the core of our engagement with each club involves what is described in the graph above.
To find out more information about what the programme involves, evidence of how its impact on clubs and quotes from club committee members and county officials, please read the Guidance Notes attached below. We have also attached a number of case studies showcasing the positive influence of the Club Development Programme on clubs that took part in it.
Additional Support for Clubs
Club Matters, the essential one-stop-shop for sports clubs, will provide you with support, learning and guidance on all aspects of running a club whether it is large, small, formal or informal. Club Matters offers free, simple and bitesize support to all clubs. To use the Club Matters' resources, simply visit their website and sign up for free.