George Babalev

George Babalev

Rookery BC
 
The 2018 Love Fisher Brown Award, sponsored by Factory Eleven, was created to recognise clubs that provide disabled participation opportunities for their bowlers. This award, named after the remarkable and inspiring Commonwealth Games achievements of Bob Love, David Fisher and Paul Brown, showcases the excellent work being undertaken by clubs with disabled bowlers around the country, and provide a benchmark for other clubs to aspire to. The Disability Steering Group panel, comprised of representatives from the Activity Alliance, Bowls Development Alliance, Bowls England, Disability Bowls England and English Indoor Bowling Association, assessed each of the 16 strong nominations, and after much discussion and thought are delighted to announced that the following entries have been selected as this year’s prize winners:
 
  • 2018 Love Fisher Brown Award Winners – Rookery Bowling Club
  • 2018 Love Fisher Brown Award Runner Up – Peacehaven & Telscombe Bowls Club
  • 2018 Love Fisher Brown Award Runner Up – Donyngs Indoor Bowling Club
Furthermore, for their outstanding achievements over the past year and the quality of their nominations, the following clubs have been Highly Commended: City and County of Bristol IBC; Lincoln & District IBC; Riverside IBC; and Stoke BC.
 
On behalf of the award panel, George Babalev (Club Development Co-ordinator and Disability Lead for the Bowls Development Alliance) said: “The standard of entries proved to be exceptionally high and the nature of the activities detailed within them were both inspiring and humbling. All sixteen entries had much to be commended for and it is extremely heartening to hear of the fantastic work that is taking place to provide opportunities for disabled people to participate in bowls. Ultimately, however, there has to be a winner and Rookery Bowling Club were the award panel’s choice to receive the 2018 Love Fisher Brown Award with the entries from Peacehaven & Telscombe BC and Donyngs IBC securing the two runner-up prizes.

Throughout the year, Love Fisher Brown Award entrants will be profiled, and their great work showcased. The first entrant to be profiled is the 2018 Love Fisher Brown Award winners Rookery Bowling Club.

In the autumn of 2017, members of the committee of Rookery Bowls Club set up Stowmarket Rookery Community Bowls Group to get as many groups and people with disabilities as active as possible, meet new people and achieve personal goals of their own through bowls. The club is currently working in the community 5 days a week promoting the bowls club as a "happy" place to be. The club:
  • visits 5 care homes and now have group visits booked 4 - 5 times a week, well into 2019.
  • engages with over 60 people per week in care homes.
  • forms part of the local Dementia Action Alliance.
  • helped a visually impaired man achieve his goal of competing with sighted people.
  • invites and inspires all disabled people to leave their chairs and join the club to achieve the goals of their own!
  • is updating and refurbishing their building to become a fully accessible community hub equipped with lots of dementia friendly games, activities and films for their visitors at the community sessions. 
You can learn more about what the dedicated committee members and volunteers from Rookery BC are doing by watching this short video.
 
Chris Brooks, the club recruitment and advertisement lead said:I believe that our success in just over a year proves that if all bowls clubs adopted or adapted our project in their location it would also be a huge success for them too. It would provide a win-win situation for bowling clubs and disability groups and individuals throughout the country.

I have been blown away by the enthusiasm of the group and their appetite to create new opportunities for their local community. Through their good work they are not only reducing isolation and loneliness by bringing people together, but they are also making a positive difference to physical activity levels in the area – something that has long lasting benefits for both the individual concerned and the wider communityAdam Baker, Strategic Lead for Physical Activity Directorate of Health, Wellbeing and Children’s Services Suffolk County Council.