BERNIE HILL, 52 FROM BOLTON
I have always been interested in sport, as a participant and observer. During my school years, I was actively involved in netball, hockey and tennis. I had a ‘chance encounter’ with bowls in my mid 20s and was instantly hooked! I have played bowls now for 29 years, participating in different ‘codes’, i.e. crown green, indoor, flat green and a brief encounter with short mat. During my time playing crown green I was fortunate enough to play for the inter-town and county teams and had some success in open competitions. Approximately six years ago, I came to a crossroads where I had to make a decision regarding which code to concentrate on….flat won, hands down!
I enjoy all aspects of bowls from the club fun days through to the competitive inter county and national games. I love being outdoors, enjoying the fresh air and exercise that goes with our great sport. Being part of a team and building friendships through the sport is very important to me and I now have friends all over the country. Bowling is also a family activity in our house as I met my husband Alan playing bowls and he now shares my love of the flat green game!
In the six years that I have concentrated on the flat green game, I have had success at club and county level and have qualified for the National Finals at Leamington several times. Last season I was honoured to be County and Club President, two busy roles that I thoroughly enjoyed. In addition to these roles, I have also become involved in umpiring, qualifying as a National Umpire last year and I have been fortunate to officiate at county finals, outdoor National Finals at Leamington and indoor National Finals at Melton Mowbray.
Alongside my officiating role, I have also attained the Level 1 and 2 Bowls Coaching Qualifications and am a Coach Bowls Tutor. Helping new members to start bowling was something that occurred naturally to me building on my professional life as a primary school teacher and my passion for teaching. During the last ten years I have moved into a role as a Regional Manager in a local Music Service, meaning that I do not get the opportunity to teach on a regular basis so coaching bowls has helped me to fill this void.
I thoroughly believe that bowls has something to offer everyone, from the most competitive lady player to the lady who wants a social roll up. We are very fortunate in our club that the vast majority of our competitions are ‘open’ or ‘mixed’, so that ladies are fully integrated. As a club, we also have a good social section which means there is a support network for all members, this has been of particular benefit to some of the lady members in our club who have been recently widowed. In short, bowls provides women with a gently active hobby, health benefits, friendship and opportunities to play at different levels.