SiP 16 – Thame Bowls Club

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Thame Bowls Club

Thame Bowls Club had its first committee meeting on the 24th April 1924 and by the time the 1925 season started there were 34 members. Today we are still flourishing with over 120 members. 

Some eight years ago Vic Brooks and I, with our wives, went to an open day at Thame to try out Lawn Bowls. We were shown the rudiments of the game by John Timms, a very experienced bowler who was winning major competitions as far back as the 1970s and even today is still bowling a very high standard. We fell in love with the game and Vic was destined to win the top club competition within a year or so of joining. But it wasn’t very long before we realised the need for changes.  

Year by year the club was losing members and so we decided to have a really strong attempt to recruit new members. Vic was still running his own business and I had been in charge of the BBC Weather Presenters for 25 years so we thought that we had a fair chance of success.  

We organised a stall at the local market and invited the BBC to film us there and on the bowls green – this resulted in us recruiting 31 people in that one year and we continued to increase our numbers to the present day when most bowls clubs are still losing numbers and some closing down altogether. 

The challenge we have had over the past five years was to change the club to allow these new bowlers to develop and to encourage them to take part in club and county games. But that is not the entire story because, important as it is, changing the focus on the social side was also a top priority. And we now have a very happy club who all enjoy the facilities on both the green and the activities in the club house.  

One of the great successes has been the introduction of the Friday League when over 70 club members take part throughout the season; this has been so successful that it has been sponsored by a leading firm of solicitors in the town.  

Over the years we have also been lucky to involve students from the local Comprehensive school who have been learning about bowls for part of their sport GCSE – indeed Mike Bushell brought BBC National TV down to make a film with them extolling the virtues of the game for the young. 

Every year the club seems to be getting stronger and stronger both with the bowling and the social side and 2017 was no exception with the Men’s League Team winning all twelve of their matches and the Ladies performing well on the county scene. 

Now that the outdoor bowling season has finished we all look forward to playing carpet bowls in the club house twice a week as well as playing indoor bowls either in Oxford or Aylesbury as well as enjoying the many social evenings that are planned throughout the coming winter. 

Two main events happen in October, firstly the Presentation evening when over 70 members and friends congregate in the club house to honour all of the winners of the various club competitions. The Annual General Meeting, which for many organisations is quite a dull and poorly attended occasion, is well supported with the club house packed to over filling to listen to all that went on in the recent year and our plans for the coming year. 

This year all the posts for Officers and Committee for the coming year have been filled with everyone getting quite excited for 2018. Such is the love of what the club has become, a caring fun loving bowling and social club. 

Together with the Tennis Club, who share the building, we are planning to completely re-build the club house – part of which is the original dating from the 1920s. This is not just for the benefit of the members of the Tennis and Bowls Clubs but for people and organisations in and around the town and the surrounding villages, who already use the facilities, and with the new building, which we hope to be able to finance and build during the winter 2018-2019, will increase rapidly the number of organisations whom we will be able to accommodate. At the same time the new improved layout will enable proper indoor short mat bowling over the winter and make the club house a truly 365 days a year venue. 

A great deal has happened in the last five years to make the Thame Bowls Club one to enjoy whatever your standard of bowling and also one that has actively encouraged the social side of bowling. A club in which people come to enjoy their leisure time especially those who live alone; they stay active and continue to enjoy outdoor recreation into their 90s and as Chairman of Thame Bowls Club I, with many others, are very proud of what we have achieved in the last five years and what we plan to achieve in the next five and I am sure that this club will survive well into this century. 

Article provided by Bill Giles O.B.E. 

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