West End Bowls Club

West End, Woking

Your story

A friendly neighbourhood lawn bowling club with a fantastic green that supports bowling at all levels; from absolute beginners to skilled players competing in Area, County and National competitions.

Group introduction

We are a thriving lawn green bowling club that is run by members for the benefit of members and the surrounding community. Throughout our 20 year history we have had an ethos of continuous improvement and built a reputation for hospitality and inclusiveness.

Members steadily develop their skills and participate in the sport at all levels. From mid-April to late September the club is open daily from dawn to dusk. We have a lot of fun with around 10 fixtures each week and lots of competitions. It is not unusual to see 48 players on the green.

We rent the green and premises from the local authority and are fully responsible for the upkeep. Maintaining a bowling green is highly labour intensive and, except where licensed contractors have to be used to apply chemicals, all the work is done by members. The green is recognised as one of the best in the area and is used to host major events by the wider bowling community.

In recent years, as founder members have aged and had to give up the outdoor game, we have been highly successful in recruiting new bowlers. Over 35% of our playing members are new. Many older members are now social members and a range of social activities has been introduced accordingly.

The clubhouse has been extended, by the members, three times, but is much too small to house our growing membership and visiting opponents. We can comfortably accommodate 48 people at any one time but have a combined playing and social membership of 134 and, also, host around 30 people from other clubs on a regular basis.

We are planning a major extension which will enable us to open all year round. When this has been achieved we will be able to introduce day time short mat bowling. This is related to lawn green bowls but requires less physical strength so is suitable for older people. Physical activity is important in prolonging the health, mobility and independence of older people, as well as reducing social isolation. The game of bowls has much to contribute to this.

Improved facilities, particularly more space, will give us the capacity to continue to grow and to include wider sections of the community in our sport. This will include dedicated bowling sessions for vulnerable people who are looked after in their own homes or in residential care. We have a ramp and, in due course, will acquire a special wheelchair that will allow wheelchair users access to the green.

These extension plans are progressing steadily; the local authority has agreed to allocate additional land to the club and negotiations for a new 26 year lease are at an advanced stage. The application for planning permission has been made.

Part of the preparation for this major development is reviewing our policies, procedures and practices to ensure that we are doing everything possible to provide a safe environment for everyone who uses the club. This activity has highlighted the enormous benefits of a defibrillator.

How would this funding have an impact on your community?

We would use the funding to buy an automated external defibrillator (AED) for use in sudden cardiac arrest. In the UK there are more than 300,000 sudden cardiac arrests, outside hospital, every year. It is the most common cause of avoidable death. The current survival rate is less than 10% because the victim dies within minutes unless the right emergency treatment is available. Survival rates are significantly increased with an AED.
A cardiac arrest occurs when the heart stops pumping blood around the body and the victim stops breathing. The traditional emergency intervention is cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), with or without mouth to mouth breaths. More than 20 of our members have been trained in CPR but it is physically demanding and requires stamina and strength. Frankly, the chance of resuscitating a victim, and keeping him or her alive until the emergency services arrive, is practically nil. A defibrillator gives a high energy electric shock to the heart and, used in conjunction with CPR, is the essential lifesaving step in the chain of survival. It is widely acknowledged to be the only way a person can recover from a cardiac arrest. A range of effective treatments, including medication and pacemakers, is available to cardiac arrest survivors.
An AED is a portable user-friendly electronic device that automatically diagnoses potentially life-threatening heart rhythms. If the problem might respond positively to an electric shock the AED applies it. They have simple audio and visual instructions and can be used by anyone. No training is needed – a child can do it. AEDs can be purchased for little more than £500.00.
If this application is successful we will make the AED available for community use. It will require virtually no maintenance and the cost of replaceable parts will be met by the club. These are pads and a long life lithium battery. The AED should last for several years.
Our busy, well-used bowls club is an ideal location for a Public Access Defibrillator (PAD). Data published by “Heartsafe” reveals there are none in West End or the adjourning villages. The closest is 5 miles away; too far for emergency use. Defibrillators are becoming available in large supermarkets but there are no big shops in West End. Increasingly, doctors and dentist surgeries are acquiring defibrillators but these are only available in surgery hours. In contrast the bowls club is busiest at evenings and weekends. Accessibility will be greatly increased as the plans for the club extension are advanced.
It is difficult to put a number to the people who will benefit from having a PAD in the club. The incidence of sudden cardiac arrest increases with age, and 86% of our members are over 65 years old, so most are potential beneficiaries. We have as many visitors as members and the demographic is similar. This suggests that any of the 300 people using the club could benefit. The public access dimension extends the benefit to the whole village – amounting to 4.700 people.

"Joining the ‘West End Bowls Club’ has enabled me to make friends and meet people from my local community while enjoying a game of Bowls. The sociable and friendly nature of the club makes playing against other bowling teams at home or away enjoyable and worthwhile.

Alan – member who has been bowling for two seasons

What does West End Bowls Club mean to me: When I nursed my husband through cancer and when I suffered a heart attack, the support and friendship of my fellow bowlers was always given freely, proving to be a true lifeline.

Margaret - long term member and former committee member"

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