West End Bowls Club

Rosewood Way, West End Woking GU24 9PF

Your story

A friendly neighbourhood lawn bowling club, run entirely by volunteers, which is currently introducing additional activities in order to make its facilities more widely available to the local community

Group introduction

We are a thriving lawn green bowling club run by members for the benefit of the surrounding community. The club supports lawn bowlers at all levels - from absolute beginners to players able to compete at national level. We have an excellent bowling green, an ethos of continuous improvement and a reputation for hospitality and inclusiveness.
The green and premises are leased from the local authority and the club is 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. We have recently negotiated a new 26 year lease to secure the future of the club.

The club is extremely busy throughout the outdoor bowling season (mid-April to late September) when it 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. Because the green is maintained to a high quality it is always in demand so, in addition to its own activities, the club hosts a number of prestigious bowling events each year.

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. About half our playing members are relatively new to the game. Many older members have remained involved as social members and a range of social activities have been introduced accordingly.
As the membership outgrew the premises and it became impossible to accommodate everyone at the same time it was decided to embark on a major extension of the clubhouse. This was to retain the inclusive nature of the club and to provide facilities which could be available for all year round use instead of being restricted to the summer months.
The extension project is coming to an end and we now have premises which, as well as being large enough to house the current membership and visitors, are suitable for short mat bowls. This is an indoor activity, related to lawn green bowls, which requires less physical strength so is suitable for older people.

The extended clubhouse also gives the club the capacity to introduce a variety of additional activities for the community. We have already introduced pilates and yoga classes which do not require financial investment. We would now like to introduce bridge but the equipment cost, at just over £500.00, precludes this at present. We have qualified bridge teachers among our membership who are willing to run classes and bridge drives, but the club's financial resources have been drained by the extension project.

How would this funding have an impact on your community?

If this application is successful the club will purchase 10 bridge tables, bidding boxes and playing cards. This would enable it to run a bridge drive this autumn and then establish this as a regular event. The necessary expertise is already available at no cost.
Introducing bridge at the club would be a means of inviting more people in the community to make use of the bowls club facilities. It would enable the people of West End Village to benefit more directly from what is now a valuable and attractive resource. It would be a contribution to increasing the all year round use of the premises.
It is firmly established that a combination of physical and mental activity is important in keeping the brain sharp and in delaying the negative impact of aging. Both can prolong the health, mobility and independence of older people, as well as reducing social isolation.
Many young and working age people play bowls, particularly at the highest level, but in community based bowls clubs the age profile veers towards older folk. At West End Bowls Club 75% of the membership are in the older range and bowling is evidently their main physical activity.
Bridge is ideal for maintaining mental activity and, although, there are bridge players in the locality there is no formal bridge club.
Both activities take place in safe environments which are comfortable for single people and couples alike. Indeed both attract members who have been bereaved and seek structured activity to combat feelings of social isolation and the illnesses which often accompany them.
The availability of more support for vulnerable people, both in terms of encouraging a healthy lifestyle and alleviating social isolation, is impossible to estimate.
Holding both activities in the same place, involving some of the same people, could be powerful in attracting participants in one activity to the other. Arguably, bringing bowls and bridge together could be a marriage made in heaven!
It is difficult to put a number to the people who would benefit from introducing bridge to the bowls club. There are about 5000 people living in West End Village and this is increasing. If 40 decided to benefit from the availability of bridge, and that is a realistic number, the benefits of the bowls club to the community would be significantly extended.

""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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