Allandale BC Club Story
In 2021 Bowls Scotland began sharing Return to the Green stories to find out how clubs were supporting their members and keeping communities connected during COVID. This year we are keen to continue sharing news and stories from our clubs and members. We caught up with Stephen Grant Past President of Allandale BC who explained that by adopting more structured policies and procedures, the committee has been able to put plans in place over the past few seasons to make sure the club is enjoyed by all, both on and off the green!
“Last year was pretty good for us to be honest, we had challenges like every club, but it was ok. We offered a discount for the members as a thank you for their loyalty over COVID. We worked with the local authority and secured funding during COVID. Last year we started to be more proactive with getting the community involved in the club where we could, we recruited a development coordinator onto the committee and despite the restrictions, we got around 60 new social members in the club! We were also able to run a few competitions and tournaments at the club within restrictions.” Due to uneven distribution of male and female members, these were held as open competitions, giving the ladies who wanted to bowl competitively the opportunity to play more frequently.
Allandale are already signed up to be a Try Bowls Club this season and have plans to introduce their new social members to the sport as well as to hold events to welcome more newcomers to the club as Stevie explained: “We’ve been trying to have a proper Try Bowls event for two years!! We have occasions throughout the season where we invite our social members to come along and try bowls. Friday nights are like a fun night, the old fashioned ‘hat nights’ if you like, we invite people along to have a go and introduce them to the sport.”
Like many clubs there is a focus to bring more juniors and women into the club. The current ladies’ members regularly attend the Friday hat nights and Stevie believes this fun, open to all environment is a great way to increase membership. Allandale has good relationships with a football academy that neighbours the bowling club and hope to invite a lot of the children and families along to their Try Bowls days in 2022 by handing out leaflets at training sessions. The club have created a welcome pack for new members, which can be sent digitally, introducing newcomers to key members of the club and outlining some club history.
“For us, the club has got to be a safe environment, a positive environment for males and females. For so many years, like many bowling clubs, it was ladies’ competitions and gents’ competitions, ladies’ night was a Tuesday night and gents’ night was a Friday… last year we put a focus on changing that and integrating the club, making sure that anybody can play at anytime on any day. Right from the start of last season we hammered home that anybody’s welcome on a Friday night and now we’ve got a group of maybe 6 or 7 ladies who come every Friday and throughout the winter for our carpet bowls it’s been the same. It’s about getting the message out that it’s for everyone.”
“Two or three years ago as a club we sat down and planned things out a bit, how to engage with the community, what we needed to do as a club to introduce new members and bring down the average age demographic of our members. As a club we set objectives and targets and as part of that we recognised that we didn’t really have an appropriate coaching structure in place, we looked into policies and things we were spending money on. For example we were spending money regularly to fix an old mower which wasn’t at all cost effective. Now we’ve got a new mower, have had coaches trained, they’ve been through child protection training, we’ve put policies in place for the club with templates and help from Bowls Scotland and Stuart (Bell, National Development Officer) it’s been a process over a couple of years but we’re in a better place.”
The club received funding in December 2021 to go towards modernising the club’s facilities. As part of the clubs 5-year plan, the hall and bar at the club are in line to receive some improvements thanks to the funding received, but there are also improvements planned externally to fit the green with an irrigation system. “Ultimately we need to provide a really good bowling surface for our members, and we want to build up our reputation in the district.”
At their recent AGM the club proposed a 3-year management committee rather than the traditional president and vice-president, Stevie explained more “they basically have the responsibility that the president roles have but provide stability to the club for three years, so have more time to start planning and ensuring continuity and vision for the club.”
Other plans for Allandale’s committee this year include starting the journey to become a BowlsMark club, Stuart Bell has worked closely with the club as National Development Officer and believes they are already well on their way to achieving the first award. “BowlsMark recognises and rewards clubs for good practice, by working towards their bronze award Allandale will prove they have policies and constitutions in place which ensure the club is a safe and welcoming place for people to come.” Allandale have also raised funds to install a defibrillator at the club, through St John Scotland, which will be mounted externally so that it can be accessed by the surrounding community, and have arranged for First Aid training. The club annually appoints a Local Charity to support, and in 2021 raised £2000 for Driving Force, a charity providing transport to cancer patients to and from hospital appointments.
Bowls Scotland are excited to see what comes next for Allandale with improvements being made to facilities, and a progressive and dedicated team of volunteers in the committee whose focus on inclusivity and engaging the community is brilliant to see. Thanks to Stevie for sharing his story with us. Get in touch with our Marketing Officer, Ash on firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to share a story from your club this season.