Insch Institute BC Club Story

Throughout 2022 we have shared good practice and celebrated the successes of bowling clubs all over Scotland through our Club Stories.

At the start of the 2022 season the outlook was an uncertain one for Insch Institute BC in Aberdeenshire who were struggling for members and facing closure if numbers didn’t improve. With support from Stuart Bell, the National Development Officer for the region and a lot of hard work and determination from the few committee and members they had, we are delighted to now share this uplifting story of resilience from this small but mighty bowling club. We spoke to Barry Hoper, Secretary of the club to find out how the clubs’ Try Bowls initiative has improved their membership figures this year.

“Our greatest achievement this season, thanks to the Try Bowls event, was for the Club to survive. Without the success of the event, Insch Institute Bowling Club would have closed after nearly 100 years in existence.  

“We decided to take up the event after attending the Bowls Scotland meetings at the Garioch Indoor Bowls Club.  We advertised the event on our Facebook page and the Insch Community Facebook page.  We also had 1000 posters printed and volunteers put them through all the doors in Insch and some of the neighbouring villages.  All 6 of our club members helped Stuart Bell on the day to welcome visitors.  We had in excess of 40 people turn up to the event and 22 went on to join the Club and play outdoor bowls. The indoor season at the club has attracted many of these new members and our hat nights attract an average of 20 players; about the maximum we can accommodate indoors.”

The leaflets circulated amongst the community not only promoted a fun, inclusive opportunity to try our sport, but also explained the dire straits the club was in and used emotive language, appealing to the wider Insch community to support their local club. With new members secured and hope now on the horizon for the clubs’ centenary in a few years’ time we asked Barry what the plans were for the 2023 season.

“We now have a full committee again with Bill Leslie as our new and enthusiastic President; my job as interim President I considered was achieved. Importantly, one of the new members signed up at the event is now our greenkeeper as he has the necessary expertise... We are now looking forward with optimism to the 2023 outdoor season. We intend to field a league team thanks to all our new members and are in the process of acquiring a new strip for the team. We have already asked for another Try Bowls event next Spring. Growing the membership is vital to the Club's survival and for retaining a valuable sporting and community hub for the village. We are determined to celebrate the Club's Centenary in a couple of years' time. Bowling is a great sport that can be enjoyed by all ages and provides a perfect way to meet people from the area and to make new friends.”

Proud of the effort put in by Barry and the other members during this all-or-nothing year, Stuart Bell said: “Thanks to the club’s attendance at the joint meeting with Aberdeenshire Council, the club decided to give it another year. The six members all stepped up and their sense of belief in their club was rewarded on the Try Bowls day by the local community. Doesn’t matter if you’re a big or a small club, Try Bowls works, all it takes is for your club to open its door to the local community.” 

Thanks go to Barry and all the members of Insch Institute for sharing their incredible 2022 story with us. We wish the club and it’s members every success as we move into 2023 and beyond…

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