Return to the Green Story – Alloa Co-operative BC

Many clubs across Scotland have received grants and funding which has provided a vital lifeline over the past 18 months and helped see them survive through the COVID pandemic. We spoke to Ian Smith, Secretary of Alloa Co-operative Bowling Club to hear about how these extra funds have benefitted the clubs’ members this season. This Clackmannanshire Club is one of 21 Bowls Scotland affiliated bowling clubs that fall in the lowest 5% of the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) it’s great to see the club altering membership fees to make bowls more accessible to the community.

After a tough season in 2020 with few members returning to the club despite the committees’ best efforts to reassure and encourage them with a reduced membership fee of just £25, the club decided to further reduce this offer for the 2021 season as Ian describes.

                “The Club was successful in getting a number of grants so to encourage new and existing members on to the green, with this additional financial support we were able to offer free full membership for season 2021 but this time advertising that in the local paper. Most members who could return have fortunately now returned while in addition we managed to attract around 12 new full members. Members new to the game were able to get a free set of bowls which were donated by Club members over the years …”

With no fees and some new members under their belt, the club’s membership is a fairly healthy 56 playing members, which could continue to grow with plans underway to put the money from grants into renovations around the club.

There have already been a number of small improvements made at Alloa Co-op’s Clubhouse, an A-listed building, to help adhere to COVID guidance and update facilities. These include installation of a ventilation system in the bar and the addition of French doors to improve ventilation around the clubhouse and allow better access. “We are also currently considering a revamp of our toilets to include disabled features.”

The committee were praised by returning members for “providing a safe environment” with much of the hard work done during the 2020 season which saw the installation of electronic hand sanitisers, a protective screen at the bar and the removal of extra seating to ensure social distancing.

“Due to COVID-19 Club members have been reluctant to resume our normal programme of  friendlies which can take us to various parts of the country and we very much look forward next year to resuming them and re-establishing old friendships.”

It hasn’t been easy but Ian and the committee at Alloa Co-operative BC are convinced that as members become more confident in COVID safety, they will be keen to again travel to play friendlies.

Thanks to Ian for sharing the club's story with us, to share your Return to the Green Story, contact us via info@bowlsscotland.com

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