Return to the Green Story: Clackmannan BC

Many bowling club members and volunteers across the country used the lockdowns over the last year and a half to help make improvements to their facilities. From implementing one-way systems to allow re-opening under covid guidelines to structural changes and improvements, we’ve loved seeing the transformations and investments to the clubs and greens all over Scotland. With two members of the club working on the frontline for the NHS during the pandemic, Clackmannan BC took part in Bowls Scotland’s Thank You Frontline Workers Campaign and extended membership offers into this season.

We spoke to Ricky Bond, President of Clackmannan Bowling Club to hear about how making the most of funding from community grants has shaped change at their club recently. “In early 2020 we received a local community empowerment grant and fitted a new kitchen but we were unable to use as it was completed just before COVID hit. During COVID when things opened up a bit we did a complete refit of the locker room, freshened up the committee room and hallway. Externally, the planned works to upgrade the green were carried out and we fitted new edging to the green, laid new turf, bought new benches and members gave donations to fit plaques in memory of past bowlers. We were given a number of barrels – some of which members sponsored and planted with bedding plants. Others were painted by members and kept upright to be used as outside drinks tables at the head of the rinks… we also painted the external fencing as well as the front of Clubhouse – basically anything that was made of wood we painted it!! In March 2021 we replaced all the tables and chairs in the club house and were lucky to receive an Awards For Al grant to fit brand new ladies toilets and just recently we were awarded a further Community Empowerment Grant to refit the gents and disabled toilets which we are hoping to be complete by end September. We have been lucky as were other clubs to receive strategic framework grants which has helped immensely to keep the building maintained. Our hardworking team of volunteers have been committed to keeping the green and surrounding grounds looking fabulous, in particular Derek Wallace Snr our Greenkeeper has gone above and beyond to make the green look as good as it does. It has been well admired by the community as well as appreciated by club members”

Treasurer Kathryn Clark spoke of Clackmannan’s committees plans to position their club at the centre of the community, making use of these updated facilities to host events. “As we were lucky to receive community funding we are encouraging community use and when the toilets are all finished we anticipate a busy winter in the club with fundraisers and private functions as well as club events. We held 2 successful events as soon as we went into level 1. Member Derek Wallace Jnr held a competition with his workmates against the members and from this we gained new members to the sport. Members Derek & Tracy Crews celebrated a wedding anniversary with a family party at the club.”

The club boasts a varied membership and before Covid was regularly hosting sessions for young adults from Scottish Autism with the support from their carers to play bowls and we look forward to having them back when safe to do so. With members ranging from Kevin Wallace who currently plays in the Bowls Scotland High Performance squad through to a healthy junior’s section, the club offers something for everyone. Kevin said that it has been great to see the hard work the committee have put into the club and to see members working together and improving the green and club facilities for everyone.

Most members were able to return to the green this season, including some new members; “It has been great to see folks back and we increased our rink nights to 2 nights a week and both have been well attended.” The committee believe new members and enquiries have been drawn to the club because the green and clubhouse is looking so good. Visible from the road, people can hear and see the relaxed approach to enjoying a game on the green. Many come to watch a game or pop into the for a drink, enjoying the improved facilities. “We’re trying to be as inclusive and open as we can to the community – Covid gave us the opportunity to change things (because we had to) but we’ve come out of it better off. You hear people around Clackmannan talking about it because the club looks fun and looks friendly.”

One of the new members this season who enquired after spotting a ‘new members welcome’ sign on the gates of the club also sings the praises of the committee, not only feeling safe thanks to the clubs Covid compliance but also enjoying all aspects of club life: “I can honestly say that I have been made most welcome by all members and am enjoying playing bowls… socialising, the fresh air and even the exercise!”

There are 2 Junior Coaches at the club, Kathryn Clark and Marie Kernaghen and there is a growing Juniors Section with fun training sessions held every Tuesday. “With the help of Clackmannanshire Council Sport Development Team and Clackmannan Development Trust we advertised sessions after school. We have had a steady 12 primary school and 8 Highschool pupils coming along. Stuart Bell (National Development Officer for the area) helped out by demonstrating fun games to get them started but the icing on the cake is seeing the high school kids develop and enjoy the game. We are all looking forward to the club entering junior competitions next year. We were visited by Clackmannan Council Sports Development Officer, Greg Welsh recently who presented us with a cheque for £500 which we will use to buy bowling shoes for the juniors and next year help with transport when we start competing.”

Clackmannan BC is a great example of how making the most of grants and funding can improve club facilities, increase enjoyment for members and spark interest amongst the community. Bowls Scotland thank the committee for their time sharing the club’s 2021 story with us and look forward to seeing how this District 9 club continues to grow by positioning itself at the heart of the community.

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