Return to the Green Story: Howie BC

Howie BC in Prestwick has been making local headlines recently, with articles featuring in both the Ayrshire Post and the Ayr Advertiser. Bowls Scotland spoke to Ian Robertson, Club Secretary and George Gallacher, one of the Clubs’ Coaches, to hear more about the “Howie Hedgehogs” and the clubs’ visually impaired bowlers.

The Junior Section of the club started in 2016 with just a single member and has grown over the years with around 40 juniors passing through the club in the last five years. Numbers have dropped slightly over the last season due to Covid, but numbers still stand at a healthy 12 junior bowlers. The children were invited to come up with their own name for the juniors’ section and the ‘Howie Hedgehogs’ were born!

Thanks to the more relaxed restrictions coming out of lockdown for youths, the Howie Hedgehogs were able to take to the greens at Northfield, Ayr for Ayrshire South District’s SYBA Qualifier Event in the end of July. The Hedgehogs narrowly missed out in qualifying for the National Finals with defeats in the final rounds of both the triples and pairs. The pairs came down to a nail-biting final bowl of the match to see Auchinleck take the win, a young team of Hedgehogs also lost out in the triples. The SYBA National Finals are scheduled to take place at the end of August and start of September.

The Howie Hedgehogs are also highly competitive in internal club events and are invited to take part in open events at the Prestwick club too. Luke Jones and Lewis Glover still hold the title of Nominated Pairs champions since their victory in 2019! Other events at the club include the Junior Singles Championships and Family Pairs – with a juniors section that is thriving, it’s easy to see why the club has seen parents join the club to take up the sport and play alongside their children.

Highlighting the power of bowls as a sport that is accessible to all, George Gallacher coaches a group of five visually impaired bowlers every Friday, 1 – 3pm, at Howie BC. “They have a cup of tea and then a game which they really enjoy.” The group is made up of two B1 bowlers, a classification laid out by para-sport for individuals who are totally or almost totally blind, and three others of varying degrees of visual impairment.

After the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic it is great to see success stories coming from bowls clubs across Scotland. Clubs like Prestwick Howie that promote the inclusivity and accessibility of bowls really show the importance of clubs within the community. Involving juniors in club competitions is a great way to grow the sport and protect clubs for future generations, thanks to Ian and George for sharing their news with us.     

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