Return to the Green Story: Stuartfield BC

One of our key messages to clubs at the start of the 2021 season was to be respectful of Covid guidance and to reassure members as they came back to bowling after the winter lockdowns, one club in the Buchan area has done exactly this. The members of Stuartfield Bowling Club prepared this story for us, covering the impacts of the pandemic on this small club and how a lifeline of funding has helped them this year. Bowls Scotland would like to thank Eileen Watt, Norman Byiers and the other members of ‘Crichie’ BC for sharing their story with us.

"Stuartfield Bowling Club was founded in 1961, making this year its Diamond Anniversary. It is the only recreational club in the village, catering for all ages and abilities. Some members travel from outwith the area to play.

The village is known as “Crichie”, derived from the name of the local estate whose owner Burnett-Stuart designed the original village which was in turn named Stuartfield. During the first Covid lockdown a team of volunteers known as “Crichie Carers” was formed to ensure all residents were cared for in respect of shopping, collecting prescriptions etc., and they were issued with appropriate signs to display in their windows. New friendships have been formed and, although some cases have been identified, there is a sense of relief that there have been no losses.

Last season, following Bowls Scotland guidelines, the Club played bounce games on what would normally have been the Hat-Nights. The majority of members turned out and agreed to pay 50% of the usual annual subscription.

This season all our past members returned, and we have gained 3 new – bringing the total to 15. Our normal club competitions are being played, still under the relevant guidelines. Buchan Bowling Association competitions are being played under a revised format, but very few local tournaments are taking place. Some of our members do not feel comfortable playing on other greens, and the decision as to whether or not they do so is understood and respected.

We continue our drive to recruit new members. A banner was displayed showing we had started again, along with Hat-Night and contact details, and this attracted our 3 new members. Two of them are using spare bowls we supplied, and the other purchased a set for £10.00 in a charity shop! They are being coached and encouraged for the remainder of the season and have pledged to play a full part next year.   

The grant application was relatively straightforward, and any query was quickly and efficiently dealt with by our NDO Stuart Bell. We simply would not have survived without the money we received, as it amounted to the equivalent of our bank balance at the end of the season. It has been used mainly for the upkeep and maintenance of the green in the form of fertiliser etc., mower service and repairs, tools, and also new jacks, mats, and bowl gatherers which will be of special benefit to the members we have with various disabilities.

Next season we hope to return to normal by fielding a Buchan Association League team, playing in Scottish competitions, and entering local tournaments. We also hope to hold our annual end-of-season Open Day when non-bowlers take part with a trophy at stake. We have no winter activities, but some members play at the Indoor Stadium in a nearby village which keeps them within contact, and in February we visit another stadium with friends for an afternoon of bowling followed by a meal – always an enjoyable social outing!

Like many clubs, membership numbers are our prime concern and we can only hope for continued support from our existing members along with interest from new ones."

Stuartfield BC's "Green Gnomes" pictured above.

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