A Little bit of History
Our bowls club has been located in Central Bicester for over 160 years, and at its present location in Garth Park for almost 70 years. During that time, it has provided the local community with sports and leisure facilities and somewhere to hold their group meetings, social events and parties for family and loved ones.
We provide active recreation for a number of older members who, without the bowls club would have little else in way of physical exercise, which we know promotes well being and good mental health by providing social interaction and community support, all vital in today’s society.
The effect COVID-19 has had on our club
In these uncertain and difficult times, like many other organisations, we have been unable to run our normal matches, events and other club activities. Unfortunately, we were also unable to have our normal open days or allow prospective new bowlers to come and have a try.
As a result, we have been unable to expand our current membership, play any competitive or social bowls, open the clubhouse for our other users or hold any parties or other events. These are our life blood financially and not only sustain the club but allow us to continue providing a community hub with health and well being benefits, bringing the community together and supporting activities, not only for our membership but for a number of other organisations and local residents.
Like our Annual Christmas Carol concert be.
We are not a business and the club is run totally by volunteers. It is run on a not for profit basis putting any monies made back into the club, improving the facilities for the use of our members and local community. Unfortunately, we are therefore not eligible for any of the Government schemes which are designed to support businesses through this pandemic.
As a result, we have had to put on hold many important regeneration, maintenance and development projects designed to improve the facilities. Due to the age of our building and its infrastructure these have now become critically important to our continuing to provide the services that we do.
Why we need the Money
So, we need to raise over £10,000 to cover the cost of all the projects we need to complete to achieve our goals which include: -
- Repair damage to a large section of the wall around the green & replace slabs
- Essential electrical safety work including updating lighting to more environmentally friendly LED’s
- Repairs and redecoration necessary as a condition of our lease renewal
- Upgrade work on our very old heating boiler
- Security upgrades on our external doors
This may appear to be a large amount of money but we have to carry out extensive work on the clubhouse and green.
This work is essential and with no income being generated during lock down from memberships and social bar/functions, we are appealing to friends, supporters and the local business community to support us in raising this.
Help from Elsewhere
Sport England, with the support of Bowls England, has launched a scheme called ‘Active Together’ to help local sports clubs through the COVID-19 crisis. If successful with our application, we may receive up to 50% of our £10,010 target from Sport England. To achieve this, we need to reach our target and obtain 75 supporters so every donation is critical!
That’s not all, we plan to carry out an intensive promotion campaign with a view of increasing our membership and publicising our facilities and community activities. This will include utilising the community stall in the Bicester's Friday market and other extensive advertising. In particular we want to increase our female membership and support the ‘Woman Can’ initiative currently being run by the Bowls Development Alliance. We are also keen to increase our junior membership in a sport which is usually seen as one for older more mature people.
Promoting Independence and Functional Ability
The Bowls club is a huge benefit to the existing members. A characteristic of health and well-being is the ability to move freely and independently. Because of biological changes that occur during ageing, many older adults lose their functional ability and as such cannot complete day-to-day activities. Exercise such as lawn bowls helps them maintain and improve important daily functional ability such as stability, mobility and above all else, provide confidence in your own physical capabilities.
Being more capable of participating in everyday tasks helps to increase confidence, self-esteem, mental health and social relationships (meeting with friends and so on). Our club offers all of this and we want it to continue to be a place of well being, social care and community congregation.
Naturally attracting a mature audience, we hope for families to come together, with younger members interacting and helping our membership to thrive in a place where they can build their physical strength, co-ordination, agility and mobility, cognitive brain and nervous system power and promote the longevity of their body’s health, as well as be a part of a team.
Whilst bowls is one of the most inclusive sports available played by all ages and backgrounds, we can do more to promote the game and encourage people from all walks of life to come and give it a try.
There are many different reasons why woman decide not to participate in bowls. With the slogan ‘Women Bowl Too – Lets close the gap’ we are putting our full support behind the ‘Woman Can’ campaign from Bowls England by providing female mentors and coaches to encourage female members to come and try the game. Our goal is to increase our proportionate female membership in line with the national target of 41% by the end of next year.
Also, we are looking to create partnerships with local schools and colleges to provide ‘taster’ sessions for young people. Not all kids can or feel comfortable playing what might be deemed as ‘more energetic’ sports so bowls gives them an opportunity to get active whilst building confidence and self esteem.
Finally, bowls is one of the few sports where disabled players can compete against more able bowlers. It is therefore our hope to provide specific sessions for disability groups in the area where they can come and bowl alongside our current membership. Some of our monies will go to improving disabled access to the green and clubhouse and provide equipment to assist less able people in participating in the game of bowls.
Finally the Plea
We are appealing to friends, supporters and the local business community to help us in this mammoth task.
I hope that you or your business/organisation are in a position to assist us with this project and help us support our local community and members by ensuring the availability of our facilities for many more years to come.
So please support us in raising these much needed funds Or providing items or services we can utilise as rewards for others who wish to donate.