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DBE visit to Whiteknights IBC

I recently visited Whiteknights IBC to meet some of their members and demonstrate the bowling aids and talk to them about disability bowls (writes Judy Plater, national development and administrative officer).

Whiteknights IBC is a very welcoming and inclusive club, with the encouragement of manager Andy Knapper and admin assistant Morgan Merryweather, disabled players have been encouraged to start bowls. The club has approximately 15 disabled players, two using wheelchairs and others with various physical and sensory conditions. Caversham Blind Bowlers meet at the club and once a month Wokingham Blind Bowlers also play.
The club works closely within its local community; their excellent website includes details of their taster session and lots of information for new bowlers. It really is a progressive, inclusive club, which encourages everyone to enjoy bowls from beginners to international standard.
I met a lovely gentleman called Robin and his wife, they have recently started bowling, but Robin has mild Parkinsons, balance issues and struggles to bend. With the aid of a walking stick and a bowls launcher, he was able to play and was thrilled to know he could play bowls. His wife wasn’t sure she would be able to bowl as she can’t bend as she has pain in her knees and was worried about dropping the woods. After trying the bowling arm, she was able to play. They are both now looking forward to making new friends at the club.
Another lady who has some mobility issues and already uses the Drake Pride bowling arm came to try the DHB Hacksaw arm. Another gentleman wanted to discuss the bowling arms as although he does not need one at the moment, he thinks he will in the long term, he was very impressed to see the equipment.
Jenny is a wheelchair user and wanted to discuss the types of wheelchairs available to use on the bowls green, she was able to see two of them, the Bowls Royce and Para Handy, which two of our players were using in the friendly fixture. I was able to talk her through all the options and I hope to see Jenny on the green.
These taster events are only possible through the support from the Peter Harrison Foundation, and we are very grateful for it.
In the afternoon, we had a five triple friendly fixture against the Whiteknights members. It was a great afternoon with laughter and banter heard across the green. With the DBE winning on three rinks, captain David Fisher, Adam Melloy and myself were the highest winning rink (Adam and David were brilliant!).
The DBE team was made up of players with a variety of disabilities, visual, learning and physical and the team included Commonwealth Games bronze medallists, Dave Fisher and Craig Bowler, and Jenny Sandford and Gill Platt who competed in the World Bowls Championships.
Jenny, Dave, John Hollowell and his wife Lidka, and Colin Wagstaff are part of the team representing DBE in the International Bowls for the Disabled World Championships in South Africa this month.
With such a strong team, DBE won the match comfortably. Whiteknights already have asked for a rematch.
DBE is an association for all players no matter what their age (one of the team was 15, another 70+).
If you are interested in joining us, please see our website for more information: www.disabilitybowlsengland.org.uk.
I was also invited by NIBA president Keith Thatcher to play in a county friendly fixture at Wellingborough IBC. This indoor season, Keith has made DBE his charity of the year and after the game, he presented the charity with a cheque for £1,250, a fantastic amount of money.
Wellingborough IBC is the home to some DBE members, including John Greaves who is part of club
side who reached the final of the Egham Trophy at Nottingham. The club also supplied three of the four players who qualified in the DBE Champion of Champions. John won the B8 section, Craig Bowler won the B6 section and Chris Gray won the unclassified section, congratulations to them all.
Northamptonshire has a number of clubs with thriving disability sections and bowlers, and it is great to see how inclusive they are.
Keith is carrying on collecting for us during the outdoor season, for which we are very grateful, without support like this the charity would not survive as donations and grants are its only source of funding, so a massive thank you to Keith and all those members of Northamptonshire County Indoor Bowls Association.

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