Bowls England’s Annual General Meeting took place on Saturday 25 February, with a number of important discussions taking place at Goodwood Bowls Club in Leicester.
2022 Annual Report and Financial Information
Chairman David Tucker reflected on a momentous twelve months for the sport, including what he described as the ‘once in a lifetime’ experience of a home Commonwealth Games with great success for the England teams, and the Board’s gratitude for the continued help and support of volunteers across the sport.
Building upon those themes, Chief Executive Jon Cockcroft presented the 2022 Annual Report around the five key pillars which make up the Fit for the Future strategy. He highlighted the progress that had been made particularly in terms of building the brand of bowls on the back of a home Commonwealth Games and making our sport truly accessible with the development of Bowls Bash and the PlayBowls platform. In addition, he was keen to highlight how the sport is working cross-code and growing relations with Disability Bowls England. He also took the opportunity to reflect on how Bowls England reacted to the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, paying our respects during the National Finals.
Bowls England Director of Finance Stephen Hemsley delivered the company’s Financial Report, highlighting among other things the significance of Sport England funding, and the importance of the Club Loans facility to allow clubs to access funding. He explained that Bowls England had drawn down significant reserves to invest in the growth of the sport, but that we needed to return to surplus in 2023/24.
Central to the agenda were votes on proposals relating to Affiliation and the 2023 National Competitions and Championships, including the National Finals.
Following discussions at the Counties’ Conference, the Bowls England board proposed a £2 increase in affiliation fees from the 2024 season to help deliver the sport’s Fit for the Future strategy and were pleased to receive strong support for the proposition.
Whilst we are making positive strides in reducing our reliance on affiliation by growing our commercial income, and securing more government support, to continue the level of investment into our Fit for the Future strategy, it is important we address the significant real terms decline in affiliation income. This has all been put into sharper focus with the current economic climate. We are grateful for the strong support from those voting at the AGM and will continue to share progress against our strategy at regular intervals. We will work hard with affiliated clubs to grow participation, which is the best way of keeping the costs of playing our sport very low, and to ensure they are maximizing the opportunities that come from being affiliated.
National Championships and Competitions
The Bowls England board also asked the membership to ratify plans for the 2023 National Championships and Competitions, which were announced in December. The motion was passed, which means this year’s programme can move forward as advertised, and the Competitions Working Party can progress its work without any constraints. With this proposal being passed, alternatives from Worcestershire and Dorset were not subject to a vote.
Ahead of the AGM, the venue was a fitting location to welcome new President Deepak Tanna, a member of Goodwood BC, who was given a hearty welcome by the outgoing Terri Keen. Deepak was keen to thank Terri, and also shared that ‘taking on this role at my own club and in my own county is humungous and it is my honour to serve you.’ New Senior Vice President David King Taylor and Junior Vice President Sheila Storey were also officially invested at the start of their tenures.
After the AGM concluded, Bowls England shared some of its latest plans for the 2023 season. Head of Sport Development Alistair Hollis and Clubs & Participation Officer Jasbir Batt presented updates on Bowls’ Big Weekend, Bowls Bash and Play Bowls, reflecting on successes and improvements from 2022. Alistair stressed the mportance of clubs working together within the same county, while Jas stressed ‘as a collective we can make a difference.’ Lastly Jon Cockcroft spoke about National Finals 2023 including plans to bring more club and county players along as spectators, in conjunction with new sponsors Aviva.