Who won what at our Annual Awards night?

25th February, 2023

The very best of bowls was celebrated at Bowls England’s annual Awards Night this past Saturday 25 February.

The great and good of our sport convened at the Athena in Leicester for this second edition of the event, which continues to go from strength to strength.

The evening highlights the tireless work that goes into make bowls what it is, with representatives from clubs and counties from Cornwall to Cumbria and everywhere inbetween.

After a momentous Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, the night kicked off with four awards – all sponsored by Aviva – that recognised the nation’s top elite players. Siblings Sophie and Sam Tolchard made it a family affair as they were named Female and Male Bowlers of the Year. In the Rising Star categories, Rebecca Moorbey and Harry Goodwin struck gold for their super performances across the year.

After starters and main courses, it was on to celebrating a number of heroes from bowls’ grass roots. With Bowls England’s volunteering programme going great guns, it was Rob Stanley of Worcestershire who took Bowls Maker of the Year, sponsored by Aviva. Then on home turf Leicestershire were handed County of the Year for one of the loudest cheers of the night. In the hotly-contested Greenkeeper of the Year category – sponsored by Dennis Mowers & SISIS – Graham Instone of Dunnington BC took the honours, largely for his innovative roadshows, sharing his knowledge with local clubs. David Rolls took Coach of the Year for his work across Gloucestershire before Francis Fletcher was named Umpire of the Year.

After a fabulous Commonwealth Games, members of England’s playing and support staff then took to the stage to reflect on a quite amazing medal haul at Birmingham 2022. Then with Potters donating a holiday for two the evening’s bingo was very popular to say the least!

In the final section of the evening, Berkshire’s Middleton Cup team won Team of the Year (sponsored by Aviva), with Colin Hirons then grabbing the Fit for the Future award, having helped Minehead BC create their first ever youth academy. Perhaps the biggest cheer of the evening came as Val Molton was handed the Unsung Hero award (sponsored by Aviva). Her club was given the opportunity to host a Walker Cup Regional Final, and she is a qualified coach and hugely respected bowler across Gloucestershire.

Equally well received was Avenue BC, Coventry’s victory in the Club of the Year category, sponsored by Sutton Winson. They had admirable achievements in local leagues with their men winning the Coventry 6 and women finishing second in their league – plus they won all trophies in their senior league.

As the crescendo for the evening, two very worthy individuals were handed the Certificate of Merit award for their lifelong contributions to the game. Edna Bessell MBE had no idea the award was coming and was overjoyed with emotion as she was rewarded for an incredible career at all levels of the game. Fellow recipient Stephen Jennings has been a member of Maulden Bowls Club since 1991 and in those thirty-one years has proven to be a successful player on the green at both club and county level. It is his contribution off the green that also made him a fitting recipient of this notable award.

And so that concluded a brilliant night for everyone in attendance! Congratulations must go to everyone nominated and here’s to another great year!

 England Female Bowler of the Year 2022
Sponsored by Aviva
Sophie Tolchard

England Male Bowler of the Year 2022
Sponsored by Aviva
Sam Tolchard

England Female Rising Star 2022
Sponsored by Aviva
Rebecca Moorbey

England Male Rising Star 2022
Sponsored by Aviva
Harry Goodwin

Bowls Maker of the Year 2022
Sponsored by Aviva
Rob Stanley

County of the Year 2022

Greenkeeper of the Year 2022
Sponsored by Dennis Mowers and SISIS
Graham Instone

Coach of the Year 2022
David Rolls

Umpire of the Year 2022
Francis Fletcher

Team of the Year 2022
Sponsored by Aviva
Middleton Cup Team, Berkshire

Fit for the Future 2022
Colin Hirons

Unsung Hero 2022
Sponsored by Aviva
Val Molton

Club of the Year 2022
Sponsored by Sutton Winson
Avenue Bowls Club, Coventry

Certificate of Merit 2022
Edna Bessell MBE

Certificate of Merit 2022
Stephen Jennings

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