The Bowls England Awards are a chance to celebrate and recognise outstanding efforts across our sport over the past 12 months. There are 15 awards up for grabs and we welcome nominations from everyone in our sport. Some of the awards will be decided by an expert panel, others by a public vote. All awards will be presented at the Awards Night which will take place at the majestic Athena in Leicester on Saturday 24th February 2024.
Here are the list of our 15 Awards. Have a read and get nominating!
The Nominations close on Monday 27th November 2023 at 9.00am.
This is Bowls England’s most prestigious award. Our equivalent to a Lifetime Achievement Award, this will recognise someone who has made an outstanding contribution to our sport at club or county level over an extended period of time.
Nominations are open to clubs and County Associations. A Bowls England expert panel will decide the shortlist and winner. To make a nomination for Certificate of Merit, please click here.
2022 Winners: Edna Bessell MBE and Stephen Jennings
Edna has been a fantastic servant to the sport of Bowls, both on and off the green. Her International playing successes include 9 medals at International Events and her International playing career covered 10 seasons. In addition, her roll of National Championship and County Competition achievements are too numerous to list!
She was awarded Ladies Bowler of the year in 1991 and again in 2008 and an MBE for her service to bowls in 2012. Off the green, Edna was BE’s Women’s Senior Team Manager from 2011 to 2016 leading the English team to three Home International Championships.
She was also an integral part of the Management Team at several major international events, including the Commonwealth Games and the World Championships. She’s managed Somerset’s performance teams since 2010, and the 2022 Awards was the right time to honour this incredible lady for three decades of service to county and country.
Stephen has been a member of Maulden Bowls Club since 1991 and in those thirty-two 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 makes him a fitting recipient of this notable award.
Over thirty-two years his contribution to bowls, either at club or county level has been significant. His enthusiasm and commitment to the game can be summed up thus: “It is about providing a service for others to enjoy themselves and the promotion of the game of bowls”. That is what is important to Steve.
Having been secretary at Maulden BC since 1992, he has also been Club Captain on eight occasions, Fixtures Secretary and Bar Chairman numerous times! On top of that, he has held many roles with the East Beds League, including secretary since 1994 and President three times.
A builder by trade, and he frequently involves himself in maintenance work around the clubhouse and is also now Head Greenkeeper! With this the club’s Centenary Year in 2022, it was a fitting time to celebrate a man who has given so much to his club.
“You make a living from what you get. You make a life from what you give.” Our sport is full of people who work tirelessly behind the scenes. This accolade will recognise someone who has contributed impressively to any area of voluntary activity to support the delivery of our sport over the last 12 months.
Nominations are open to clubs and County Associations. The shortlist will be decided by an expert panel and then be put to an online vote to decide the winner. To make a nomination for Unsung Hero, please click here.
2022 Winner: Val Molton (Kingswood & Hanham BC, Gloucestershire)
Club Secretary for Kingswood & Hanham BC, Val Molton has been driven to keep the club running smoothly while promoting the club to increase its membership. She has led the club’s efforts during 2021 and 2022 Bowls’ Big Weekend events and organised appealing sessions to new people. The club has gained over 30 new members from the National initiative with Val playing a key role in making the event so successful at her club.
Several other Gloucestershire clubs have gained from Val’s guidance on running their own 2022 Bowls’ Big Weekend events.
The same drive and organisation by Val was evident when Kingswood and Hanham BC was given the opportunity to host one of the Walker Cup Regional Finals in July 2022. Even though she was herself playing in the Gloucestershire team, Val’s capacity to ‘go up through her gears’ and to multitask, clicked in once again. She made sure that a brilliant day was provided by the club to the four counties and their supporters.
Val qualified for the National Finals at Leamington Spa in five competitions in 2021. She is recognised as one the top players in Gloucestershire and represents their women’s team in all competitive events. With all of her playing commitments, Val still tirelessly ensures that she completes her multiple club responsibilities.
Being a qualified coach and highly respected bowler across Gloucestershire, Val was asked to become their Amy Rose Team Manager. She brought great enthusiasm and team spirit into the squad. Over two years, it is evident that the young bowlers playing skills and knowledge has been enhanced thanks to Val’s coaching and experience of playing at a high level.
Elsewhere in Gloucestershire, Val has become a member of the county’s governing committee. In 2022, she took the initiative to complete the design of a striking new county uniform and also became a member of an Executive Sub-Committee tasked with a complete review of Gloucestershire’s county structure and governance, to which she brings new perspectives from both her professional and business experience.
The outstanding male and female bowler who have represented England in senior international bowls, or performed exceptionally in 2023 national domestic competition. After outstanding performances in British Isles and World Championships, this will be fiercely contested.
Nominations for this award are decided by England players, management staff and the international selectors.
2022 Male Winner: Sam Tolchard
2022 will live long in the memory for Devon star Sam Tolchard who claimed his first world title with victory in the World Champion of Champions in addition to Silver and Bronze medals won at the Commonwealth Games.
In a close-fought final, Sam ditched the jack with the last bowl of the final to score two shots and secure the title.
Sam also retained the National Two-Bowl Singles title at the Bowls England National Finals with a superb display of draw bowling throughout the competition.
2022 Female Winner: Sophie Tolchard
Sophie competed at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games where she shone alongside Amy Pharaoh throughout the Women’s Pairs with a series of stunning performances – narrowly missing out on a Gold Medal in a thrilling final that enthralled the watching audience both at Victoria Park and on the BBC.
She continued that fine form by teaming up with Harriet Stevens to win the National Pairs on her return to domestic competition, whilst also playing a key role as Kings BC won the Women’s Top Club for a fourth successive year.
The outstanding male and female bowler (under 25 at 1 April 2023) who have represented England in junior international bowls, or performed exceptionally in 2023 national domestic competition.
Nominations for this award are decided by England players, management staff and the international selectors.
2022 Male Winner: Harry Goodwin
Harry’s bowls career continued its upward curve with another successful season at national and international level in 2022. At the National Finals he claimed his first National Singles title after a thrilling win in the final of the Men’s Champion of Champions, and also played a starring role as he helped his county, Kent, to win the White Rose Trophy.
At international level, Harry was an integral member of our team that won the Overall Title at the 2022 European Championships while claiming a silver medal in the Men’s Fours.
2022 Female Winner: Rebecca Moorbey
Rebecca was the talk of the Nationals Finals last summer. The Huntingdonshire ace claimed the Junior Singles title with victory over Somerset’s Olivia Starr and followed it up seven days later by claiming the Four-Wood Singles after beating Essex’s Elaine Score in the final. This feat as only been achieved once before – by Sophie Tolchard in 2015.
She has also reached the semi-finals of the National Pairs with partner Chloe Brett during a fantastic couple of weeks at our National Finals.
There’s little better than the camaraderie of being part of a team. This award recognises the team that has performed admirably on the green over the past 12 month, at national, county or club level. That could be a team of any size, from Pairs all the way up to a Middleton or Johns.
This award is open to all teams, whose players are affiliated to Bowls England. A team can nominate itself of it can be nominated by its club or County Association. The shortlist and winner will be decided by an expert panel. To make a nomination for Team of the Year, please click here.
2022 Winner: Berkshire’s Middleton Cup squad
Berkshire took their third Middleton Cup triumph in 2022. This one though felt extra special for the county. The squad performed at a high level consistently throughout the competition and took a relentless approach in each round in pursuit of their goal.
Playing with incredible team spirit, players from three of the strongest clubs in Berkshire combined as one unbeatable unit. They all played for each other in every match.
Led by team manager Ray Nash, Berkshire won the Middleton Cup by outscoring their opponents with an average of 130 shots to 90 over five matches. Ray’s desire and hunger to win rubbed off on the squad as he saw Berkshire win each match in emphatic style.
Clubs are the heartbeat of our sport, so which of our 2000 clubs will follow Avenue BC (Coventry) and receive this year’s coveted title? This award celebrate clubs that have made the most significant contribution over the last 12 months across all facets of club management and development.
This award is open to all clubs which are affiliated to Bowls England. A club can nominate itself or be nominated by their County Association. The shortlist and winner will be decided by an expert panel. To make a nomination for Club of the Year, please click here.
2022 Winner: Avenue Coventry BC (Warwickshire)
Avenue Coventry BC enjoyed fantastic success both on and off the green in 2022. They had admirable achievements in local leagues with their men winning the Coventry 6 league and the women finishing second in the Coventry league. They swept the board and won all possible trophies in the local senior league.
Avenue Coventry also had a four win the Men’s County Fours resulting in them qualifying for the National Finals.
Off the green, the club helped local clubs bounce back from the impact of Covid through use of the club’s facilities. This includes a local ukulele group, a line dancing group and a charitable singing group.
The Warwickshire club developed a plan which resulted in amazing use of Bowls’ Big Weekend in which 100 people attended. Over 50% were retained through the club’s retention strategy and many were provided with equipment to begin their bowls career.
Avenue Coventry introduced appealing ways for the new members to gain confidence as they progress in bowls. This includes competitions, a weekly informative newsletter and increased social events to build friendships amongst the members.
County Associations play a pivotal role in the administration of our sport. This award is for the County Association, which has done the most outstanding work across all areas of development, competition, governance, promotion and national initiatives.
There are no nominations for County of the Year. The award will be shortlisted based on Counties’ achievements through the year in areas such as participation growth, competition and governance. The winner will be decided by an expert panel.
2022 Winner: Leicestershire
Leicestershire embraced development programmes and worked hard to embed Bowls Bash and Play Bowls in their clubs.
The county was elated to see one of their own have tremendous success at the Commonwealth Games as Jamie-Lea Marshall sealed Gold in the Women’s Triples at Birmingham 2022. Prior to the Commonwealth Games, Leicestershire clubs had incredible success with Bowls’ Big Weekend, utilising advertising resources to make their presence known.
Their online presence has been good with a well-structured website that provides key information to all visitors.
Previously known as the Fit for the Future Award. Bowls England’s Fit for the Future strategy commits to making our sport truly accessible. We will achieve this by breaking down barriers to participation and embracing everybody, irrespective of their background or circumstance. This accolade celebrates an initiative at club or county level, which has made our sport more equal, diverse and inclusive. It may have inspired under-represented groups to play bowls, modernized our sport’s governance or simply challenged conventional thinking.
Nominations are open to individuals, clubs or County Associations. The nominations will be shortlisted by an expert panel with an online vote held to determine the winner. To make a nomination for the Diversity and Inclusion Award, please click here.
2022 Winner: Colin Hirons (Minehead BC, Somerset)
Minehead BC has run for many years but had never had a youth section. Colin worked, initially with the social committee and the executive, to introduce a Youth Academy for the club.
Colin started the process in 2022 and now has three schools visit as part of the project. Young people now attend sessions at least twice a week.
The midweek sessions resulted in the introduction of a Youth Academy being launched, with club coaches also taking part.
Colin’s efforts helped see over 20 children enjoy playing bowls at the club. The children have found the sessions engaging and have been growing in confidence each session. Colin’s sessions cater for children of all abilities and he has helped children with educational needs.
He has great respect from the children, and other members. His work has brought new life to the club and has also brought a motivation from other members to assist in many new activities.
Minehead BC have also now had new adult members as a result of this, with parents and grandparents joining as members which has increased their membership by 10%.
The introduction of the Youth Academy has transformed the outlook of Minehead BC, with local businesses now involved with sponsorship deals.
Quality playing surfaces are critical for the enjoyment of bowlers and the growth of our sport. This prize will be awarded to a greenkeeper at an affiliated club who has done outstanding work on their green.
Greenkeeper of the Year is open for nominations from clubs or County Associations. This will be shortlisted by Bowls England, with the winner decided by an expert panel, including greens specialist Alan Lewis and Dennis Mowers and SISIS. To make a nomination for Greenkeeper of the Year, please click here.
2022 Winner: Graham Instone (Dunnington BC, Yorkshire)
Graham has set a true legacy of mentorship and passion for green maintenance. Graham joined Dunnington Bowling Club 13 years ago and is also the greens panel advisor for Yorkshire Bowling Association. On his journey, he has helped numerous bowling clubs across the county. In 2022, Graham embarked on a travelling ‘Green Improvement’ roadshow across the massive county area that is Yorkshire. His knowledge was freely shared, and his quiet nature won devotees wherever he went.
Mostly this improvement is borne out of advice, guiding new to role greenkeepers on just what to do when. He has also advised clubs on equipment purchases and on how to use this equipment once acquired. ‘In various ways’, he has ‘saved’ some greens from disaster, he has ‘enabled’ many new greenkeepers to know what they should be doing, and he ‘maintains’ his own club’s green to a standard to be admired!
Graham dedication and love towards the green stunned many, as he goes above and beyond to take care of the green. He attends to the green’s every need, often returning on multiple occasions throughout the day and late into the evening to manage greens issues in a timely manner. His resilience and determination have enabled him to find a way to always tend to his high quality green.
In this way, Graham has truly contributed to increase bowling participation by enabling clubs, not just his own, to achieve the best possible surface.
Coaches play a huge role in helping bowlers at all levels to reach their potential and enjoy our sport. Celebrating the best of the coaching community in England, this gong will honour the most outstanding and motivational coach of the past 12 months.
Nominations are open to recipients of great coaching, clubs and County Associations. This award will be decided by an expert panel featuring a Coach Bowls representative. To make a nomination for Coach of the Year, please click here.
2022 Winner: David Rolls (Frampton on Severn BC, Gloucestershire)
David is a very experienced coach having started in 1997. He obtained his Level 3 qualification in December 2020 after being invited by Coach Bowls to commence the launch of the qualification in 2018. David chairs the Coach Education Advisory Group where key tutors meet to review and improve coaching courses and material.
He is now a qualified assessor and tutor for Coach Bowls Level 1 and 2 qualifications and courses. David has tutored over 240 Coach Bowls Level 1 candidates to date, with 95% success rate and has assessed over 100 coaches.
David runs coaching sessions for a dedicated group of Gloucestershire women who compete in all three inter-county competitions. He has also set up and piloted a Youth Academy for his county with the aim of preparing them for junior competitions.
He receives regular requests from Gloucestershire clubs and over 20 counties to deliver coaching courses that are cover all aspects of the game. It is fair to say David lives and breathes coaching.
Without umpires, playing competitive bowls is simply not possible. This award will be presented to the umpire or marker who has gone above and beyond in 2023. Their work will have helped deliver great experiences for participants this year.
Nominations are open to players who have experienced excellent officiating, clubs and County Associations. This award will be decided by an expert panel including an English Bowling Umpires Association (EBUA) representative. To make a nomination for Umpire of the Year, please click here.
2022 Winner: Francis Fletcher (Warwickshire)
Francis is a well established International Umpire. He is the Elected Member of the International Selection Committee for the EBUA and is also a member of the Development Team. As an official he is an excellent role model who is always willing to provide helpful feedback and support to all.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of our sport and we could not deliver our event programme without those who give their time to support the Bowls England team. This award is specifically for the outstanding volunteer at Bowls England events, such as the Aviva National Finals.
This will be decided by an expert panel, with the shortlist drawn up by the Bowls England staff team.
2022 Winner: Rob Stanley (Worcestershire)
Rob is always cool, calm and collected and can be relied upon to get the job done in an efficient and professional manner. As live scoring expert he takes a full green (or two!) in his stride come rain or shine meaning that we were always able to keep the crowd at home informed of all results. Rob was very committed to volunteering at the National Finals in 2022 and made an excellent contribution to the event. He was adaptable, willing and eager to do any job that he was tasked with.