Voting for the Diversity and Inclusion award is now closed!

Below are the list of nominees which have been shortlisted for the Diversity and Inclusion award at the Bowls England Awards 2023.

Carole Ash (Maldon BC, Essex)

Carole Ash, a remarkable figure whose impact has been transformative for Maldon BC, Essex. As a club captain and a qualified coach, Carole’s unwavering dedication has significantly enriched her bowls community.

Carole’s outstanding efforts extended beyond the green, where she worked tirelessly to integrate bowls into the local school’s PE curriculum. Through her persistence, she inspired thirteen students, breaking stereotypes and making bowls appealing, particularly to teenage girls. Carole’s initiatives challenged perceptions of bowls and contributed to a 30% increase in club membership.

Her commitment to introducing young people to bowls as an alternative to conventional school sports has been particularly commendable. Carole, a former PE teacher, utilised bowls to boost students’ confidence and self-esteem. The school’s head of PE acknowledged her exceptional impact, stating that Carole’s influence was “nothing short of exceptional.” “The enthusiasm displayed by the girls under her coaching reflects the success of her approach, and they eagerly anticipate the upcoming season.”

Carole’s influence extends beyond coaching, as she has played a pivotal role in the club’s growth over the past nine years. Achieving five consecutive promotions, she became only the second female captain in the club’s history. Leading through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Carole implemented innovative changes, sometimes met with initial resistance but ultimately embraced for their positive outcomes. She introduced relaxed dress code afternoons, opening the club to visitors from Maldon’s popular Promenade Park, fostering community engagement and potentially inspiring new memberships.

As club captain, Carole prioritised inclusivity by implementing an updated equality policy and currently spearheads the rewriting of the club’s constitution to reinforce modern, inclusive values. Her enduring impact, both on and off the green, embodies the values of making bowls accessible, welcoming, and enjoyable for everyone.

Ronnie Ashley (Hurst BC, Berkshire)

For over a decade, Ronnie has been at the forefront of opening up bowls to individuals facing loneliness, isolation, illness, or grief. Her tireless efforts have not only refined the program year by year but have also transformed lives, with many participants transitioning to become full members of our club. Ronnie has exceptionally contributed to bowls and the community through an organisation called Link.

Ronnie’s fundraising endeavours have been instrumental in providing equipment, suitable bowls, and a welcoming environment. Participants enjoy tea, biscuits, and homemade cake, creating a sense of community. In poor weather, the group engages in puzzles, board games, or simply shares conversations. Ronnie’s commitment to community support has been so impactful that she had the honour of meeting the late Queen twice and received an award for her outstanding contributions.

The community project serves as a vital platform for the elderly and adults with additional needs to participate and connect through the game of bowls. It promotes physical activity and social interaction, particularly among those over 50, contributing to their overall well-being. Ronnie’s efforts have extended beyond the club, as other community groups are now expressing interest in joining this transformative project.

In addition to her work with Link, Ronnie has fundraised for the club to provide junior bowls and equipment for beginners, reducing initial costs for newcomers to the sport. Currently, she is leading the charge in raising funds for a new club house, addressing the increasing maintenance costs of one of the country’s oldest historical clubs, Hurst BC. Remarkably, over thirteen years, Ronnie has spearheaded fundraising efforts, totalling an astounding £142,587.

Ronnie’s remarkable personality enables her to connect with diverse individuals, reflecting her commitment to making bowls accessible and enjoyable for everyone. Her unwavering dedication to community engagement, fundraising, and promoting the sport of bowls makes Ronnie an outstanding nominee for the Diversity and Inclusion award, embodying the spirit of inclusivity and positive impact.

West Backwell BC (Somerset)

West Backwell Bowling Club (WBBC) was facing the fear of colsure heading into 2023 after an annual downward trend in memberships since the COVID-19 pandemic. They set out what thriving would look like for the club and its members and born was “Thrive With Bowls.”

Thrive with Bowls, designed with three core aims of promoting physical activity, alleviating isolation, and enhancing mental well-being, proved to be a resounding success. The club’s dedication to breaking down entry barriers led to an impressive turnout of over 600 participants, spanning ages 4 to 96, encompassing both able-bodied and disabled individuals.

WBBC’s strategic approach gathered positive publicity and secured support from Sport England and 16 commercial sponsors.
Thrive with Bowls extended its impact by sharing resources and strategies with other local clubs. Beyond increased participation, the club’s success was measured by the positive stories that emerged, showcasing improved physical activity, mental health, and success stories.

The club’s achievements under Thrive with Bowls were structured around recruitment, retention, and engagement. Introducing a Novices section, themed events like Try Bowls Tuesdays, and community outreach initiatives showcased WBBC’s commitment to building a sustainable future for the club.

Recruitment initiatives, such as family fun days and novice tournaments, saw overwhelming success. Community engagement extended beyond bowls, featuring health and well-being sessions, a fashion show, and a coronation celebration, reinforcing the club’s integral role in village life.

WBBC’s dedication to changing the image of bowls through a modern kit and coaching support demonstrated their forward-thinking approach. By offering subsidised subscriptions, disability aids, and inclusive equipment, WBBC ensured that everyone, irrespective of background or ability, could thrive with bowls.

In summary, WBBC’s Thrive with Bowls campaign created a vibrant, inclusive, and sustainable future for the club, positively impacting the lives of countless individuals in the local community.

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