Our National Finals have always been the culmination of a bowler’s tremendous efforts over the course of a season. Starting within their county areas, bowlers from all corners of England battle their way through each round of competitions, determined to reach the pinnacle of the sport, the National Finals. The highly anticipated Aviva National Finals is almost here and, to celebrate, we wanted to share some of your memorable moments. Read the stories told by the players and their experiences at previous National Finals.
There is no doubt that this year will provide many an unforgettable match, moment, and celebration. So don’t miss out on your tickets for the Aviva National Finals! Tickets starting from just £4 for adults and £1 for Under 18s.
“In 2022 I made my National Final debut at Leamington qualifying in the men’s triples and as part of the Silksworth Pumas squad in the club two fours competition. At only my second year back in the sport after a lengthy break to concentrate on family time it was a great to be back in the sport playing at the pinnacle arena. As well as my own personal return it was also fantastic to see my son, now 12 years old also pick up the sport and he and the rest of my family travelled to Leamington to support. My club naming my son Layton as a reserve in our 10 man squad that travelled. Despite an early bath in the Men’s triples, the disappointment was turned to incentive to push on in the club two fours, after 3 nail biting finishes winning each match by a single point we lifted the trophy and I won my first national title. The emotions were second to none, but to go through each game with Layton at my side supporting and Layton also receiving a winners medal and being involved in the celebrations post-match are something that will live with us forever. In 2023 we entered the family pairs together, and in the early stages taking each match one at a time, we made it through to our area final after some fantastic tussles. With only 2 games between us and a return trip to Leamington it was difficult not to reminisce on the experience from last year, the emotions and the feeling of playing at Leamington, and this gave myself and my son the push to win our final two games. And now this year I will be walking onto the Leamington green, alongside my best mate, and son in the family pairs. I’d love to replicate the Silksworth Pumas success from the previous year, but the experience to spend some time at the BE national finals with my family is what matters.”
Scott Walton |Yorkshire
“11 years old in 2004 and qualifying for the under 25 singles at Worthing. The youngest qualifier to this day I believe (that may not be correct now). A memorable day playing against Jamie Gibbs of Middlesex and took him all the way 21-18. Followed up the next year by becoming the youngest person to play in a National Final by playing in the pairs with step-dad, Mark, although losing out after the game got rearranged due to bad weather. Winning the EBA young player of the year at the age though, looking back, was an unbelievable achievement.”
Sheila Gwilliam |Berkshire
“I am 78 this year and my bowling career didn’t start until 2010. I moved to Berkshire and needed to make friends so my husband and I joined a small friendly club in Maidenhead and I became addicted. In 2019 along with 3 other ladies from our club we reached the County final of the senior fours. The club we were playing against was also from Maidenhead and we all knew one another very well. It was a very close final and we left it to the last end and won the County fours. We were going to Leamington our skip who was the most experienced of us had been before and did her best to tell us how we would feel. We decided to go up in one car on the day of our match as 2 ladies had dogs at home. We left Maidenhead at about 6:30 am normal journey time about 1 hr 30 mins so we had plenty of time to prepare ourselves when we arrived. 20 minutes into our journey traffic on the M40 ground to a halt a serious accident ahead. We were powerless to do anything. We arrived at Royal Leamington Spa at 9:00am just as our names were being called. We hurriedly received our precious badges and rushed to our designated green. Sadly my fairy tale visit to Leamington ended there as we were soundly beaten in our first game. I don’t think any of us had recovered from our journey. It is my hopes that I might get to Leamington again but sadly I feel time is not on my side but I can dream…”
Rebecca Wigfield |Northamptonshire
“Playing the Amy Rose semi-final against Devon in 2019, with the scores tied over both rinks after 15 ends. My rink is drawn to play the extra end against Sophie Tolchard’s rink. Being shot down, I drew to an off centre jack close to the ditch with my first bowl to get the shot. Sophie then successfully ditched the jack to lie the shot. With my last bowl and final bowl of the match, I drew to within 18 inches of the ditch to secure our place in the final. We then went on to convincingly beat Somerset in the final and claim the title for the very first time.”
Howard Else |Nottinghamshire
“2021 senior 4s – just winning the county final & qualifying for Lemington was an achievement, but then we went on a winning run all the way to the final. No one could believe it, we’re just a small village team, this doesn’t happen to clubs like us, but it did. Coming in through the entrance on the final day I was met by one of the bowls england ladies team who asked ” are you playing today”, “yes” I replied ” we’re in the semi final of the senior 4’s”. She then informed me ” you know if you win, you go forward to the British finals”. I was completely blown away, I didn’t know. What great memories. I arranged a photo tablet for each of the team with all the scores, trophy & medals & i got their jackets embroidered. What great memories. Worth every minute of my 52 years bowling. Thanks Bowls England.”
Sean Howard |Devon
“Going to National Finals is a major goal for any bowler. I got my first taste of Leamington in 2015 winning the White Rose with Devon. Since then being part of multiple winning Devon Middleton cup teams. But my most memorable is winning the national top club with Kings 4 years in a row. Sharing those moments with team mates is a special feeling.”
Emma Langridge |Dorset
“My first National Finals at Leamington was in 2021, I was playing in the Ladies U25s, with my first match being at 12 noon, my bowls were lined up on the rink ready and the umpire was checking them over. Approx 11.45 he looks up and asks whose bowls are these, they were mine and he tells me that they’re out of date! Many umpires along the way had missed it, I had played in the Amy Rose earlier in the season etc etc. I was so upset, everyone I knew around me were there to watch me on that particular day so didn’t have their bowls on them! My parents were there and my opponent and the umpire have given me until 12.15! My dad whisks me over to the traders’ tent and buys me some brand new Henselites….I go back to the rink, win my match by a large margin, with everyone going crazy and lots of people hearing about the girl playing her first National match with brand new bowls so coming over to watch! I went on to win my second match and got to the quarter finals….what an incredible couple of days!”
Find out more about everything you can expect from each day at the Aviva National Finals.