Bowls England Presidential Tour 2024: Part One

9th May, 2024

It is of course traditional for the Bowls England President to arrange a Presidential Tour during their year of office and to invite bowlers from all over the UK to come along and take part. I was very keen to carry on this tradition in 2024 during my own presidency.

The first decision I had to make was where to host the tour. I was born and brought up in Scotland and, even though I have lived in England most of my life, I decided that I wanted to go back to my original ‘home country’ for this special event. It would be great too that I could introduce some people who had never visited Scotland, or never visited the particular part of Scotland I had in mind, to this beautiful country.

After some research and discussion with my Tour company I chose Peebles, in the Scottish Border region along the River Tweed, as the primary location for the tour. The Peebles Hydro Hotel offers an excellent venue for our accommodation, being large enough to provide the nearly forty rooms that are needed, as well as excellent dining and lounge facilities. We have two coaches to take us to matches outside the immediate area, since on two of the days there are matches simultaneously in two different locations to accommodate the large number of would-be bowlers.

I chose Graham Annetts from Salisbury as my Tour Manager following his highly successful leadership on a previous President’s Tour. In December 2022, on the first of several ‘recces’ in the Peebles area, I met Miller Malloy, the Secretary of Peebles Bowls Club, who took on the role of our local ‘fixer’, communicating with bowling clubs and organising the bowls events.

Fortunately, a lot of people agreed with our decision about location! We have 68 people going on the Tour, representing 20 counties, amongst whom are six Past Presidents of Bowls England plus a Past President of the EBA (before Unification). There are 50 bowlers altogether, allowing Graham and I to select teams for the seven matches we are playing and allowing everyone to choose how many playing days, and how many non-playing visit days, they want to have.

As well as the matches, against clubs in Peebles, Kelso, Galashiels, Innerleithen and Edinburgh, and a Scottish Borders select team in Melrose, we are visiting Traquair House, Innerleithen (Scotland’s oldest inhabited house), together as a group. There is also a day trip to Edinburgh, where half of the tour party, who have chosen to do so, are visiting the Royal Yacht Britannia in Leith.

One of the most exciting events of the week is a small group visit to Peebles High School on the final day, to speak with a class of 3rd year pupils about mental wellbeing and the lifelong benefits of bowling. We are accompanied on this day by Frances Sandilands, the first and current President of (Unified) Bowls Scotland, and Craig Bowler, the 2022 Commonwealth Games medalist with his unique personal story. More about this visit in my next article, Part Two of the Presidential Tour.

The week has its ‘social’ side as well, of course. On one evening there is a ceilidh and on another a classical performance by a Scottish opera singer and her talented musical husband. In addition, there will be a Gala Dinner on the last evening with a special guest speaker, the legendary English International, John Bell, from Cumbria.

Altogether, it should be an interesting, busy, friendly week – one, hopefully, to remember for a long time in to the future.


By David King Taylor, Bowls England President 2024

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