Cast your vote for Bowls England Awards

5th January, 2024

Our online vote for the Unsung Hero and Diversity & Inclusion awards is now open. Both awards are decided by public voting, so read the fantastic work the shortlisted nominees have done over the past 12 months, then choose who you think deserves to win the awards!

Voting will close on Thursday 18th January at 5pm so don’t delay.

The winners will be presented with their prize at our glittering awards evening at Athena, Leicester on Saturday 24th February 2024. You can join us for an evening of celebration, camaraderie, and inspiration as we toast to the great achievements in bowls.




Unsung Hero

“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.


Shortlisted nominees

Bob Morton (Parkway BC, Huntingdonshire)
Bob has managed the Huntingdonshire Middleton Cup team for over two decades with remarkable success. In the previous season, under his leadership, the team reached the last four at Leamington. It was an achievement made even more noteworthy as it occurred without one of their top players, Nick Brett, who was representing England in the World Championships. What sets Bob apart is his dedication to promoting young bowlers – the team he led included a 13-year-old and several players under 25.

Click here to read more about Bob Morton

Bob’s influence extends beyond managerial roles. His sons, Ean and Tristan, have achieved recognition at Leamington and for England, a testament not only to their talent but also to Bob’s guidance during their junior years. In addition to managing the county Middleton Cup team, Bob serves as the county competition results secretary for both Men’s and Ladies’ competitions, along with the Men’s Balcomb and U25 teams.

He actively oversees operations at Parkway BC, serving as the manager for their league team and competition teams, including the Top Club and Club Two Fours. Bob also takes on the role of Green Keeper and maintenance man for Parkway Bowls Club, showcasing his commitment for more than two decades.

What distinguishes Bob is not just his commitment to current players, but also his remembrance of past contributors to the sport. Last season, he organized county trials between his Middleton Cup squad and Huntingdonshire & Northamptonshire federation county teams, leading to the creation of two shields named after recently passed bowlers from the involved counties.


Gilly Meadows (Dursley BC, Gloucestershire)
Gilly has been a stalwart of the club’s committee for an impressive 18 years. Gilly’s dedication and vast knowledge of club and county lifecycle have played a pivotal role in shaping the success and vibrancy of Dursley BC. Currently serving as Club Secretary, Ladies’ Captain, Fixture Secretary, Men’s and Ladies’ County and League delegate, Safeguarding Officer, Level Two coach, Fundraising Officer, Grants and PR Officer, Ladies’ Selector, and administrator of various club platforms, Gilly’s involvement spans a multitude of crucial roles.

Click here to read more about Gilly Meadows

Her organizational skills are astonishing, evident in the creation of a regular Event Log document and various templates that aid committee members in managing tasks efficiently. Gilly’s project management skills, coupled with her detailed knowledge of club operations, constitution, and CASC compliance, ensure the club’s compliance.

Beyond her administrative prowess, Gilly is an avid fundraiser and networker, securing significant donations through her motto, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” Her efforts have resulted in grants exceeding £38,000, funding vital club projects. Gilly also gets involved in maintenance projects such as hand-painting the wood treatment onto a new pavilion.

Gilly’s passion extends to coaching, reaching Level Two under the Coach Bowls scheme. She coaches up to county level and actively contributes to the County Youth Development squad training. Gilly is a talented player, reaching the 2022 Ladies’ Pairs National Finals and participating in various county championships.

Gilly’s skills in photography and graphic design enhances Dursley’s image.

Her impact goes beyond the sport, emphasizing mental well-being, reducing isolation, and championing social events. Gilly’s infectious enthusiasm and thorough planning of Dursley’s open days and fun events bring in new members and raising awareness of the club.

As Dursley Bowls Club approaches its 75th anniversary in 2024, Gilly is already planning exciting events. Her dedication to inclusivity, knowledge-sharing, and tireless efforts to secure resources for the club, including an electric wheelchair, is exemplary.


Kevin Mawson (Kingsthorpe BC, Northamptonshire)
Kevin, a dedicated member of Kingsthorpe BC’s greenkeeping team, devised and executed an innovative project to address the challenges posed by changing weather patterns, aiming to secure our outdoor greens against drought while reducing irrigation costs. Given the expectation of warmer, drier summers, the installation of rainwater storage containers, known as bulk containers, became crucial for sustainable water management.

Click here to read more about Kevin Mawson

Kevin’s methodical planning involved placing 12 bulk containers, each with a 1000-litre capacity, behind an existing large storage tank, creating a combined total capacity of 17,000 litres. These containers were strategically linked to the mains water supply and the current irrigation system. The collected rainwater, filtered from the building’s roof, filled the containers with excess water diverted back to a downpipe through a high-level float switch.

The initiative not only alleviated the strain on the mains water supply but also significantly reduced irrigation costs. The innovative setup allowed the green to be watered four times before tapping into the paid-for mains water. Kevin’s meticulousness ensures proper maintenance and monitoring of the storage containers, reinforcing the club’s commitment to sustainability.

Kevin’s leadership and hands-on approach from the start of the project to completion showcased his dedication. He organized a team to move the 65-kilo bulk containers, addressing logistical challenges by lifting them over a fence! Despite occasional challenges, such as a humorous scenario of Kevin needing assistance to exit a large storage tank, the project’s success is evident. The club website captures the different stages of the installation process.

Kevin’s achievement not only saved the club money but also attracted attention from another outdoor club seeking his expertise for a similar installation.


Matt Hamilton (Illminster BC, Somerset)
Matt, the Outdoor Chairman at Ilminster BC, stands out as a forward-thinking and dedicated individual committed to the club’s growth and community engagement. His strategic initiatives have significantly contributed to the club’s expansion and enhanced relationships.

Click here to read more about Matt Hamilton

Matt’s proactive approach to membership growth is evident through the organisation of three annual outdoor open days and active participation in the 2023 Bowls’ Big Weekend event. Since May 2023, the club has welcomed 35 new members, achieving a remarkable 20% increase in women’s membership. Matt’s inclusive strategy extends to offering taster sessions with a 20% discount, promoting an open and welcoming environment for potential members.

Beyond membership initiatives, Matt plays a pivotal role in monthly fundraisers, demonstrating the club’s commitment to supporting various causes and charities. This not only strengthens community ties within Ilminster but also showcases the club’s dedication to social responsibility.

Matt’s outreach extends beyond Ilminster, as he generously aids neighbouring clubs in Taunton and Chard. Ilminster serves as a hub for seminars on topics like social media, benefiting local clubs by enhancing their outreach capabilities.

Matt has been instrumental in transforming Ilminster’s social media and website presence. Recognizing the importance of these platforms for engaging both current and potential members, he has tirelessly worked on the club’s social media presence. Ilminster now boasts over 1000 Instagram followers, a testament to Matt’s efforts in attracting a younger audience. The club’s website serves as a comprehensive resource, effectively promoting programs and events to reach residents in local villages.



Diversity and Inclusion 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.


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.

Click here to read more about Carole Ash

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.

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.”

Click here to read more about West Backwell BC

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.


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.

Click here to read more about Ronnie Ashley

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.


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