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Caterham BC’s Charlie Kielty wins inaugural ‘Story Of The Year’

18th December, 2019 by Matt Wordingham

Bowls England is delighted to announce that Charlie Kielty of Caterham BC in Surrey has won the inaugural ‘Story of the Year’ award.

The award, which has replaced the ‘Club of the Year’ award, is generously supported by Drakes Pride, and has been introduced by Bowls England to recognise the work of clubs and volunteers across the country.

Caterham BC introduced the panel to Charlie Kielty, who has been at the forefront of their club recruitment for many years. This year, Charlie has brought in an incredible 41 new members to the club.

Throughout the winter months, Charlie runs regular ‘Introduction to Bowls’ sessions at the local De Stafford Sports Centre, and during PE lessons at the De Stafford High School. Charlie has spent countless hours door-knocking in the local community, and during the summer holds weekly Sunday sessions for prospective new members.

This season, Charlie has worked particularly closely with the local croquet club, with 38 signing up to Caterham as social members. He also introduced 20 children from the local Essendean Lodge School Holiday Club to the sport, many of whom have been ‘bitten by the bowls bug’!

Charlie has always been active in terms of retention and recruitment of members to the sport, and this year has also assisted Bletchingley BC, Chipstead BC and Warlingham BC in introducing almost 90 new bowlers across those three clubs.

A dedicated member of Caterham BC, Charlie is always welcoming and friendly, and his ability to introduce and recruit new members is remarkable. Additionally, Charlie has just been appointed as Surrey’s Development Officer in recognition of his recruitment ability.

Charlie beat off stiff competition from Rick Hough, a member of Trentham BC in Berkshire, to claim the title.

Despite only being in his third year of bowling, Rick has been a valuable asset to the Berkshire club, writing a website, supplying a computer and installing a Wi-Fi connection.

Additionally, Rick has set up a WhatsApp group and internet banking, as well as overseeing the management of the bar, and driving an appeal for a club defibrillator which will shortly be installed.

However, Rick’s main success of 2019 has been the recruitment of new members. His plan, along with the assistance of Shirley Brampton and other committee members, has been nothing short of exceptional.

The distribution of leaflets, posters and notices, erection of signs, house-to-house advertising, displays in supermarket and a local public event, targeting friends, neighbours, local shops and schools, as well as using Radio Berkshire and the internet to gain maximum publicity, reaped massive rewards for the club. The total cost of this campaign was less than £25.

Since the Open Day, the club has more than doubled its membership from 51 to 108. Regular coaching, playing and social events including a BBQ and race night have integrated the new members, with many also playing in friendly matches, league matches and club competitions.

Rick and Shirley have both shown tireless drive, leadership, enthusiasm, commitment and patience for the benefit of the club.

Bowls England Chief Executive Tony Allcock OBE said: “The quality of entries for the inaugural Story of the Year is of an exceptionally high standard. It is clear that many clubs are raising their game with regard to the work that they are doing to recruit and retain new members – most noticeably an increase in the use of social media to promote the sport to a wider audience. I also wish to thank Drakes Pride for their continued support of this competition in its new guise.”

As winners, Caterham BC will receive:

  • Four sets of Drakes Pride Bowls
  • The Tony Allcock Trophy (to be kept for one year)
  • Two Free Tickets to the Bowls England Men’s Annual Dinner & Prize Presentation
  • Bowls England Pennant
  • Bowls England ‘Story of the Year’ Flag
  • Framed Certificate
  • A match against a visiting Bowls England President’s Team

As runners-up, Trentham BC will receive:

  • Two sets of Drakes Pride Bowls
  • The D’Arcy Drayton Cup (to be kept for one year)
  • Two Free Tickets to the Bowls England Annual Dinner & Prize Presentation
  • Bowls England Pennant
  • Framed Certificate
  • A match against a visiting Friends of English Bowling Team
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