Collingwood Bowling Club in Northumberland has been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service – the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK and equivalent to an MBE.
Since its formation in 1902 Collingwood BC had been a council maintained ‘men only’ club, but in November 2014 the club moved venue and opened up its membership to all.
They undertook the mammoth task of bringing back to life a redundant and vandalised bowling park, with North Tyneside Council giving the club a 25 year lease on the understanding that the club was wholly responsible for all the required repair and maintenance of the park plus financing all necessary running costs. Through the endeavours of its members, guidance from North Tyneside VODA and financial support from funding organisations, businesses and individuals the club has made tremendous strides forward in improving both the bowling green and all of the facilities.
Keith Armstrong, Treasurer of Collingwood BC, said: “The transformation of Collingwood Bowling Club over the past five years has been amazing. Our aim has always been to improve our facilities and reach out to the local community to encourage new members to enjoy bowling both socially and competitively. With the refurbishment of our pavilion and notification of our Queens Award everyone should be very proud of our achievements! Our new facilities will enable our club to grow and prosper in the future thanks to our local sponsors, VODA and Financial Contributors in helping us reach our goal.”
The decision to open up its membership to all has changed the whole face and perception of what the club is about and how it can help the local community. The club’s mission is to bring the local community into sport to assist in their health and wellbeing, and it has been successful in this by virtually doubling its membership and bringing in many people new to the sport of bowls.
The club takes great pride in the belief that they are the very first flat green bowling club in the UK to receive this award.
Bowls England Chief Executive, Tony Allcock MBE, added: “The renovation of the green at Collingwood is nothing short of remarkable and indicates the true community spirit within the club. Congratulations to the club and its members in particular who have dedicated so much of their time and achieving the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is thoroughly deserved.”
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Winners are announced each year on 2 June – the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation. Award winners this year are wonderfully diverse. They include volunteers helping people overcome mental health problems through sport, volunteers using caravans as mobile cafe/information centres in geographically remote locations and another group mentoring children who have a parent in prison.
Collingwood Bowling Club is one of 281 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year. Representatives from the club attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace on May 21st 2019 along with other recipients of this year’s Award.
Club representatives will receive the award from the Lord Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear, Mrs Susan M Winfield OBE, later this summer. The club was nominated for the award by representatives from North Tyneside Council, North Tyneside Business Forum and North Tyneside VODA.