2021 Certificate of Merit winner Ron Garner describes his Bowls England award as being the equivalent of “a lifetime achievement award.”
But reading the citation with which his friend and Maulden BC Assistant Secretary Elwyn Owen nominated the 87-year-old for this much-deserved recognition, it is fair to say that Ron’s astonishing contribution to his sport would for most of us have filled two or three lifetimes.
Elwyn wrote: “Over 59 years Ron’s contribution to bowls, either at club or county level has been significant – he is an example to us all.
“As a result he was granted Life Membership by Maulden BC in 2000 and awarded the Bowls Bedfordshire Award of Merit in 2020.
“Ron has been a member at Maulden BC since 1962 and he represented Bedfordshire in the Middleton Cup in the 1980s.
“For 59 years Ron has been a dedicated, one-club man who has held every post on the committee including three years as President.
“In 1967 Ron was as elected as Treasurer, a role he filled from 1967 to 1986 and again from 1990 to 1995 when he was elected Chairman, a post he held until 1999. He also had four spells as Club Captain between 1975 and 1994.
“Ron still serves on the committee, frequently volunteers to be Captain of the Day in friendly matches or turns his hand to catering duties.
“He has also served as Captain of our East Bedfordshire League ‘A’ team since the mid-1970s and as Captain of the Over-60s team between 2015 and 2018.
“Ron frequently involves himself in maintenance work around the clubhouse and is the first there when end-of-season green maintenance work is needed.
“Notably, both new and experienced members enjoy his company and appreciate his words of encouragement. Ron never has a bad word to say about anyone.”
Speaking with Ron for the first time it is immediately apparent that he is engaging company. His account of winning the 2021 award typified this.
The story began in November last year when he received a phone call from Elwyn…
“Ron, we have some tickets for the Bowls England Awards dinner in Leicester in February,” he said. “Would you and Toni (Ron’s partner) like to come?”
Slightly to Ron’s surprise Toni was extremely enthusiastic about making the trip and three months later the pair joined Elwyn and his wife in making the trip up the M1 to the Athena Centre.
On arriving at the venue Ron remained blissfully unaware of what was awaiting him as he enjoyed a champagne reception and dinner with his friends.
“It then came to the time when the Certificate of Merit – our equivalent of a lifetime achievement award for someone who has made an outstanding contribution – was announced,” Ron recalls.
“I turned to look at the stage and saw my name was on the screen. I thought there was a mistake and asked Elwyn: “What’s that doing here?”
“You need to go to the stage,” he replied.
“I then went up alongside Molly Jennings from Stotfold – a village just up the road from us – who was very well prepared for her on-stage interview with the President.
“By contrast, I knew nothing beforehand and had no idea what to say!
“When I got back to the table it became apparent that Elwyn had nominated me in November and not a word was let out. I don’t know how they did it!
“I couldn’t believe it; I wouldn’t have even dreamed it was possible! I was absolutely thrilled, in fact when I got home I cried…it was bloody brilliant!”
To be part of Bowls England’s next glittering evening, the Annual Awards Night, which takes place in Leicester on February 25th 2023 purchase tickets here.