Lawn Bowls participation continues to grow

7th August, 2023

At its meeting in July, the Bowls England board were encouraged by the continued growth in club affiliation with numbers having risen by 1.4% from this time last year (numbers below). Central to the Fit for the Future strategy is increasing participation by building the brand of bowls, making bowls more accessible and supporting affiliated clubs to deliver to recruit and retain players. Alongside this, over 100 clubs are now accredited to deliver Bowls Bash and the board received a report on Bowls’ Big Weekend 2023, when an average of 31 new people attended each club event, double that of 2022. Whilst the Board is content with progress, there is no underestimation of the challenge of reversing the generational decline in lawn bowls participation.

Club Affiliation figures as of May 2023

Neil Dalrymple, CEO of World Bowls, attended part of the meeting.  The Board learned of developments at World Bowls since Neil’s arrival in post towards the end of 2022.  Neil shared World Bowls’ new strategy, which can be viewed here Strategic Plan – World Bowls and work that is being undertaken to evolve the global events calendar.  Bowls England has already expressed its interest in bidding to host the 2027 World Championships.

Following a paper and presentation by the Chief Executive, the Board discussed the 2023/24 Operational Year. A number of priorities were agreed including –

• Improving the way Bowls England manages its data and player engagement.
• Working with Clubs to embed Bowls Bash and
• Completing and implementing the Competitions Review.
• Recruiting new players through Bowls’ Big Weekend.
• Continuing to drive more visibility of bowls.

It was noted the challenges of bringing in a break even budget, after a number of years of drawing on reserves, and ensuring we continue to ensure resources are channelled into supporting club volunteers.

The Board meeting was observed by Rowland Jack from Governance United, who is leading an independent evaluation of the Board’s performance as advised in the Sport England Code of Good Governance. Governance United’s findings and recommendations will be presented to the Board in September.

To view the July Board minutes, please click here.

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