Vote now for your Unsung Hero & Story of the Year!

11th January, 2022 by Rob Short

Two of the awards at the inaugural Bowls England Awards Night are now open to public vote as we celebrate some of the immense contributions to our sport from all levels.

The Unsung Hero Award, and the Story of the Year award, are open for voting now. You can read all about the nominees below.

The winners will be presented with their prize at our glittering awards evening at Athena, Leicester on Saturday 19th February. Tickets are available so why not get a group together to support your favourite nominee? Tickets can be purchased here.

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Unsung Hero Award – The Nominees

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.

David Linney - Market Bosworth BC, Leics

‘Market Bosworth BC recognises David Linney as the true heartbeat of the club’

David Linney is an exceedingly valued and treasured member of Market Bosworth BC, someone who looks for the task that needs to be done, never seeking any thanks or recognition – he is simply selfless!

When he and his wife joined Market Bosworth BC they were new to bowls but they soon involved themselves in both the bowling and social side of club life. David assumed the role of Property Manager and under his tenure the list of improvements to the clubhouse is almost never ending. The club now boasts a wonderful new clock on the roof, a new honours board, a new kitchen arrangement and freshly decorated club rooms.

His accomplishments extend outside, where as a valued member of the Green team, he has attended Greens Management courses to ensure the club’s bowling surface always looks its very best. He  has worked tirelessly to raise funds to purchase a new mower and more recently a Verticutter. Spending countless hours filling in forms for grants from local and parish councils, which is a task no one enjoys but his efforts yielded success!

David is not limited to the look of the club. He is often the prime mover in organising and running the club’s social events; Horseracing evenings and Club Nights are amongst the many great evenings.

People like David see the jobs that others don’t; he installed solar powered lighting along the path for darker evenings; arranged a timed irrigation system to ensure that the hanging baskets don’t dry out and so much more. The result of all David’s efforts means that Market Bosworth BC promotes a sense of wellbeing for both members and visitors alike.

Market Bosworth BC recognises David Linney as the true heartbeat of the club from which so many positive things occur, he often provides the impetus for others to get involved. He has given so much to the club and it is clear that his fellow members recognise his commitment and pride in the game of bowls.

Jacqui Jarvis - Newport Pagnell BC, Bucks

‘Jacqui is one of those people who makes things seem effortless when in reality a huge amount of effort is involved’

Jacqui Jarvis is truly a multi-faceted club member. As Secretary she is the first port of call for endless enquiries from Members, other Clubs & Governing Bodies and she always manages these with the appropriate amount of patience, tact, diplomacy & fairness. The Club’s principal contact with the Town Council, she handles major issues such as negotiations regarding a Buildings Enforcement Notice and a potential move of the Club to a new location with bespoke buildings & facilities. She was also instrumental in ensuring the Club remained Covid-safe throughout 2021.

Jacqui is the friendly face of the Club for new joiners and oversees the recruitment process from start to finish, ensuring new Members are given a warm welcome. As part of the Social Team, Jacqui has taken it upon herself to maintain contact through the close season, particularly with those members who live alone or who are unable to see other friends due to the pandemic.

Ever conscious of the traditions and etiquette of bowls, Jacqui encourages feedback and ideas from members to ensure a sense of open communication within the club. Many of Jacqui’s ideas reduce pressure and workloads for members who voluntarily hold official positions within the Club. A flawless and detailed commitment to organisation ensures Club and County events are executed without a hitch. Jacqui is one of those people who makes things seem effortless when in reality a huge amount of effort is involved.

She is now implementing, with the Club’s Welfare Officer, a mechanism to help “at risk” members on a long-term basis, helping several members outside of her formal roles with their medical needs (in particular dementia). This has necessitated extra attention and assistance in the absence of any local family, including accompanying one member to a hospital appointment and being on hand at all hours of day & night to assist in moments of distress & crisis.

2021 has been a very difficult year for her on a personal level, but she has continued to support the club and its members despite having many other pulls on her time.

Newport Pagnell BC describe Jacqui as an infectious, bubbly personality that brightens any occasion. She has a warmth that shines through no matter the circumstances. In the club’s words, “she is a totally genuine person”. Without Jacqui in 2021, it would not have been the club’s most successful year in living memory. Jacqui is clearly a remarkable woman.

Jason Parkinson - Heaton Hall BC, Lancs

‘The game of bowls should consider itself fortunate to have Jason Parkinson’

Jason Parkinson is a creative thinker and someone who continually seeks to engage with others to open doors and create opportunities allowing the game of bowls to grow.

Innovating in any sport is never straightforward; creating and advocating concepts is a significant personal and professional challenge, particularly in a traditional sport. The Lancashire Super League was initiated by Jason, offering a format during COVID-19 for new players to play alongside more experienced bowlers.

Introducing some much-needed humour in these dark days, the league promoted team names such as Hakuna Matata, West Coast Thunder, and Monkey Hangers! This is just a few of the well-considered names of the 18 teams with 72 players that make up the league. The Super League format for 2022, under the new stewardship of Brian Toner, reflects the continued innovation with the move to larger teams and the addition of Triples and Fours.

The Manchester Open attracted players from across the country, with a pair from Scotland (Carswell and MacDougall) securing victory and winning the £2000 prize fund. The use of social media and the Bowl Lancashire website is an excellent forum for information and engagement.

In addition, to his local work Jason has developed a national presence following his commentary skills behind both the World Indoor Bowls Championships and the Bowls England National Finals.

Jason drives these innovations to promote the game towards a broader audience. The future of any endeavour relies on individuals who are willing to stand up and advocate change. The game of bowls should consider itself fortunate to have Jason Parkinson as one such advocate and should applaud and recognise his efforts on behalf of the game as a whole.

June White - Thurlton BC, Suffolk

‘The club takes pride in considering itself not as a club but as a family, and June is one of the main ingredients that make this a reality’

June White has for 30 years taught and coached the game of bowls. Her club Thurlton BC is situated in the beautiful Norfolk countryside. The bowls club is a typical village club supporting the local community and relies on the efforts of members and volunteers to ensure its continued success. Therefore, it is more than noteworthy to recognise an individual who has inspired both on and off the green.

June has encourages new members to become the best bowlers they can be, promoting the competition through an extensive youth setup, and always being available to teach and help any member seeking to improve.

Throughout the season, June organises a variety of tournaments which are designed to promote engagement. A regular supporter of all the clubs social events, June strives to ensure they are inclusive for all.

In addition, more than 30 years ago, June started a junior section which has developed and grown.  The junior programme features a two hour coaching section and is part of a regular after-school club for the village primary school.

Thurlton BC has evolved from a small village club into a central part of the community, which is very much due to June’s efforts and considerable sacrifice. She continues to promote all that is good about the sport through a selfless commitment.

The club takes pride in considering itself not as a club but as a family, and June is one of the main ingredients that make this a reality. On her recent Facebook post June described her reaction to the nomination as being “stuck for words” and “never expected this in a million years”.

June is clearly a valued member of Thurlton BC and as a fellow member recently commented “you truly deserve to be honoured.”

Nigel Morgan - Haydon Wick BC, Wilts

‘Nigel works to remove obstacles, providing a platform that allows the bowls community to reflect the needs and demands of society’

Nigel has always had a passion for coaching, especially with including people into the sport with any form of disability.

Nigel Morgan became a Coach back in 1999 and worked at his club and County since then. He was an active member of the WBCA, Wiltshire Bowls Coaching Association and was their Treasurer in 2005 , Secretary and Treasurer in 2008, and has been the Wiltshire County Coach since 2013. He also became a National Umpire and had a trial for his International level. It was at this trial, the he realised that his passion was in coaching people to our sport and also teach people how to coach.

Nigel plays at Haydon Wick Bowls Club in North Swindon, Wiltshire, which is a relatively new club formed in 1992. He joined in 1999 and was soon active and started his coaching career. In 2001 he started the Monday evening open evenings to attract and train new members. This was so successful that it has been running ever since with the help and support from the clubs coaches (all of which he trained as coaches!). These sessions on average replace the natural losses every year.

In 2003 he became a Club Coach and in 2005 gained his Green Certificate. In 2015 he successfully passed his Coach Bowls Level 2 and encouraged eleven other Wiltshire Coaches to bridge across to Coach Bowls in the same session. In 2016 he became a Coach Bowls Tutor and has run over 70 courses since then from Level 1 and 2 to Adult Safeguarding and the Inclusion module.

In Wiltshire he has been the Development Officer since 2017 and is a guiding light in establishing the Bowls Wiltshire Youth Academy which will run its official inaugural event in May 2022 at Westlecot.

He is at the present the International Squad Coach for VIBE, Visually Impaired Bowls England, and helps both the bowlers and coaches. In 2019 he directed Keith Brenton to win his first England Men’s Singles Outdoor B1 (totally blind) Championship. Due to Covid 19 there was no championship in 2020, however in 2021 Keith went onto defend his title, playing six and winning six. He also, along with Margaret Custer, won the B1 Pairs competition. Both Keith and Nigel have been selected to play for both VIBE and DBE, Disability Bowls England, to represent England at the hoped for UK Outdoor Para Home Nations in August 2022.

Nigel is currently working towards his Coach Bowls Level 3 qualification. This qualification enables him to formally coach all levels up to and including International players.

Nigel is available as resource for all counties that need specialist support and he inspires others to achieve success. Nigel works to remove obstacles, providing a platform that allows the bowls community to reflect the needs and demands of society by building inclusion and access through skills and forums that reflect every individual’s needs.

Richard Spriggs - Essex County BC, Essex

‘A genuinely selfless individual who is recognised throughout the club as an incredible member, he is an inspiration for his dedication and sacrifice; proving the old adage that age really is just a number’

Richard Spriggs, at 70, considers age to be nothing more than a number. Bowls is a fantastic sport for any demographic and this is demonstrated by Richard both on at off the green. You will see him at the club’s open days and bowls for beginners courses, giving input to newer players at any opportunity.

Richard possess the skills, know-how & ability to make the difference, which can be a key factor between a club succeeding or simply getting by.  Richard along with his wife Tina, who is the Club Secretary, is always finding work to do at the club. Whether repairing something, creating something completely new or just simply maintenance Richard can turn his hand to most things.

There is an endless list of tasks at clubs and the costs of employing professionals can have a detrimental effect on bowls clubs limited budgets.  During the Covid-19 lockdown, Richard saved over £17,000 in club’s repair and renewal costs by doing the hard-physical labour himself. This created a saving for the club, which by anyone’s measurement was a substantial sum.

This saving provided invaluable resources that the club has now deployed elsewhere such as attracting new members, improving facilities, arranging club events and encouraging youth development.

Richard translates words into deeds, often taking the lead on major club projects. He provides opportunities for others to enjoy the club and the game of bowls. A genuinely selfless individual who is recognised throughout the club as an incredible member, he is an inspiration for his dedication and sacrifice; proving the old adage that age really is just a number.

Sid & Joy Steele - Blandford BC, Dorset

‘They are teaching the value of bowls as a sport to young people and ensuring the game has a bright future.’

Husband and Wife duo, Sid and Joy Steele have devoted over 10 years to developing junior bowls in Dorset. Starting in their home Club of Blandford BC, Sid and Joy relished the challenge of engaging with young players. They  have kept them stimulated with their innovative ways of producing equipment to bring fun into the game – as well as developing their skills along the way!

The creation of award schemes were created and introduced, further providing ways of keeping the younger members motivated and even today, 10 years on you will still see Sid with a piece of pipe and string in his hand designing a new exercise for the youngsters to try.

Sid and Joy’s journey began in 2011 when they were asked to help with  four juniors at Blandford. Within two years, they had taken over the junior section and had 23 youngsters on the books. Sid and Joy have both completed the Coach Bowls Level 1 and Level 2 awards.

As with all aspects of the sport, fundraising is essential.  Sid and Joy dived straight in with determination and after several fundraising events, they had money to buy and supply all the young players with kit utilising a loan scheme.  Through their hard work and endless dedication Dorset’s first Junior club was formed.

The numbers of youngsters taking up our sport in Dorset boomed, between 2015 and 2016, the numbers increased to 38 and in order to keep the new players entertained & enthused new tournaments and matches were introduced to increase the competition.

2017 was a key year for this hard-working couple when they met with other bowls coaches from other  Dorset clubs that were interested in setting up their own junior section.  A DVD and activity booklet was put together  detailing the effective activities that had been put in place at Blandford . This was then  distributed to any club interested in starting up a junior section.  It was at this meeting the idea of a Dorset Youth Academy was proposed and a steering committee was formed to oversee the formation and implantation of the Academy.  It was no surprise that Sid and Joy, with their knowledge and dedication were founding committee members.

The success kept growing, in May 2018 Sid and Joy were instrumental in setting up and running a ‘Festival of Bowls’ at which nearly 100 people of all ages took part in fun activities and challenges that Sid had created.

The inauguration for the Dorset Youth Bowls Academy took place in 2019, this was in conjunction with the 15 – 20 hours coaching that both Sid and Joy were already doing on a weekly basis. They sacrificed their own bowls and dedicated their entire days to the youngsters, which is true commitment and dedication.  In recognition of their efforts the pair received the Mayor’s Certificate of Appreciation in 2021.

The success of the Dorset Youth Bowls Academy has been seen throughout the Country with many Counties contacting Sid and Joy to discuss ways to emanate the success in their own areas.

The success that Sid and Joy has had with teaching the value of bowls as a sport to young people and ensuring the game has a bright future is worthy of recognition

Story of the Year Award sponsored by Bowls International – The Nominees

A staple of the Bowls England calendar, this accolade celebrates an incredible marketing initiative at club or county level which has led to a growth in participation, or has increased exposure for the sport.

Barrie De Suys - Addlestone Victory Park BC, Surrey

‘Many locals consider him the Addlestone’s very own Captain Tom’

Barrie de Suys retired from playing outdoor bowls in 2016, at 87 Barrie’s medical records include heart attacks, debilitating arthritis, a hip replacement and heart surgery.  Yet despite this Barrie’s willingness to serve his local community remained strong and he has managed to inspire new members, of all ages, to experience the enjoyment of Lawn Bowls at his club Addlestone Victory Park.  From just 5 member at the start of the 2021 season, to at least forty by its close, Barrie provides inspiration of other council clubs. During 2020, the local council began moves to end the clubs subsidy – which looked like the end of the road for Addlestone Victory .

Not with Barrie around! In 2020 he took it upon himself to draw people into the park and the green by walking around its 965 metre perimeter to raise money for the RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People). He completed this route an astonishing 2,400 times and raised an amazing five-figure sum. This was in spite of suffering heat stroke and several stumbles along the way.  In total he covered 1,440 miles which is further than Lands’ End to John O’Groats. Barrie gained attention from local residents, drawing people into the park to watch his efforts which in turn created an interest in bowls.

Barrie then turned his attention to the club, he single-handedly painted the Boards surrounding the green, gardened around the green every day, umpired when called on and started coaching a new adults with learning difficulties bowls group –which he had set up himself. The club invested all of its remaining funds in recruitment. Signing up for Bowls England’s ‘Bowls Big Weekend’ saw 25 new members sign up on the day. Barrie, now nicknamed the ‘Duracell Bunny’, reputation in the local community grew and park-goers were drawn into the Club to see him – people joined up because of his local reputation!

Encouraged by other members and despite his various ailments, Barrie started to play the game again with the aid of a mechanical arm. It took a significant physical and technical effort as Barrie had to relearn his stroke, but he overcame adversity. For new bowlers and weaker bowlers in the Club, giving up was not an option. If Barrie could play, so could they. His spirit and encouragement kept them playing.

The nomination form for Barrie opened with: ‘Let us tell you of the wonderful story of Barrie de Suys and the revival of a bowls club’.

Peter Jones - Bristol St Andrew's BC, Gloucestershire

‘Bowls is a great spectacle under lights’

Peter Jones has been the main driving force behind most, if not all, the changes at Bristol St. Andrews BC over the last 11 years.

His main success came in the form of new club floodlights. It was Peter’s idea and he subsequently obtained quotes and researched the various finance and grant applications. Peter managed to obtain £27,000 in grants from Sport England, and then alongside a team of members, he dug the installation sites for the lights and for the trench cabling.  This was a major undertaking, but it saved the club over £5,000 in labouring costs.

Never a man to rest on his laurels, Peter started work on establishing a new league for then Covid related restrictions eased, one that could be played utilising the new floodlights.

Scheduling, participants and the various local authority restrictions all had to be consider and overcome.  Once ‘go ahead’ was secured, Peter sent out invitations to all the Bristol Clubs. The response was overwhelming, resulting in an oversubscription of entries. The matches took place between September 15th and October 9th and were an enormous success. All thanks to the hard work, dedication and commitment of Peter.

ITV News arrived and filmed the event live on the first fixture of the floodlit league! The event was additionally covered on the BBC News Bristol website. Peter was quoted as saying “Bowls is a great spectacle under lights” – the events certainly attracted a number of non-playing spectators.

In addition to the floodlit league, Peter also runs an extremely popular and competitive fours tournament, which is regularly oversubscribed.

Peter has contributed significantly to promoting the game of bowls generally; he has made a mark with his innovative floodlit league securing a ‘bright’ future for the game for his club and across the county.

The nomination for Peter closed with the remarks: ‘This award would be a very fitting reward for the man who can, and does, do everything’.

West Wimbledon BC, Surrey

‘It turns out that it only takes one to change things forever’

Celebrating a centenary is a joyful time for any Bowls Club, but for West Wimbledon the start of the 2021 season was not jubilant. A dwindling club, with ageing male-only membership; it was in dire financial hardship. Members had loaned the club money just to survive and the green had seen better days. The Committee acknowledged that something had to be done, and fast!

Like many other clubs, West Wimbledon hired out the clubhouse for local functions.  It was a good opportunity to find additional revenue, and to entice the public to come back and have a go.  The pre-conception that the club was for the elderly and was not seen as welcoming, did not help – but it turns out that it only takes one to change things forever. A local lady agreed to organise an evening with her husband and ten other local couples to try our great sport. Whilst the evening was a great success, only one from the group joined as a member – but sometimes that one is enough!

Falling in love with the sport and he quickly began convincing local friends to try it out. Immediately increasing the membership by 10. Word of mouth continued and soon club membership was expanding rapidly. In 2021 the Club has also welcomed its first LGBT members as well as six visually impaired bowlers. As a bonus West Wimbledon can now boast a VI Bowls England international player in the ranks!

The diversity of the new membership generated a range of new ideas to implement and expand on.  Weekend matches against local teams were switched to mid-week evenings to accommodate young families; there was greater use of social media; and organised training sessions for new bowlers and children.

With new members, the financial situation started to improve and members completed the total refurbishment of the Clubhouse, including a mural of the 1921 members emphasising the unity and spirit.

There is so much to be said about West Wimbledon Bowling Club; appointing its first ethnic minority member to the committee; increasing membership to 105; having funds in the bank; a buzzing social calendar and a full engagement with the local community.  West Wimbledon has much to be admired in terms of its growth and outlook a club with a feel for the past but an eye firmly on the future.

The nomination form for West Wimbledon opened with: ‘This story will tell how the perseverance of the members led to a series of events that have put the Club not only in its strongest financial position ever but also returned it to be being an integral part of the local community’

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