Club jacks up recruitment

A LONG-RUNNING bowls group could be forced to cut its sessions as it faces a dearth of members.

Morpeth Storey Park Carpet Bowls Club holds sessions twice a week, as well as travelling across Northumberland for competitions.

The Mayor of Morpeth Joan Tebbutt visiting Storey Park Community Centre to play bowls with the Morpeth Storey Park Carpet Bowls Club who are looking for new members. GM022775

The Mayor of Morpeth Joan Tebbutt visiting Storey Park Community Centre to play bowls with the Morpeth Storey Park Carpet Bowls Club who are looking for new members. GM022775

But while it has 30 members on its books, only about a dozen are turning up, and the club is struggling to meet its fees for room hire.

The group is faced with either increasing its charges for members, or cutting one of its sessions altogether.

However, it has launched a two-pronged attack to try to stave off the decision by investigating whether it can become a charitable enterprise to secure discounted hire charges, and appealing for new members.

Chairman John Gibson said: “We used to get young people coming in, or people who had just retired in their 50s or 60s, but now it just seems that nobody is taking up the game and it is getting a bit difficult to get new members.

“We have got three carpets so we could have 24 people playing at a time. If we got 24 people, that would be fine, but at the moment we can’t even cover the hire charges with the amount of people coming along.

“It costs £2 a person for each two-hour session so if there is a couple it is £8 a week. These people are pensioners so we can’t ask much more than that to play.

“Anybody who comes along would be more than welcome and we would teach them how to play.”

Member Betty Green has been a fan of the game since 1986 when she started playing at Stannington Village Hall. She now plays at both Storey Park and St James’s Centre in Morpeth, and has even bowled on a Norwegian ferry.

She said: “I love bowling and the competition of it, trying to get as near to the jack as possible. Some days I’m good, but everybody can have a bad day. I love coming along to play. It has been my saviour since my husband died.”

The oldest member of the group is 91-year-old David Ramsay, who also plays at St James’s and Longhirst.

“I love the companionship of it, it’s a social event really,” he said.

“I started playing when my wife died 20 years ago. One woman who was in the same ward as her at the hospital suggested why not join the bowls club, so I did.”

Morpeth Mayor Joan Tebbutt and her escort Alison Byard visited the group last week to show their support and try the game for themselves.

Coun Byard said: “I think it would be a real shame if the club has to cut a session because it is important to people’s social life and fitness.

“We are looking to see if there is anything we can do to help. I think it is very important to support our senior citizens.”

The club meets at Storey Park every Tuesday, from 1.15pm to 3.45pm, and on Thursdays, from 6.45pm to 9.15pm. Anybody is welcome to attend, or for further information call Secretary Joan Gibson on 01670 513586.