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Spalding and District Indoor Bowls club invests in new equipment





A new piece of equipment will enable players with mobility issues to continue the game they love at a sports club.

Spalding and District Indoor Bowls has invested in a new electric wheelchair for those who have health issues.

These may include trouble breathing, heart problems or who can no longer walk the green which is up to 40 metres in length.

Councillors Jan Whitmore, James Le Sage, Ingrid Sheard, Elizabeth Sneath, Gary Taylor, Laura Eldridge, Allan Beal from South Holland District Council with members of Spalding Bowls Club Maisie Belding, Jan Sinclair, Alan and Hazel Tokley, Graham Hicks. PHOTO: JENNY BEAKE
Councillors Jan Whitmore, James Le Sage, Ingrid Sheard, Elizabeth Sneath, Gary Taylor, Laura Eldridge, Allan Beal from South Holland District Council with members of Spalding Bowls Club Maisie Belding, Jan Sinclair, Alan and Hazel Tokley, Graham Hicks. PHOTO: JENNY BEAKE

Initially two club members Maisie Belding and Jan Sinclair raised the funds required to purchase the wheelchair, however South Holland District Council decided to match-fund and paid £1,800 so that members could continue to be involved with the game when their body may not have otherwise allowed.

Indoor bowls club president Julie Hicks said: “For those with COPD, walking up and down is too much for them.

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“But when they use the wheelchair they can still play the game.”

The indoor green is quite a long way to walk for those with health issues
The indoor green is quite a long way to walk for those with health issues

This is the case for some players who are in their nineties such as Dick Salmon (99) and Annie Stacey (92) and it means they can still belong to the club which has a ramp for access.

Coun Elizabeth Sneath, portfolio holder for health and wellbeing, conservation and heritage, said: “This is what we needed for people to get out and keep socialising.

“Because it covers a lot of our wards, not just Spalding, it is really important and we decided to contribute the full amount.”

The club provides health and wellbeing for players from the ages of nine up to 99
The club provides health and wellbeing for players from the ages of nine up to 99

Jan has been a member of the club for 16 years – and has described it as a ‘godsend’.

She said: “The wheelchair makes such a difference.

“A lot will have missed out who are experienced bowlers.

The club has a ramp onto the green for wheelchair access
The club has a ramp onto the green for wheelchair access

“For anybody on their own this place is a godsend – it gets me out.”

Bowling buddy Maisie Belding, who lost her husband a year ago, agrees. She said: “We do have members who have heart conditions.

“One was devastated to have to stop bowling.

Maisie Belding, Julie Hicks, Jan Sinclair
Maisie Belding, Julie Hicks, Jan Sinclair

“Now we have the wheelchair – she’s back – and that’s what is important.

“There is always someone up here to talk to and it gives people a reason to go out.”

Coun Ingrid Sheard, who represents Spalding Monkshouse ward, said: “It is a fantastic group of people and so welcoming.

“Now with the wheelchair they are able to come along, get fit and get healthy.”

Bowling is open to people of all ages – members range from nine-years-old to 99 – and people of all abilities are welcome.

Graham Hicks, bowls coordinator, said: “For people with COPD and heart problems it’s not the bowling that is the issue but the walking up and down and mobility that can be the problem.

“Players can now sit in the wheelchair and motor up and down, get out and bowl.

“As a club it is the only sort of sport where up to the age of 90 you can still play.”

Continuing to enjoy the game and socialising are key factors to why the wheelchair was needed.

The club’s coach and safeguarding officer Alan Tokley said: “It has given people much more ability to play.

“We have a few who can’t walk and it has given them the freedom to enjoy the game.

“This is the only game where a nine-year-old can play against a 99-year-old.”

The club is friendly and encourages a healthy competitive spirit.

Coun Allan Beal added: “The wheelchair gives those who are less able the opportunity to join in and to keep involved in social activities.”

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