Words: John Baron
A Stanningley couple are on a mission – to raise the profile of a much-loved crown green bowling club and ensure it thrives into the future.
Alyssa Randell and her partner Andy Marshall, who are in their early 30s, joined Stanningley Park Crown Green Bowling Club last year so they could have something they could do together outside in the fresh air and meet new people at the same time.
They joined just after the council performed a U-turn on proposals to close half of the city’s local authority-maintained bowling greens.
Alyssa, 32, is encouraging people young and old – and families – to take up the sport, and described the green in Stanningley Park as an important community asset. She said:
“Trying to join the club was a challenge in itself as finding out contact information or even how to join was not readily available, and this is a problem that these clubs have in gaining new and younger members which, in turn, keeps the sport of crown green bowling going.
“There are so many benefits of the game as it is suitable for ages eight-80+, requires very little equipment, is low cost, quick to learn, is gentle exercise and, importantly at the moment, is very Covid safe due to it being outdoors and naturally socially distanced.
“After reading through some of the old minutes from club meetings, some going back 60 years, it was apparent that the bowling club was a real community hub with people of all ages getting together to play and socialise. my intention is to try and restore that as much as I can for Stanningley and prove to the council how invaluable bowling greens are to the wider community.”
Her partner, Andy Marshall, 33, has always loved bowls, ever since he used to pass the green in Pudsey Park with his friend as a child. He said:
“If you’re working, it’s always been very difficult to join. Although it appeals to older people, it’s great fun for young people as well.
“You can’t beat the game – it’s like an outdoor version of outdoor snooker. Why would you want to be in a dark and drab snooker hall when you could be outside in the sun and fresh air? The green is particularly lovely in summer.
“We’re a friendly bunch, people are welcome to come in and talk to us. We want to make it easier for people to get involved.”
Alyssa said the club was planning some open days when the warmer weather comes to make it more accessible, and added: “We’re hoping to get some funding for more equipment, particularly that younger members, like our juniors, can use.
“I’d encourage people to come along and give it a go. I’m not a sporty or competitive person. It was something I could pick up easily and have a go at. More importantly, it was something I could do where I could get out of the house and meet people.”
The cost is £45 for full members. If you do not wish to be a full member, you can join as an associate (social) member of the club for only £10. Just ask for more details.
The club can be contacted through social media or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join bowling green community clean-up
Don your marigolds and join volunteers for a morning of sprucing up the green ready for the new season.
Come down any time between 10am and 12pm on Saturday, 5 February, and grab a brush and help with tasks such as litter picking, clearing twigs and leaves, weeding, jet washing paths, cleaning and organising the clubhouse. Cake and refreshments will be available.
The club is also on the look-out for donations of anything to improve our outdoor space such as plants, decorative pots, tables, benches etc.