It was a proud day for Berkhamsted Bowls Club as they were named Bowls England’s Club of the Year for 2015 – finally taking the title having been runners-up in both 2012 and 2013.
The prestigious title is awarded annually to the club that is judged to have shown the greatest efforts to promote itself, increase membership and work with the local community.
Berkhamsted BC beat off stiff competition from runners-up Lyndhurst BC (Durham) and fellow finalists Cowplain BC (Hampshire) and Chacewater BC (Cornwall) to take the crown at a celebration event at the Hilton Hotel in Coventry.
The club celebrated its 30th anniversary last year and recorded several major achievements in the process, including the addition of 31 new members – making it one of the most successful recruitment campaigns in the country for the fifth year running.
Berkhamsted already boasts the largest junior section in the county since introducing junior bowls four years ago, while blind member Sarah Marshall represented England at the World Disability Games in Auckland and picked up the bronze medal. She also picked up the British B2 Championship.
On top of this, Berkhamsted BC organised and hosted the first ever U18 Junior Singles Championship for the Watford & District Association, while the club won top prize for services to disabled sport at the Dacorum Sports Awards, in conjunction with the Gazette.
The club was also named runners-up in the Sports Club of the Year category and was nominated for Community Club of the Year at the Hertfordshire Sports Awards.
To cap off a superb year, one of Berkhamsted BC’s founder members, Marcia Dunstone, was named Bowls England President for 2015 – the Club of the Year award, however, was independently judged.
Berkhamsted BC president Kevin Clarke said “We are flattered by the award which will encourage us to deliver an even better and more adaptable club that pleases all who visit.
“Four years ago we set about making this a glamorous game that appealed to the young as much as anyone; in the process we have enhanced our opportunities to connect with the community and deliver more leisure to all ages.
“We are a progressive club that is always striving to deliver enjoyment, quality, friendship and recreation.
“We are looking to build a community club that has bowls at its core rather than be purely a bowls club. This may sound ambitious but we want Berkhamsted to eventually become synonymous with Bowls so, this is just the start.”
This year the club are already planning for the start of the new season in April with their own car parking being built, as well as having the clubhouse and it surroundings redeveloped.
Apart from holding a prestigious match with Bowls England as part of their prize, the club will also be hosting a men’s county match versus Wiltshire and a match with Disability Bowls England.
The club also has four youngsters playing in the National Junior Championships at Leamington in August, and Berkhamsted will again be staging the incredibly popular Gala Day, attended by 24 teams.
As part of its recruitment drive this year the club wants to emphasise the benefits of the game – citing physical exercise, competition, friendship, mindfulness and social interaction as prime reasons for taking part.
Berkhamsted BC welcomes all ages and abilities to go along and have a free taster session throughout May – all equipment is provided free and the club only asks that anyone attending takes flat soled shoes with them so they don’t harm the wonderful green that is now one of the best in the county.
The club is also looking for local sponsors to help realise its ambitions for sport and the town. All enquiries regarding this and free bowling opportunities can be found at www.berkhamstedbowlsclub.co.uk