For most people tenpin bowling is something to do on a wet afternoon in Half Term or a night out with friends. For me and loads of others its a great sport for all ages.
This year marks a sporting milestone in my life. That’s correct you did read it right me and sport do go together. This year I mark 50 years of tenpin bowling. Every Saturday I would head off to Tolworth bowl. In fact my whole family use to bowl. We started after an invitation from our neighbour Bess Harding MBE, you will know Bess from Epsom Medical Equipment Fund charity, to give it a go. We were hooked from the start. In fact as a family one of us were bowling most nights of the week.
I loved my Saturday mornings bowling. With help from the coaches, after a few years, I was picked to represent the bowl in many competitions across the country. I was eventually picked to represent Surrey and at one point I was one of the top ten junior bowlers in the UK.
My proudest moment was at Worthing Bowl in May 1978 where after a weekend of bowling I won the Singles National Championship. I was the GB National Champion. Presented with my gold medal and trophy by The Duchess of Norfolk.
So, it’s great to report junior bowling is still going strong at Hollywood Bowl, in Tolworth. The former Charrington Bowl is now home to over 15 leagues for all ages, and on Saturdays its the Youth Bowling Club’s turn on the lanes. 20 young people as young as 8 and as old as 21, competing in their regular Saturday morning league. The league is a ‘handicap’ league that means that all bowlers have a chance of winning, no matter their age or how long they have been bowling for.
Simon Durrant, whose day job is running Epsom Downs Racecourse, is also a licensed British Tenpin Bowling Association (BTBA) Coach at the Club. He told me; “The fabulous thing about tenpin as a sport, is that anyone can do it and stay fit and have fun – but there’s also an opportunity to compete nationally, or even internationally if you’re motivated.”
To prove the point, the current Mens European Champion, Matty Clayton, who is a regular at Tolworth, with some of his England team-mates visited the bowl to inspire the young people. One in particular was having a very good day. Chloe Peralta, Tolworth bowler and part of the Surrey team who are current national champions, bowled a perfect game. 300, thats 12 strikes in a row in one game, something I have never done but got close with 10 strikes.
As Simon points out “That happens maybe once in a lifetime for some bowlers, and for some, even the best in the world, it never happens at all. An amazing achievement,”
Simon concluded; “Our club has room for lots more bowlers, so if you’re between 8 and 21, and want to have fun, and improve your bowling, come along and get signed up. You never know, it could be you representing Surrey or England, or even bowling that perfect game in the future!”
If your young people want to give competitive bowling a go, or just want to improve, you can just turn up to Tolworth Youth Bowling Club at Tolworth Hollywood Bowl at 9.30am any Saturday morning. The first two weeks are free to try, and all coaches are DBS checked and licensed by the BTBA.
As for me I’m still bowling, others may say still trying, but enjoy every minute of it and over the years have made many wonderful friends.
Big Thank You to Simon, all the coaches and of course all the bowlers for the photos and interviews.