Any Age Fits

Gill Sherry

Over 800 bowling clubs are affiliated to Bowls Scotland. Maidens is just one them.

Established in 1968, the club sits adjacent to Maidens Harbour and considers itself the most picturesque bowling club in South Ayrshire. I must admit, it’s hard to argue.

The club can also boast a very healthy membership (currently around 175) but, as Ian Campbell tells me, new members are always welcome.

“We’ve got a very good community spirit. New members are shown what to do. You can borrow bowls and shoes and things like that. The first year’s membership is free, so it gives you a chance to have a go at it. If you don’t like it, you can walk away and it costs you nothing.”

Ian has volunteered on the committee for 40 years. He has served as President twice, Secretary twice, and is now Greens Convener. In other words, he is responsible for the supervision and management of the green. In addition, he was recently made an Honorary Member of the club.

As well as his greenkeeping duties, Ian also takes part in the sport. I ask how he benefits from participating in this much-loved activity.

“It’s very good exercise. If you’re out there for an hour and you haven’t done it before, you’ll know about it! You don’t realise it, but you’re using a lot of muscles that you don’t necessarily use any other time. And it keeps your mind on the go.”

He’s the first to admit that bowls is generally associated with older people and believes this is quite often due to the excellent community spirit and friendships formed within the sport. But he also says there’s a common misconception about age when it comes to bowls.

“The thing about it being an old person’s sport is that you don’t ever give up. You don’t retire from it at 40, you keep going. You keep going till you die, it’s as simple as that. There are people out there in their 90s enjoying it. It’s a relaxing sport, you don’t need to be really fit, but it helps to keep you mobile.”

And, contrary to what many people may think, there are plenty of excellent young bowlers out there.

“It’s the younger people, aged 30 to 50, who win all the championships because they’re more able and probably more determined. There’s a lot of young people involved and they’re all good players. As you get older, you may start to lose your ability a bit, but you don’t lose your love of the game, so you’re always playing. It’s a bit like golf, you don’t hit the ball as far when you’re older, but you still like doing it.”

To use Ian’s words “any age fits” but the same can be said of ability. The premises themselves already cater for the disabled but the club also hopes to accommodate Wheelchair Bowls at some point in the future. In the meantime, plans are in place to extend and modernise the existing building.

“We need the club to be bigger,” says Ian, going on to outline the proposed changes. “It will give us another 30 square metres. The big thing was getting permission… we’re hoping for work to start at the end of this season. We’d like to get started as soon as possible.”

The season runs from the beginning of April to the end of September. Annual membership costs £50 (first year free) regardless of age or ability. The club competes in the Carrick League and also hosts a number of its own club competitions, the trophies for which are on display above the bar.

“Nobody takes them home anymore,” laughs Ian, “because they have to clean them!”

And who wants to do that when they could be outside playing bowls?

For more information, find Maidens Bowling Club on Facebook.