As the halfway point of Disability Bowls August approaches, this is a good time to take a quick look back over the past fourteen days which began with the official launch of the promotional month, designed to raise awareness of disability bowls.
In the first part of the month there have been some notable announcements, not least of which the launch of the 2015 National Disability Survey (accessible via https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NationalDisabilitySurvey2015) and the announcement that Plymouth Life Centre IBC were the winners of the 2014/15 Love Fisher Brown Award winners, with Bowls Daventry and New Earswick IBC claiming the two runner up places.
Every Love Fisher Brown Award entrant is to be profiled throughout Disability Bowls August and to date we have heard of the fantastic work taking place at Berkhamstead BC, Bugle Blues VIBC, Bristol IBC as well as the three prize winners. Each entrant is offering chances for disabled people to participate in bowls through a diverse range of opportunities. For example, Bowls Daventry have been taking the sport into care homes and venues where bowls has never been before, whereas Bristol IBC, Bugle Blues VIBC and many other clubs are opening their doors and working hard to develop themselves into genuinely inclusive and accessible facilities where everybody is made to feel welcome and encouraged to take part in the sport.
In addition to club profiles, Disability Bowls August has also focused on individual players such as Bob Love, Steve Angus and Steve Bigg and their tremendous personal achievements within the sport. With more club and individual profiles to come in the latter half of the month, it is hoped that the clubs and current players will be inspired to work even harder to ensure that bowls can be played by anyone, at any venue and at any time.
The flagship event of Disability Bowls August also took place, on the 7th August, at the National Championships in Leamington Spa which saw fourteen people take part in a “Working with Disabled Bowlers” course (for more information, or to book your place on a future course visit www.playbowls.org) alongside an exhibition match featuring Commonwealth Games team members Paul Brown, David Fisher, Steve Simmons and Ellen Falkner (CEO of Love Fisher Brown Award sponsors, AeroBowls). With lots of spectators watching on, the elite players gave a fantastic demonstration of competitive bowls before breaking off to spend some time with those taking part in the aforementioned course.
The second half of Disability Bowls August promises to provide further exciting announcements, including the launch of the first ever whole sport strategic plan which aims to develop the sport for disabled people, written in conjunction with Disability Bowls August, Bowls Development Alliance, Bowls England, English Indoor Bowling Association as well as other key sector partners.
Finally, the BDA can exclusively reveal that during the week commencing 10th August, 2015 the major participation milestone of one thousand new disabled bowlers recruited through BDA funded activity since April 2013 was reached. While there remains lots of work to do, this goes to prove that the sport is developing and succeeding and that clubs, coaches, volunteers and national bodies are increasingly working together to encourage more and more disabled people to take up bowls.