Pensioner power helps Hales to get green

After a long battle, Hales Bowls Club can now look forward to playing on their own new green, writes Viv Thomas.

In a real team effort an army of club volunteers, mostly retired, are working together to prepare the site in the village while others have been busy getting funding.

Hales BC were evicted from their old green by a land developer in 2005 after over 20 years of use.

In the interim they have been reliant on other local clubs allowing them use of their greens – notably Thurlton, Aldeby and Beccles Caxton – to continue their existence as an independent club.

Club treasurer Trevor Squire said: “Hales Bowls Club can at long last see light at the end of the tunnel and look forward to bowling on a new green. Astonishingly, the workforce has been mostly volunteers from the club who are retired.

“In the time since work has started the site has been miraculously transformed into what now looks like will be an excellent bowls green and certainly will be a huge improvement on the ‘postage stamp’ that was taken away from them.”

He added: “In an ideal world, it would have been easier to bring in contractors but with finances tight it’s a case of when needs must.”

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He said Hales BC had been granted “what to the bowls club is a substantial amount of money” from the SNC Neighbourhood Fund which means that top soil and seeding will be possible this autumn or sooner.

Founder member Sue Rochard said: “I am really pleased. I feel it’s going to put the heart back into the village, bring the community together.

“The volunteers are all club members but we have had offers from others in the village. What work has been done has been done with a handful of senior citizens. They really are pulling together. We’re very fortunate in having David Rayner, he’s a digger driver. He has done a wonderful job.”

She said the club probably wouldn’t be able to use the green until the start of the season in 2013.

“It seems an awful long wait but we have come a long way,” she said. “We might be able to use it for one little roll-up towards the end of next year as the season finishes in September but we wouldn’t want to get impatient and damage it,” she stressed.

“It’s for the community. A bowls green in the heart of the village where you can play or watch bowls.

“We needed to have the green here for the villages of Loddon, Chedgrave and our little corner of South Norfolk. If we lost the club, what happens to the league? We can’t all play on one green together. You have got to have the competition. And then there is the social aspect.”

She added: We are very grateful to South Norfolk District Council, they have been extremely helpful.”

Squire commented: “Although the club’s membership has fallen slightly due to the doubters not believing that there was a long-term future for the club, the membership has maintained a level that has seen the club continue successfully in all leagues, as they have done in the past.”

A few years ago the bowls club was approached by Hales Cricket Club who offered a piece of land adjacent to what is now their new cricket ground.

Planning application was granted by the district council and the club put a lot of work into raising funds and applying for financial help.

And now club members just have to apply the finishing touches and let nature takes its course before they can play in the village once more.