SOPHIE TOLCHARD, 26 FROM DEVON
I was born into a sporting family so I’ve spent my whole life either watching sport or playing myself. When I was younger, before I took up bowls, I played a lot of netball which I really enjoyed for years but due to the hectic bowls schedule, bowls eventually took over. At school, I studied GCSE sport which I loved, as I had the opportunity to play pretty much every sport and learn about it. Most of my weekends are spent playing sport and if not playing, I’m watching sport on the TV.
Bowls has always been part of our family life. My dad and brother started playing first. Sadly, my dad passed away when I was 12, so from then on, I spent a lot of my up-bringing with my mum going to watch and support my older brother play. After many years I decided I wanted to play properly. There were lots of competitions and junior games to get involved with in the local area which definitely helped as I was surrounded by people of the same age. This spurred me on as there was a group of us who played together and years on, many of us still play and remain good friends.
Once I started playing, I have never looked back. I think mainly because I’ve always been competitive and bowls is a vehicle that allows me to exercise my competitive nature. I’ve been lucky enough to play for my county, then go onto play for England and now be part of the elite squad. The friendships I have formed throughout the years have definitely helped as I have lots of great people around me to play with so we have fun both on and off the green.
Bowls can offer women all of the above like me….the opportunity to be competitive and as it has a great social side so you can make friends for life. Bowls is also a sport for everyone which is the best thing about it.
ELLEN FALKNER, 38 FROM CAMBRIDGESHIRE
I was introduced to bowls through my dad and mum who both play. I have always been sporty, playing hockey, football and tennis at a decent standard. Bowls sat alongside many other sports while I was in my youth. It was only when I left University at the age of 21 that I fully committed myself to bowls. This decision was very much driven by how I felt when playing for the England Junior International team, which first happened when I was 17. I loved the thrill of representing my country and it was the best weekend of the whole year as far as I was concerned.
Being competitive by nature, bowls has provided many opportunities for me to compete from club level to the world stage. I have been incredibly lucky to travel the world, test myself at the highest level, share some amazing experiences with team mates and develop bonds for life. Bowls has also been a huge part of my family life with my parents and grandparents playing as well as through the sport meeting my husband, Chris. Some of my happiest moments and memories in bowls have been with my family, in particular playing with my mum and nan and it is one of the things that I love most about the sport, that you can play and enjoy it with those you care about most.
From family to friends, most of my closest friends, I have met through bowls. A common interest and passion that has brought so many of us together. Yes, our sport can be competitive on the green, but off the green, it generally is such a friendly community to be part of. I also don’t know of another sport where you can develop such a wide friendship base from late teens to late 70s! I have also seen first-hand from friends who have been through difficult times, from fighting cancer or to losing a partner, how bowls has given them something to focus positively on as well as providing a tremendous support network.
In addition to playing, more recently, I have also entered into coaching and management roles and was hugely honoured to be the Team Leader for the Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa. It is a way that I can give something back to the sport that has given me so much and hopefully help others to achieve and fulfil their dreams.
I think bowls can be what a woman wants it to be. It can be a way of meeting new people, making friends, and a safe place to go and be part of a community. It can also be a sport through which you can develop and progress and play at different levels and represent your club, county or country. On the green, I think bowls is the all-round package. It is both technical and tactical and is a real test of your mental abilities too. I also find that it is a sport that you never master and as much as this sometimes frustrates me, it is why I keep coming back for more!
Time to get more women playing, coaching and volunteering in bowls!
The Bowls Development Alliance (BDA), in partnership with Bowls England (BE) and the English Indoor Bowling Association (EIBA) continues to grow the WOMEN CAN campaign which aims to empower and inspire more women to become involved and participate in the sport of lawn bowls as a coach, player, administrator or official.
Currently only 39% of the bowling club population in England are women, and this campaign has been developed to increase that number to 45% by 2021.
Kara Purvis from the Bowls Development Alliance (BDA) leads on this national campaign says “Our WOMEN CAN campaign has really grown over the last year and continues to grow in momentum, we have now launched a WOMEN CAN resource pack which is available to any club who signs up via our website at www.playbowls.org/womencan”
Ellen Falkner, 3 times Commonwealth Games Gold medallist has been heavily involved with the campaign and continues to be an ambassador says;
"To be involved in a campaign to encourage more women to enjoy the sport of bowls is a fantastic opportunity for me to give something back to the sport I love. It is difficult to articulate in words the impact that bowls has had on my life as it has been so significant. Some of my happiest moments and memories in bowls have been with my family, especially playing with my mum and nan and it is one of the things that I love most about the sport, that you can play and enjoy it with those you care about most."
Ellen has been working with the Bowls Development Alliance team in phase one and two of the project. The aim is to bring to life the many different things that bowls can offer women, from social to competitive, from friendship to fun and enlist the help of other women to tell their stories to inspire other women to get involved. We hope that through doing this, a woman will identify with something another woman says which ignites their interest to go along to their local club and get involved either on or off the green.
Our team of WOMEN CAN Leaders continue to support clubs around the country to work with bowls clubs to increase participation, coaching, officiating or administration opportunities for women, alongside BDA staff or a WOMEN CAN Ambassador who actively promote and raise the profile of the WOMEN CAN campaign and articulate and promote the positive value of taking part in bowls for women.
Why not watch the WOMEN CAN video below?
The Bowls Development Alliance(BDA) along with their partners Bowls England(BE) and the English Indoor Bowling Association(EIBA) are committed to ensuring there is diversity and equality throughout their organisations and that no individuals (including players, spectators, coaches. officials, administrators and staff) receive less favourable treatment on the grounds of their age, gender, race, disability, religion or socio-economic status. The sport aims to make a welcoming environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people thus ensuring that the sport of bowls is truly accessible to everyone
They are also committed to reaching, recruiting and retaining people from all communities including those playing, watching, volunteering or working within it and creating and maintaining a safe and positive environment for everyone to play and enjoy the sport of bowls.
The BDA Board of Directors has adapted a target of a minimum of 30% of each gender to be represented on their board and are committed to progressing towards gender parity. This is as well as working to achieve greater diversity on the board including but not limited to black, asian, minority ethnic, (BAME) diversity and disability representation.
Over the next three and a half years they will work to foster all aspects of diversity both within its leadership and in the decision-making process.
Board of Directors
The BDA Board of Directors is made up of 3 Non-Executive Independent Directors and with 2 nominated Directors from each partner National Governing Body (EIBA Ltd & Bowls England).
Malcolm Douglas – Non-Executive Independent Director & Chairman
Malcolm was appointed as an Independent Non-Executive Director and elected as Chairman in May 2017.
Malcolm has a wealth of business experience notably as Group Managing Director of Swatch Group UK Ltd, Managing Director of Polar Electro UK Ltd and Global President of Polar Electro Group. He is now Executive Chairman of Patterson Elliott Management Ltd.
Malcolm's role is to lead the Board, ensuring that the highest standard of probity & governance apply in relations to operations, development of the business, of the organisation and its strategy in accordance with its purposes set out in the governing document and all legal regulatory requirement.
Terry Maywood – Senior Non-Executive Independent Director
Terry was appointed as an Independent Non-Executive Director in 2015 and elected by the Board as Senior Non-Executive Independent Director April 2017.
Terry has a wealth of experience in the retail sector and has completed many a sporting challenge for charity.
Terry is the Chair of the BDA’s Audit Committee.
Gavin Baker – Non-Executive Independent Director
Gavin was appointed as an Independent Non-Executive Director in 2018.
Gavin has a wealth of experience in the sports sector.
Peter Thompson – Director, representing EIBA Ltd
Peter was appointed as Director in 2010 to represent the English Indoor Bowling Association Ltd.
Peter is the EIBA’s Chief Executive, a position his has held since January 2009. He has 24 years experience of working in Sport predominantly in the areas of Commercial, Marketing and Senior Management.
His role on the Board is to ensure the sport of flat green indoor bowls continues to be an integral part of the BDA but to provide guidance / assistance in Governance and business operations.
Tony Allcock MBE – Director, representing Bowls England
Tony was appointed as a Director in 2010 to represent Bowls England.
Professionally, he is a qualified teacher and was formerly employed by Gloucestershire County Council as Head of several Educational Centres for people with Learning Difficulties. He subsequently ran a successful business before being appointed Chief Executive of the English Bowling Association in 2002. This followed his retirement from World Class Play and a playing career which spanned several decades during which he accumulated 15 World titles. He led the amalgamation with the English Women’s Bowling Association, forming Bowls England, a Company Limited by guarantee by 35 County Associations. Bowls England currently serves over 100,000 affiliated members . Tony is also a Non-Executive Director of the Kennel Club.
Tony’s role (with other Directors) is to oversee the management of the company's business; to be part of strategic and operational decisions to ensure that company meets its statutory obligations.
Created in 2017 as part of Bowls Development Alliance (BDA)’s four-year Sport England-funded Delivery Plan, the Club Development Programme offers Bowls England and English Indoor Bowling Association affiliated clubs across the country a unique support programme to develop and better sustain their current membership numbers and recruit new members into the sport.
Every club that signs up to the programme will receive direct support from the BDA to create a Club Development Plan that will help the club not only to provide the best experience for its present members but support new recruitment initiatives to increase their current membership. Each club involved is allocated one of our club development officers who will be supporting the club committee throughout their engagement in the programme. Up to £500 in funding is available to support clubs working on this programme.
To be eligible to apply, clubs need to meet the following criteria:
• Clubs must be affiliated to either Bowls England or the English Indoor Bowling Association.
• Clubs must have seen a net membership decline of 3% or more over the past 2 years.
• Clubs must be willing to be proactive and take on tasks set out in a Development Plan.
• Clubs must have a demonstrable capacity for membership growth.
The application window remains open until further notice. As we are expecting a high number of applications, we encourage clubs to apply as soon as possible to ensure a timely start. For those clubs that do not meet the criteria, please be aware that the Play Bowls Package is available to all affiliated clubs via the twice-yearly application windows.
Our engagement with each club is unique, and depending on the needs, challenges and circumstances we offer a bespoke support package of direct advice and consultation, courses, workshops, templates, guides, examples of best practice and more. Having said that, the core of our engagement with each club involves what is described in the graph above.
To find out more information about what the programme involves, evidence of how its impact on clubs and quotes from club committee members and county officials, please read the Guidance Notes attached below. We have also attached a number of case studies showcasing the positive influence of the Club Development Programme on clubs that took part in it.
Additional Support for Clubs
Club Matters, the essential one-stop-shop for sports clubs, will provide you with support, learning and guidance on all aspects of running a club whether it is large, small, formal or informal. Club Matters offers free, simple and bitesize support to all clubs. To use the Club Matters' resources, simply visit their website and sign up for free.
We are delighted to announce Macmillan Cancer Support as our ‘Charity of the Year’ for 2017/18.
The Bowls Development Alliance and Bowls Clubs across England will be taking part in the effort to raise £25,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support. We are hoping that as many clubs as possible will get involved during this time to host localised fundraising events on behalf of Macmillan Cancer Support that will contribute to our target.
Jo-Anne Wilson from Macmillan said: ‘We are delighted to have been chosen as the Bowls Development Alliance’s first charity partner.’
‘At Macmillan, we know cancer can affect everything. Your body, your relationships, your money, everything. But Macmillan is here to help people live life, no matter what. We give them the support they need to hold on to who they are and what’s important.’
‘We would like to thank BDA for choosing us and we are looking forward to working with them on the fundraising week and throughout the year. We are excited to have them joining the Macmillan Team and wishing them the very best of luck.’
Susan Cooper, Development Director for the Bowls Development Alliance said “The BDA are delighted to be working with Macmillan Cancer Support on this initiative, the funds raised will make such a difference to those living with the effects of cancer and I know the bowlers and bowls clubs across the country will get together to generate as many donations as possible”
The money raised from our partnership will be used to fund Macmillan’s vital cancer services including specialist nurses working throughout the NHS, a nurse-run support line and grants for cancer patients with money problems.
Susan Cooper - Development Director
Susan as Development Director is responsible for the strategic development of the Bowls Development Alliance (BDA) and ensuring that targets outlined in the Play Bowls Strategy 2017-2021 document are met. She also has responsibility for securing continued funding from Sport England (SE) and other partners and ensuring targets agreed with them are also met. She is responsible for the nine team members and reports directly to the BDA Board of Directors. Susan also has overall responsibility for the Budget, Governance, Coach Bowls and Safeguarding.
Chris Parkin - Finance & Governance Manager
Chris is responsible for all the finance and governance processes associated with a funding award, alongside the administration of all working aspects of the organisation. He is responsible for the budget and the quarterly reporting to Sport England which is crucial for funding to be released to the BDA. He works closely with the Development Director and provides support to the Insight & Development Manager and Coaching Manager as well as other team members. He line manages the Administration Officer and oversees the running of the office.
Jon Hart - Development Manager
Jon’s role is to oversee and manage the club and community delivery of the BDA. This includes the Club Development Programme and Just Bowl, ensuring that both are hitting their targets outlined in the Play Bowls Strategy 2017-2021. He also has the responsibility of leading on the Data and Insight for the BDA to ensure that all areas of work are hitting their targets which is reported to Sport England on a 6 monthly basis. Jon works within the senior management team alongside the Development Director and the Finance & Governance Manager.
George Babalev - Club Development Co-ordinator
George’s role is to Co-ordinate the Club Development Programme and to ensure that targets outlined in the Play Bowls Strategy 2017-2021 are met. He also has the responsibility of leading, supporting and developing two Club Development Officers and ensuring they are delivering the programme effectively. George is also the BDA’s Disability Lead and is part of the Disability Steering Group, responsible for the implementation of the National Strategic Disability Action Plan.
Conor Grogan - Club Development Officer
Conor is the Club Development Programme officer for the south of England. His role is to ensure the clubs that have successfully applied for the programme have the support they need to grow new members, retain existing members and in doing so reinforcing the long-term sustainability of clubs.
Kara Purvis - Administration Officer (Part-Time)
Kara works in our head office at Melton Mowbray and works closely with the Finance & Governance Manager works to ensure the smooth running of the office. Her main duties included the administration of the Play Bowls Package scheme and leading our Women Can programme. Kara works Monday to Thursday, 10am to 2pm.
An imperative part of BDA’s 2017-2021 strategy is continuing to champion and embed disability in every aspect of our work. As a result of our 2013-2017 strategy, we have now seen just over 3,500 disabled participants playing bowls regularly (figures correct as of March 2017) after attending BDA funded events.
The following major steps have also been made in the past few years:
The BDA, along with Bowls England, English Indoor Bowling Association, Disability Bowls England and Activity Alliance form the Disability Steering Group - a body that oversees the progress and development of disability bowls in the country. In the autumn of 2018 the Disability Steering Group published the new National Strategic Disability Action Plan 2018-2021. The aim of the Action Plan is to ensure collaboration and integration of the work of all key partners towards developing bowls into a genuinely inclusive sport by 2021. The Disability Steering group will oversee the successful implementation of the Action Plan in order to achieve its vision to promote inclusion, increase participation and develop performance within disability bowls.
Here is what George Babalev, BDA’s disability lead, had to say about the publication of the strategic document: “The Action Plan provides a co-ordinated approach between the organisations responsible for the development of disability bowls. It ensures strategic accountability and improved efficiency of the Disability Steering Group members. It is also important for the bowling community to be aware of the work undertaken by the Disability Steering Group and how one can benefit from it.”
There are 4 key strands the Action Plan focuses on, namely:
1. Data Collection – obtaining and sharing robust and reliable information about disability bowls participation levels in clubs and accessibility of clubs’ facilities for disabled bowlers.
2. Marketing and Communication – producing an all-inclusive information pack that can be used as a guidebook by any clubs that are willing to become more inclusive.
3. Support for Clubs, Coaches and Volunteers – supporting more clubs to obtain a Bowls Disability Mark accreditation scheme; helping train and upskill clubs’ workforce and committees by running more Working with Disabled People in Bowls Modules and Disability Engagement Events; through the Love Fisher Brown Award, acknowledging and rewarding the work of those clubs that lead the way and showcasing them as a model for other clubs to strive towards.
4. Elite Pathways and Competitive Structure – making sure all regional and national competitions remain fully inclusive and cater for disabled participants, officials and spectators.
The full Action Plan is published as an attachment at the bottom of this page and can be accessed at any time.
The Bowls Development Alliance (BDA) is the body for Bowls England (flat green outdoor) and English Indoor Bowling Association Ltd (flat green indoor).
Play Bowls supports Sport England’s vision to produce a more productive, sustainable, resilient and responsible sport sector. This plan puts bowls customers at the heart of its delivery with the aim to make bowls clubs more welcoming and inclusive, particularly for those who are older and those who are currently under-represented in the sport but also help to reinforce a physical activity habit well into later life.
This strategy has aimed to align itself to the priorities laid down by Sport England in the new strategy “Towards an Active Nation” looking to develop more resilient habits, encourage those older people who are presently inactive to become active and develop a more diverse volunteer workforce.
The strategy will also provide opportunities for both physical and mental well- being and to encourage more bowls clubs to be the heart of the local community through the provision of more diverse services.
The next four years will see the following actions:
"Working with flat green clubs to help them and the bowlers within them develop more resilient habits to ensure a stronger sport, the benefits of which can be enjoyed for a life time"
Core Values of the Organisation: