PA WALKER, 41 FROM LEICESTERSHIRE
It was approximately 10 years ago when I went down to my local Bowls Club with my husband, John who was meeting a friend to have a roll up. Unfortunately, the friend wasn’t able to make it, so I reluctantly agreed to give it a try and have a practice with John. In truth, having played badminton and volleyball in my native country of Thailand, playing sport has always appealed to me and having watched John play, I had been interested in what it was all about. According to John, it was immediately obvious that the hours I had spent watching had not been waisted!
People at the club said that I was a ‘natural’ and it wasn’t long before the ladies in the club approached me to start to play properly. It was Di Hurst and Jan Everitt, two of the clubs committee members who took me under their wings and encouraged me to join them playing in competitive games. We started to win county competitions, we qualified through to the national championships, and one year, we won the National Fours! Our success at the nationals attracted interest, and I was over the moon when the England selectors asked me to go to an England trial. In Glasgow in 2013, my dream came true, I played in the British Isles Fours Championships with my club mates and also got my first international for England playing lead in a rink against Jersey.
My experience at international level was cut short, as following some time spent back in Thailand, for family reasons, we decided to move back there for a while. When back in my native country, bowls took a bit of a side step as there are very few greens around where my family is from, with the nearest being in Bangkok, some 4 hours away. However, when we moved back to the UK recently, bowling, again became my number one recreation. I re-joined my original club, Birstall Ladies, who had made me a life member for both my achievements and contributions to the club and who I feel, is my second family. I feel very much at home there and I get heavily involved in club activities, both on and off the green. In the past, I have performed various duties on the committee i.e. league captain and selector and I also do a lot of catering at the club, including Thai food nights which seem to go down well! This year, I intend to play as many competitive games as possible and hopefully do well. It is very much my ambition to represent England again and give back something to the sport that has given me so much.
I think bowls has a lot to offer women. As well as providing competitive opportunities, more importantly it is an extended family that you can belong to and feel part of whether you are in your native home or adopted country.