PEGGY COLE, 86 FROM CAMBRIDGESHIRE
Sport didn’t really interest me as a younger person. There was always too many other things to do, so it really didn’t feature in my life until later on. The only thing that I did do was cycle and walk my dog. Both of which got me out in the fresh air and kept me reasonably fit. The cycling, in part, was out of necessity, as we didn’t all have cars back in the day, let alone two per family!
I took early retirement at the age of 57 due to my husband’s sight failing so that I could be at home to support and care for him. It was important to both of us that being an active man all of his life, that he was still able to get out and about, do things and meet and engage with people.
I was looking for things that he could do when someone in the village mentioned that there was an indoor bowls club around 5 miles away from where we lived, who ran a weekly session for blind bowlers. So, we went along and he loved it. It gave him confidence, helped him come to terms with his sight loss and introduced us to a whole new group of people. He enjoyed the competitiveness of it, both against others and testing himself, and for me, it was about the social side, getting to meet and talk to other partners who were doing the same as me, trying to support their other half with their disability. From indoor bowling, he then tried outdoors, which he took to well, which meant that bowls was something that we could do all year round together.
It actually wasn’t until he passed away that I began playing myself. I was 60 at the time, and I’m now 86! Over the past 25 years, bowls has been there for me, through both good and bad times. I battled cancer and bowls was without doubt, an important part of my recovery. Initially, when I wasn’t well enough to go out, friends from the bowls club would come around to see me, which gave me comfort and company. And then when I started to feel better, the bowls club was the place where I would go to get out of the house. Even though I wasn’t well enough to play at that point, there were always games to watch or people to talk to, so it gave me much needed lifeline.
I play bowls because I love it! The social side is really important to me as it means that I am in company instead of being at home by myself. I also like to play competitive team games. I hope to continue playing as long as possible but even when I can’t, the bowls club is still somewhere I can go and feel like I belong.
I think bowls can offer women many things. When you are older it makes sure you get some exercise, meet people and keeps you feeling young at heart.