Suffolk

Lowestoft Blind Bowls Club hosts annual tournament

Lowestoft Blind Bowls Club
Image caption Keith Bell at the Lowestoft Blind Bowls Tournament at Kensington Gardens

Lowestoft's 39th blind bowling championship has had its lowest ever number of entries.

This year's event takes place 4-9 September at the Kensington Gardens bowling green on the seafront.

They have 23 playing this year, compared to the 1980s when they would get over 100 competitors.

Stan Gilbert, tournament organiser, said: "People are getting older and there's not many young ones coming along."

Competitors have a guiding line of string on the green to the jack, while directors/stewards tell them where their bowl has finished by using clock face analogy.

'Camaraderie and fellowship'

Mr Gilbert, who is sighted and coaches at Lowestoft Blind Bowls Club, said: "Most people I can teach in about five lessons.

"Unfortunately, some of them never do get the hang of it properly, but they still enjoy having a go.

"It's a well-known tournament and people have to play three times here before they can enter any of the national competitions."

This year's event features Lowestoft's Gail Hepworth, who is the current national ladies champion in the B4 visually impaired category.

Former Suffolk resident Keith Bell has travelled for the tournament from his home in New Zealand.

He played bowls before he started losing his sight in the late 1970s.

Mr Bell, 71, said: "The directors are telling you if it's on the right line, if the speed or weight of the bowl is good or if it's too heavy or too short.

"The excitement is absolutely still there.

"I think younger people are missing out, because you've got camaraderie and fellowship which is very prevalent in bowls."

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