I’m not a national bowler, not even a county bowler, just someone new to the game who was very surprised by what I found. I was 38 and wasn’t in the best place, having a tough time and had sat down with my supervisor for a welfare chat. During the conversation and although not a bowler themselves they mentioned the game to me as they lived next door to a green. I laughed.
I was always an active child, my dad was ex forces, a Para, keen runner, cyclist, and rock climber, I naturally followed in his footsteps. I climbed regularly with him, became a county runner, decent cyclist, and swimmer along with being in the Cubs and Scouts and trying anything I could. I was lucky my folks helped and transported me about to do all these things. However, I soon repaid them in kind, getting out of their hair and left home 4 days after my 17th birthday to join the Army. The forces continued my fuel for sports and adrenaline, I completed P company at 18, became the national junior army triathlon champion, and tried all sorts to keep occupied. Table tennis, squash, golf, several boxing bouts, tug of war and orienteering to name a few and served a tour in Bosnia before leaving.
I joined the police in 2001 and had to give up a fair amount, what with learning the law and shift work ,all was going well until I nearly lost my legs in a work accident due to a dangerous driver. Laid on the hospital bed my thoughts turned to doing something active again, and big being thankful I was all in one piece,I wanted to run up Everest, or along the Great Wall of China, ( must have been the morphine) however realistically with a family and life this wasn’t possible. A couple of years later, my career going well, I accidentally found a treadmill world record on Google, a whole different story but after 6 years of planning, training daily and a failed attempt, finally in 2009 I ran over 468 miles on a treadmill in 7 days and raised over 7k for a local charity, achieving my goal of a GWR and making it into the famous book.
Great, well it was but shortly after I became low, looking back I didn’t really admit it, but I was depressed, after spending that amount of time working towards the GWR I had now lost a goal and focus. I kept up my long distance running and though that helped things weren’t the same. If I’m honest my running after my GWR took its toll trying to achieve the same buzz, it was a step to far , or several if you listen to my wife , but I was stubborn until the point I was suffering mentally and physically with discomfort and eventually pain.
Fast forward to 2017, a number of years of medical tests, rarely and decent night’s sleep, pain, complete lifestyle change with no running, no sport, no front-line work in uniform chasing bad guys , I became even more depressed … and tablets weren’t helping. Don’t get me wrong, I could do most daily things, I just suffered after, turns out I have two minor issues, nerve damage and arthritis both in my neck, together in the same place they are quite a problem with suggestions it will only get worse with age.
Sorry for the slightly long intro, however I’m hoping it highlights my initial instant dismissal of trying bowls, it just isn’t me, I’m far to active, I love the adrenaline and buzz, to push myself, bowls is going to be far too boring. Well about 6 months later I was sat there, feeling low and the bowls comment came into my head, so I thought why not, I’m not doing anything, and my wife was fed up with me under her feet. I took the plunge and popped to the Bracknell Bowling and Social Club, I didn’t know anyone who bowled or any members so I sat alone in the corner after mentioning to the bar staff,I’m here to try the game. I was soon met by some social club members and bowlers and after having a chat I attempted my first wood a few weeks later with the coach. Nowhere near the jack as you would expect, but that was it, I believed my next one would be closer and I’m still trying 4 years later. I was hooked on just trying to better myself, then came playing with club members, the banter, the drinks, and of course that aim of trying too get closer than they did.
There’s a very good social side which I enjoy but it’s the competition and buzz I wasn’t expecting that I enjoy even more. For a game that’s easy to learn, it’s hard to master and keeps you going back for more.
I’m now 42 and so much happier since my supervisor sat me down for a chat, It has helped no end physically, aiding me in feeling active again, keeping my shoulder and neck moving without extra unnecessary stress but also helped mentally with a focus, new friends, and something to look forward to, be it a friendly roll up or a county competition. A billion times better than any medication I had been on over the years which was now significantly reduced.
I was unsure about writing my thoughts but if it helps anyone decide, if you are no longer able to do the things you enjoyed, or just want a change or challenge,I say give it a go, your nearest club will welcome you with open arms and if you are local to Bracknell please get in touch.
Lee – Bracknell Bowling Club