LETTER: Club’s support for community

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I am a member of the Horsham District Indoor Bowls Club. The map, published in the County Times, illustrating Horsham District Council’s proposed new leisure centre appears to require the demolition of the building leased to the bowls club. I would like to make your readers, and especially the Horsham district councillors more aware of the very good leisure club that is already established there.

There are about 450 members and includes residents from Mannings Heath, Cranleigh, Ewhurst, Billingshurst, Barns Green. Henfield, Capel, Southwater, Broadbridge Heath, Horsham and others.

We are hosts to more than 1,500 visiting bowlers each year, who come from as far afield as Eastbourne, Worthing, Brighton, Woolwich, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Maidstone, Sittingbourne, Gravesend and many more.

Our facilities are considered very good. There is an eight rink bowling green, a very pleasant restaurant, which can cater for over 70 diners, and and a comfortable bar area.

Bowls is a competitive sport but equally important it is a social sport. Visitors expect to be able to have refreshments when they arrive for matches and to share a meal with the host club after the game.

Members also like to enjoy dining with friends in the restaurant following inter club matches. or to relax and chat with a drink. The restaurant is booked by outdoor bowls clubs for annual dinner and dances. The restaurant has a good dance floor. A number of other local groups such as Probus and the partial sighted also use the green and restaurant. The food is good but inexpensive, and represents very good value. The restaurant area is also used for weekly bridge evenings, club meetings, social events or seasonal activities such as carol services, Christmas and birthday parties.

Bowls is seen as an activity enjoyed by older people and the majority of our members became bowlers after they retired, but we have a very committed group of members who have established youth bowls at HDIBC. They have given many hours of their time teaching children.

The club now has a well established youth group recognised by Sussex County Bowls. They have welcomed Cubs and Scout groups, and very recently have been welcomed into schools to introduce bowls to younger people.

We have a group of very skilled bowlers,young men who enjoy the game at a high level, they bring county and national competition to the club.

Sussex CIBA play county matches at Horsham. Sussex has used Horsham’s facilities to teach county umpires, English Bowls Youth Development Scheme South of England held their finals at HIBC.

The club has paid £50,000 per annum to HDC to use the premises and have paid all the running and maintenance costs. Membership fees have been kept as low as possible.

The many positions required to run the club from executive and financial responsibilities to staffing the bar, or organising the use of the green, the matches, etc are all undertaken voluntarily.

I and many members have suffered bereavement and serious health difficulties. We receive wonderful support from the many friends we have in the club. This is probably the most valuable contribution a club can make in the community.

I feel very privileged to have had my retirement years enriched by being a member of a bowls club.

I am appalled to think that this facility could be demolished and not replaced.

MILLIE WEBB

Lemmington Way, Horsham