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Barnet's blind bowlers put on a show at exhibition match against Chelsea Pensioners in Mill Hill
Barnet’s Blind and Partially Sighted Bowling Club welcomed a team of Chelsea Pensioners for the fixture at Mill Hill Bowling Club
Blind and partially sighted bowlers showcased their talents in Mill Hill on Friday at an exhibition match attended by the Mayor of Barnet.
Barnet’s Blind and Partially Sighted Bowling Club welcomed a team of Chelsea Pensioners for the fixture at Mill Hill Bowling Club, in Wise Lane.
Members of both teams used the special occasion to belatedly mark the 100th birthday of Barnet player Jim Booth, who reached his century year in January.
Barnet Mayor Brian Schama threw the first jack to start proceedings on a sunny afternoon at the Mill Hill Park club.
Centenarian Mr Booth, of Mead Way Close, said the specialist bowls club, which regularly plays at Mill Hill and other venues in north London, has been a lifeline since he lost his sight in 2003.
He said: “It was life changing. I had to give up my car and it had a huge impact. People at the club are so kind and the help they give is fantastic.”
Mr Booth, who has been bowling since the 1960s, is one of several blind and partially sighted players who are picked up by volunteer drivers from the club every week.
Players read the green using a piece of string that points them in the direction of the jack. A sighted guide then describes to them where their wood has been thrown in relation to the marker.
Club secretary Wynne Hughesman has been a volunteer since 1998 when she was asked to lend a hand, despite knowing nothing about the game.
She said: “This is a big occasion for the club today. It is very rewarding to see people with disabilities just forget about it and play a game they love. It gets them out of their houses twice a week and it is a very social activity.”
Barnet Mayor Brian Schama mingled with players from both teams and admitted he was somewhat relieved when his first throw to start the game did not go awry.
He said: “Unless everyone was just being polite, I think it went ok. It is a wonderful setting here and a fantastic occasion. This sort of thing gives people a new lease of life.”
Numbers at the Barnet Blind and Partially Sighted bowling club have dwindled in recent years and Mrs Hughesman is hoping to attract some more members.
Anyone interested can contact Mrs Hughesman on 01582766328 or team captain John Evans on 02089587362.
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