Club bowled over by Together Housing grant

Help: Steve Close, chief executive of Together Housing, John Palmer (bowling club) and Dave Procter, chair of Together Housing board.
Help: Steve Close, chief executive of Together Housing, John Palmer (bowling club) and Dave Procter, chair of Together Housing board.

The Pennine Bowling Club for the Visually Impaired has received a grant from the Together Housing Group to enable its members to continue the sport.

Together Housing tenant John Palmer, who is club secretary, said it was a lifeline when he joined 14 years ago after losing his sight to Retinitis Pigmentosa, a genetic disorder of the eyes that gradually causes loss of vision.

John, 74, lives in Ovenden with his wife Fran, 64, one of nine volunteers at the club. He said: “I started crown green bowling aged 40 when I still had my vision but when my sight deteriorated, I struggled to keep it up. By the time I was 60 I was registered severely sight impaired so I had to swap to flat green bowling.

“While in crown bowling you decipher the positions of the bowls by imaging the numbers around a clock face, flat green is played in lanes so is easier for those of us with visual impairments because we use string to indicate the centre of the lane.”

The club was founded in 1988 by John Newcombe, who was honoured with an MBE in 2002 for his services to the sport, and his wife Christine. The club currently has 22 members.

Although Calderdale Council subsidises the rent and maintenance of the bowling green, the club has found it increasingly difficult to raise the funds to cover the remainder of the hire fee and bowling green upkeep.

Chair of the Together Housing Group Board, Dave Procter, said: “Our Harnessing Diversity Fund is all about supporting projects or events that celebrate or promote diversity.

“Not only does Pennine Bowling Club offer people with no sight or limited sight the opportunity to participate in a sport at a competitive level but it also welcomes men and women of any age and ability, making it truly inclusive.”