Chelsea Pensioners join Gosport bowls club to celebrate 50th anniversary

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A BOWLS club that has been an outlet for hundreds of people has celebrated its 50th anniversary in style.

Bridgemary Bowls Club held its 50th anniversary celebrations on Wednesday, May 16 – with a commemorative match against the Chelsea Pensioners, who travelled down for the afternoon.

Bridgemary Bowls Club with the Chelsea Pensioners. Picture: David George

Bridgemary Bowls Club with the Chelsea Pensioners. Picture: David George

Players say that the club, in Cunningham Drive, has been a great way to keep fit and make friends with others in the community.

Stan Atthis, 78, has been at the club for 14 years.

He said: ‘I first joined the bowling club because I wanted the exercise; despite getting older I was keen to keep fit.

‘It’s a lovely community here – good fun with good company.

‘It makes you feel better about yourself and so I’m glad we’re able to celebrate such a milestone.’

Club president Audrey Sitch said: ‘It’s such an amazing privilege to be celebrating the 50th anniversary of this club.

‘Bowls is such a wonderful game for your health, it’s good for the mind and you’re meeting people and having a laugh.

‘I wish more people would think about joining a club.’

After greeting the Chelsea Pensioners – and sharing stories over tea and biscuits – the groups split across the rinks of the green for an afternoon of games.

Ladies team captain Lesley Howell said: ‘This is a wonderful achievement for the club.

‘This is a very social sport for people who might otherwise be on their own – even if you’re a couple, being part of a club can be a big help if you fall on hard times.

‘To celebrate our 50th anniversary with the Chelsea Pensioners is very special indeed.’

The Chelsea Pensioners themselves spend many of their days going to bowling clubs across the country.

But 85-year-old Ron Wilkins says that the reception at Bridgemary Bowling Club was a ‘real warm welcome’.

He said: ‘It’s always nice to come to a place like this, and we were given a wonderful reception.

‘To have us at these events seems to have become a tradition, but it’s something we absolutely love doing.

‘Bowling is about comradeship – we all play together but aren’t really interested in winning. It’s the friendly atmosphere, the company and the beer.

‘Spending the afternoon here at Bridgemary has been great fun – it’s a lovely club.’

Bridgemary Bowls Club will also be holding an open day on Saturday, May 25 from midday to 4pm.