Oh what a splendid sight, what a memory to behold, as the members of Devizes Bowls Club, in full club colours, formed a guard of honour the full length of the car park as they applauded our visitors from London, the Chelsea Pensioners, as they disembarked from their coach in full regalia.
The day to remember for all that is good about bowls clubs and their community spirit was Wednesday 21st June 2017 when the pensioners arrived to play a special match against the club to help celebrate the centenary. Off the coach and straight onto the green for a photo call on what was recorded as the hottest June day since the 1970’s. I estimate they could hear the sigh of relief all the way back to the hospital in London as after the photographs the soldiers were allowed to unleash themselves from the heavy blazing red wool uniform and into a more relaxed form of military dress complete with belts of all colours and regiments.
Welcome drinks and buffet were then consumed by all before the game commenced and because of the excess heat this was reduced to just 12 ends with some rinks returning to the shelter of the clubroom after just 10.
After a reasonable break dinner was served, drinks consumed to revitalise weary bodies and then the day was completed in the usual traditional way of speeches and presentations. There was a special presentation to Colonel Mark Baker who was attending his last game in charge of the regimental bowls team and retiring from the services to return from whence he came many years ago, Rowde!!
Below is a copy of the article published on the Gazette and Herald web site under the general news section, not the usual bowls sports section.
“DEVIZES Bowls Club played a special match against a team of Chelsea Pensioners last month as the club continues to celebrate its 100th year of playing.
The team from the Royal Hospital Chelsea visited on a scorching Saturday in June and played 12 ends against the Devizes players, before the match ended in an honourable draw on account of the hot weather. The game was one of a string of special matches the club is playing as it celebrates its centenary this year.
Bowls Committee treasurer Ray Ward said, “The special games have been going very well – everyone is enjoying them and I think they’re a good way to celebrate the club’s 100th year.
“We were fortunate that the president of the Chelsea Pensioners’ bowls club, Colonel Mark Baker, is from the Devizes area so helped us arrange the game. Mark thanked the club for the day and said it was a fitting way to finish his presidency before he retires to live in Rowde.
“This was a wonderful day and one befitting the centenary celebrations. The only sad note was that most of the arrangements for this event were made by Sue Ochyra, who was not there to see it happen.
“Thanks to our sponsor, MM Carpets and Flooring Supplies.”
Devizes Bowls Club’s next celebratory match will be on Thursday 13th July at 2pm against the Barbarians. League matches continue as normal.”