World ranked bowler to visit Harpenden bowling club ‘nobody knows is here’

Action from Harpenden Bowls Club

Action from Harpenden Bowls Club - Credit: Archant

A bowling club in Harpenden is to welcome one of the world’s best players as part of their plans to raise their profile.

Mark Royal, who is ranked 13th in the world, will be at Harpenden Indoor Bowling Club’s presentation evening this Friday.

The club, which is based in Waldegrave Park, was established in 1973 to give bowlers somewhere to bowl during the winter months and attracts bowlers from all over the district and the county.

They had their peak in the last few years of the last century but like other clubs, membership numbers have declined.

And the club which once boasted around 480 members is now looking to build on the current figure of over 300.

Club secretary John Williams said: “This idea of getting a well-known bowls personality to come and visit us on our presentation night is part of that recruitment process but it is also for people who are here for the sport are just as important as any other member.

“And it shows we do take our bowling seriously. It makes it a special event.”

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The presentation evening is just one part of that recruitment process which started in 2009 with the aim of keeping membership above the 300-mark.

The key to doing that was getting out into the community to let people know the facility exists.

“We constantly get the surprise that there is a club here,” said John. “Nobody knows we are here until they see our adverts.

“We’re not in the consciousness of the Harpenden people.

“Some people come into the car park and think it is a warehouse.”

And while the secretary admits they attract a certain demographic, he also says they are more than just a bowls club.

“The people it attracts, retired people, people of a certain age, this is the sport for them.

“It’s also a great social activity and as you get on in years, one of the things that becomes more and more precious is social contact.”

And the club is always looking to bring in new faces.

Recruitment officer Trevor Clark said: “We welcome new and experienced bowlers. New bowlers shouldn’t be afraid to come. We supply bowls; we’ve got shoes so they shouldn’t have to buy anything early on.

“We do have a good coaching structure we’ve developed over the last three or four years. We have more coaches than some. So we’ve developed the recruitment side in parallel to the business side.

“People in the club recognise we need new members and come and help.

“We’re dragging ourselves up and we have a good vision.”