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Plymouth club wins national award for supporting disabled bowlers

The Plymouth Life Centre Indoor Bowls Club (IBC) has won a national award for supporting disabled bowlers.

The club has won the first ever Love Fisher Brown Award, set up last October to recognise and reward organisations that provide opportunities for people with disabilities to play the sport.

Chosen by a panel of judges from the Bowls Development Alliance (BDA), Disability Bowls England and sponsors AeroBowls UK, the club fought off competition from other bowls clubs, leisure organisations and care groups across the country.

Paul Humphreys, Development Manager and Disability Lead for the BDA, said: “The standard of entries proved to be exceptionally high and the activities detailed within them were both inspiring and humbling. It is extremely heartening to hear of the fantastic work that is taking place to provide opportunities for disabled people to participate in bowls.

“Ultimately, however, there has to be a winner and Plymouth Life Centre IBC was the award panel’s unanimous choice to receive the 2014/15 Love Fisher Brown Award.”

The Plymouth Life Centre is owned by Plymouth City Council and managed by sports and leisure operator, Everyone Active. Since opening in 2012 its indoor bowls club has gone from strength to strength and it runs a wide range of disability bowls activities every week. It also arranges fundraising events and has raised over £2,500 for the Plymouth Highbury Trust over the past 12 months.

Its dedicated team, which includes a number of volunteers, provides adaptive equipment, expert coaching and guidance for more than 100 people with various impairments. Also based at the centre is the country’s first Working with Disabled Bowlers tutor, Gilly Ainslie.

In its award announcement the BDA said: “At the heart of all the activities is fun and enjoyment with the regular sound of laughter heard coming from across the green and a resulting carnival atmosphere radiates from the bowls hall. For those who have the pleasure of spectating at the sessions it is evidently clear as to why there is a waiting list to join.”

Club chair Mike Sampson said: “It is fantastic news that the efforts of our many volunteer coaches have been recognised through this award. We run an array of weekly bowling opportunities for people with disabilities, including the visually impaired and those who use adapted bowls equipment. We also have a dedicated disabled bowls section within the club. We welcome new members and strive to continually promote inclusive bowls opportunities.”

Deputy Council Leader Peter Smith said: “We work with our partners to provide as many opportunities as possible for people to enjoy sport, regardless of any disabilities or impairments they may have. By providing things like disabled parking, motorised buggies and adapted equipment we are helping to ensure the fantastic facilities at the Plymouth Life Centre are accessible to everyone.

“The indoor bowls club doesn’t just organise activities – it helps people to develop physically, mentally and socially. We’re really pleased to see its important work recognised nationally with this award.”

David Greenwood, Contract Manager for Everyone Active, said: “It’s fantastic that the club has been recognised for its great work, which gives everyone an opportunity to enjoy sport.

We work very closely with the club’s volunteers to ensure they have everything they need here at the Plymouth Life Centre and they are always a pleasure to host. We look forward to continuing our work with them and encouraging more people in Plymouth to be active!