Members of an indoor bowls group set up almost 30 years ago for partially sighted people are desperate to keep it going.
The group plays weekly at St Andrews Presbyterian Church hall in Orewa. Volunteer drivers collect the bowlers and take them to the hall for morning tea and games that, members say, can get quite competitive but are mainly about fun and companionship.
One of the group’s coordinators, Shelley Good, says with just eight members (aged 70-101) remaining, the group will not be viable until they get at least four more members.
Games are played in two teams of four, so if even one person is unable to attend, the bowls can’t go ahead.
Sally agrees that it is very niche, focused on bowls, while other local groups for vision impaired people, such as the 20-strong Hibiscus Coast Visually Impaired People’s Group (VIP), do a range of activities.
She says some people are members of both groups, but the reason the indoor bowls group has lasted as long as it has, is about providing a weekly activity – the VIP group meets once a month.
Sally Gibson and Patty Tracey have both been members for around four years. Sally says the important thing is that everyone in the group has the same problem and they all understand each other.
While a couple of members are former lawn bowlers, neither Sally nor Patty had bowled before joining.
“I enjoy the bowls,” Sally says. “But it’s more about the company.”
Patty agrees, saying she was reluctant to join at first. “My husband saw it in the paper and took me along,” she says. “I’ve been a regular ever since.”
She says it was a big day for the group when they beat sighted indoor bowlers from Hibiscus Coast Retirement Village last year, in a social match.
Shelley says since numbers got so low, every week the remaining members ask whether it can continue.
“They all love it and are desperate to keep it going,” she says. “These people don’t get out a lot due to their sight issues so events like this play a big part in their lives. It’s also great for concentration and coordination,” she says.
She says members pay $5 a week, but with so few this does not cover the hall rental and morning tea costs.
She says a good source of members in the past has been referrals from the Blind Low Vision NZ Foundation.
Volunteers can collect members from their homes anywhere on the Hibiscus Coast.
To find out more, contact Shelley, 424 0599 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.