EDITH Wadley talks to Angela Kelly about her love for all sports but it is in bowling where she has had her crowning moments.
EDITH Wadley probably wouldn’t even have got involved in the world of crown green bowling if it hadn’t been for her 12 year-old neighbour.
The young lad, who often popped in to see Edith and her husband Ronald at their Kearsley home with his brother, asked her one day if she “fancied crown green bowling because there’s a club just up the road.”
Edith had failed to notice that Kearsley Park Bowling Club was operating almost within sight of her home. “So I thought I’d better go along,” she recalls.
That piece of helpful junior advice in 1994 set Edith on a path that has made her hugely influential in spreading the enjoyment of this quintessential Lancastrian pass-time.
At 83, she is not only currently president and chairman of the Kearsley Park club but actively signposts interested local people to various other bowling clubs across Bolton.
Edith was born in Salford and brought up in Swinton where at Moorside School she played rounders and netball. It was wartime, however, and life was punctuated less with sporting achievements than with dashing off to the air-raid shelter.
Edith remembers her schooldays, however, as “happy times. Her first job was in an office and she followed this up with other office admin jobs, working in the end for a company which eventually made her a representative.
There she also met her future husband and they set up home in Kearsley. She and Ronald joined Swinton Park Golf Club and she remained an active and committed member there for 40 years.
Edith also became involved in organising at the club, as lady captain, captain of captains and president of the North-west Manchester Golf Association. “Yes, I did enjoy all those years playing,” she states.
She retired from golf, however, and the couple ran a busy newsagents in Manchester Road in Kearsley for 13 years.
When they finished there in 1985, Edith used both her admin skills and a desire to work in the community on various independent panels.
But it was the chance remark from her young neighbour – who followed it up by discovering more details about the club and reporting back to Edith – that set her on the bowling path.
Although Ronald was still playing golf, Edith immediately took to bowls and started enjoying her sociable sessions on the two greens.
“Like many sports, it’s about hand-eye co-ordination,” explains Edith. “But bowling is also a very good game for meeting people, it’s full of camaraderie.”
The Kearsley Park Club was founded in 1926. It’s always been a busy place in its timeless way, and never more so than now as it boasts more than 70 members aged from early 50s to 95.
“Members have to be 60 to play in the veterans’ league,” says Edith, “but we do find that more people are coming to us now in their 50s, and so by the time they’re 60 they’re very proficient.”
All that’s needed is strong footwear, the bowls – “new bowls cost around £80 but you can pick up a decent second-hand set for £25” – a £12 bowling card from Bolton Council and a willingness to learn and enjoy. Edith took her Level I coaching and is now a Level II coach.
She’s also become a kind of “bowling ambassador”. Over the years, she’s managed to encourage youngsters at George Tomlinson School now Kearsley Academy to play, and helped many new retirees to try their hand at the gentle but competitive sport that involves getting your bowls as near as possible to a small ball called the jack.
“It’s a lovely way to spend your time-out in the fresh air, getting some exercise and meeting friends,” said Edith.
“I think it’s just great!”
- To find out more about crown green bowling call Edith Wadley on 01204 574405.