Life: bits and pieces

Travels with my Mother XX: a sporting career

This is the twentieth in my series called Travels with my Mother. If you’ve not read the first in the series, you might wish to have a look at that one as it gives the context behind these posts.

My phone conversation with Mum today began:

‘Morning, Mum. I hope you have sunshine through your window today?’ ‘
It’s a lovely day and I’m waiting for a lift to Windsor.’

‘Oh? Where are you off to?’
‘We’ve got a play-off match today. The car will be here soon to pick me up, so I can’t chat long.’

I knew then that Mum’s mind was re-visiting her many years of involvement in the sport of lawn bowls. If you know Doreen, or have read my earlier Travels With my Mother posts, you will know that lawn bowls is no longer a realistic option for her. This post is by way of tribute to that aspect of Mum’s life, post ‘retirement’ from her busy years as mother, manager of a fruit orchard and shop, contributor to her children’s schools and to her local community.

Amusingly, when a family friend first suggested Mum and Dad try lawn bowls, she was indignant.
‘I’m not joining those fuddy-duddies!’ she’d exclaimed. ‘Those awful long white skirts and thick stockings they wear.’

But try it she eventually did, and enjoyed it from the outset. She and Dad joined the Kurrajong Heights Bowling Club at first as they still lived in Bilpin, then when they made the move to Richmond they became stalwarts of the Richmond Memorial Bowling Club.

Doreen and Doug Newton on their beloved bowling green

Luckily for Mum, the uniform requirements did ease over the years, allowing ladies to wear white slacks in winter, and eventually softening into a lavender polo shirt and knee length skirt for summer.

As was always Mum’s style, she entered her new pastime with determination and gusto and began to excel, winning championships, as well as playing socially, and travelling for weekend bowls competitions around the state.

Ever the ‘organiser’, she also took on elected positions in her club and the wider Ladies Bowls organisation. She was a selector, secretary, president. She travelled by train to Sydney for training and exams to become both umpire and coach. She helped run the regular fund raising mornings to raise money for the local branch of the charity Legacy. Presidents’ Days and Veterans’ Days were conducted by a band of busy women, including my mother.

Later in her bowling career, Mum bemoaned the leaching away of the community feel of her local club. Some of the younger members, she said, regarded it as nothing more than a sport, an outlet. Less important to them were those activities of the club that were precious to the older women: community involvement and service to others.

Veterans’ Day, for example, was a long standing tradition where older bowlers, particularly those who could no longer play regularly, were honoured at a day of social games and lunch. Those who needed it were picked up and brought to the club for the day. Mum was one of those women who could often be seen driving an elderly lady to the special day. Sadly, in Mum’s view, the importance of these traditions began to fade over time.

In the 1990’s Mum was proud to be recognised at a presentation night, along with lifetime friend and fellow bowler Gwen Cooper, for her contribution to the Hawkesbury district’s sporting community. Her organisational skills and commitment brought a great deal to the bowling scene locally and across NSW.

So I heard with pleasure her plan to go bowling again this morning, and I hoped that in her mind the green stretched, smooth and inviting, before her.

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