I HAVE been a member of Iford Bridge Bowling Club since 1997 after moving to Bournemouth in 1996.

Christchurch had three bowling clubs then – Christchurch, Iford Bridge and Highcliffe.

Some few years ago, I believe 2013, Christchurch Bowling Club was forced to close by a combination of the rundown state of the green, declining membership and lack of parking. Christchurch council was unable to support continued maintenance of the green and it and the clubhouse were used increasingly as a wedding venue by the King's Arms opposite, because of its idyllic situation.

A number of the members of Christchurch Bowling Club moved to the two other Christchurch based clubs i.e. Iford Bridge or Highcliffe or clubs in Bournemouth or ceased bowling.

However, with the passage of time, though Highcliffe Bowling Club continues to thrive, Iford Bridge is faced with a similar declining membership problem to Christchurch back in 2013.

The bowling strength, men and women, has fallen to a level where this season Iford has had to withdraw teams from the Bournemouth & District and New Forest Bowling Leagues.

We have distributed leaflets in Christchurch on Market Day, displayed posters outside the club in Barrack Road and held open days to encourage new members.

Unless new members can be recruited for the 2020 season, there is a grave danger that Iford will go into steep decline. It was founded in 1975 but the future is quite grim.

We have one founder member still bowling, Alan Doughty, who is well recognised throughout the bowling fraternity and who fears for the future of Iford Bridge.

Christchurch is an area well recognised for retirement. Bowls generally is looked upon as a sport normally played by more "mature" people, though many young people enjoy the sport. It can also be played by men and women separately or together. It may therefore almost be looked upon as part of the retirement package when newcomers settle in the area or local residents retire and seek some activity which they can enjoy together.

Full tuition is available for newcomers to the sport with very patient coaches.

The outdoor season runs from late April until early September.

Iford Bridge will be delighted to hear from any people who are interested in becoming established in time for the 2020 season.

Iford is a very sociable club and welcomes any interested people.

It doesn't matter if they have never thrived at any sport previously, though anybody with hand-eye co-ordination will quickly take to bowls.

How much longer can bowls thrive in Christchurch, particularly if two clubs drop to one?


Eastcott Close, Bournemouth