Pointing out arthritis’ pain
Cricket fans everywhere will recognise umpire Billy Bowden’s “crooked finger of doom”.
It’s a gesture he came up with when arthritis made it too painful to raise a straight finger to show a player was out.
Now he’s using his sporting profile to support the Arthritis Orange Appeal.
Mr Bowden started his career as a spin bowler but changed to umpiring after being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 21.
He spent Tuesday morning at the Three Kings Plaza Pharmacy, signing autographs and talking to customers about arthritis and his medication.
“I’ve been an ambassador since 2005.
“It was a bit of an honour and a privilege to be asked,” he says.
When he first got the disease, he was reluctant to tell people about it but later decided it was important to raise awareness.
“It’s the most prevalent disease in New Zealand and it doesn’t have a high profile but it deserves one.”
Despite arthritis being a “life sentence of pain”, he says it hasn’t stopped him travelling around the world and being involved in cricket, which he loves.
He wants to encourage and motivate others living with the disease and raise awareness of what they go through.
“There’s no cure. There are people who can’t even go to the letterbox, make a cup of tea or hold a mug.
“There are more than 25,000 people who can’t work due to the pain of arthritis,” he says.
It’s not just the person themselves affected but their partners, families and friends, says Mr Bowden.
He will umpire his 50th test match in India on November 6.
Arthritis New Zealand chief executive Sandra Kirby says the appeal raises funds to support the organisation’s work in communities.
“Donations to the appeal help fund clinics and services for people living with arthritis and their families to enable a better quality of life.”
Today is the final day of the appeal and orange flowers and goods are on sale.
People can also donate online at www.arthritis.org.nz.
Famous finger: Cricket umpire Billy Bowden is the face of the Arthritis Orange Appeal.