Bowled out: Club closes
Hersham: Dwindling numbers blamed for closure
HERSHAM Village Bowls Club is closing after almost a century of serving the community. Members of the Molesey Road club are not pinpointing any particular reason for the closure, putting it down to ‘lots of little things’. Bob Garnish, from Hersham, is married to treasurer Liz Garnish and has played at the club ‘for around 10 to 12 years’. “We’ve had some super times and made some great friends,” said the 71-yearold. “It’s an ideal way to play a fantastic sport and meet people – it’s a super game.” Membership has dropped from the ‘ideal number of 60’ and Mr Garnish has a theory to account for the trend. He said: “The houses are so expensive around here. People get to 65 and their sons and daughters have moved out of the area.
“So they look at each other and ask, ‘do you know how much our house is worth?’ “And then they move away to be near their children.” Rival Hersham Bowls Club is situated in the same road, although Mr Garnish pointed out ‘ we used to have the demand and it worked well’.
“I’ll miss it over the winter as the club is a lovely place to have a meeting or a reunion,” said Mr Garnish.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it and have lots of little plastic cups to show for my efforts. It’s great fun and a wonderful social event.” Mr Garnish will miss his typical Sunday of ‘church in the morning and bowls in the afternoon’, he added. David Wheeler, until recently club vice captain, said that, in some ways, nature took its course. “We had a lot of members die and the numbers went down and it proved hard to get new people to come along and play,” said the 79-year-old from Caterham. “Unfortunately we just cannot keep going, it’s such a shame for the club.” Hersham South councillor John Sheldon got involved ‘a year or so ago’ as the club was getting into difficulties. “They had declining membership, a feature for many clubs in the area anxious for members and keen to see new people,” said Cllr Sheldon. “The council provided grants and incentives but unfortunately it hasn’t worked.” According to Mr Sheldon, a reason for the closure could be increasing over- heads allied to the decrease in income. “Councils handed responsibility to bowls clubs for the maintenance of their greens or rinks,” he said. “And with declining membership, they were forced to put up their annual fees but this hasn’t worked.
“It’s a sad conclusion that this club has to close.”
Hersham Village Bowls Club played its
last matches at the weekend.