Well, what a year! It’s probably one that none of us would like to see repeated in our lifetime. It all started so promising then March arrived and the invisible virus that had been lurking under cover suddenly turned the world upside down.
On the positive side, people looked out for their neighbours, their family and there was kindness in abundance. Those first 12 weeks when we were all afraid to go outside in case that deadly ‘beast’ attacked us from around the corner on our one exercise outing per day. We looked aghast at the empty shelves in the supermarkets and wondered why people were purchasing second freezers whilst others could find nothing to put in the one they had! Sales of hand sanitisers went through the roof. It’s ideal when you’re out and about but they still say that 20 second handwashing in hot water with soap was better protection. We sanitised our homes, our offices and the club within an inch of their lives. We gauged how far 2m was in reality – approximately the length of a cow! We stood dutifully in queues and the waiting hardly seemed to matter – there was nothing else to do anyway. We applauded the NHS and other key workers every Thursday night until fewer people came out of their homes so it stopped. It didn’t mean we didn’t care because we did then and still do as they fight the rising number of cases across the country. Ann D completely emptied her button and elastic supplies in making headbands and bags for the keyworkers linked with Teddington Hospital. Ange and Scott prepared and delivered meals once a week to those who wanted and also did the same for the Sundays in the November lockdown.
Risk Assessments were carried out and thanks to Ange and Jacquie E, outdoor bowls started mid May and carried on through to the end of September. We conquered the new rink booking system and played singles, pairs and triples and welcomed Kevin L, Stella K, Steve, Dave P and Peter T amongst the outdoor members. Terry M became the key ‘green swisher’ pre playing (it’s a very good workout!). Jane returned part-time from furlough (Furlough really helps a company out when revenue is almost non existent. It’s also incredibly difficult when you’re used to working all the time.) The bar opened up so we could enjoy socially distanced socialising with a glass or mug of something with our friends after playing. Laurence and Gordon set up friendly triples matches every weekend against other clubs. Audrey set up the Three Way Triples competition with Strawberry Hill and Teddington and her team managed to win the trophy! Following a couple of ‘friendly’ (oh yeah!) triples on Sunday morning at the start with Kevin K, Richard D, Richard H & Geraldine, Dawn organised Sunday Morning Pairs and Laurence found he had a knack with Rock Cakes for which we were treated regularly. Ange organised a Club Pairs Competition but, on offering to do the midday BBQ both weekends with Scott, found she couldn’t compete and Dawn became ‘the other woman’ partnering new member Dave P. The men played the ladies on the final Saturday, more food and drink were consumed, including Norman’s famous scones. Ann M organised a brilliant raffle for Macmillan Cancer Research, laughter and chatter was heard on and off the green and the government rules and regulations became more relaxed.
We raised a glass as we said sad farewells to Jack Bache, Carol Bottright, Malcolm Peters and Antonia Payne. Lovely friends and members who brought warmth and joy to those who knew them and left us with happy memories to share.
The Club had a thorough deep clean and a new Risk Assessment was pinned up as the clubhouse opened to indoor bowls. Following the return of indoor members, we had triples (including one friendly match v Iver Heath), morning roll ups, Sunday morning pairs and then the virus brought the shutters down leaving only singles play available as we moved into Tier 3. Then the bloomin’ virus got its hands on many more people in Greater London and the club had to completely close its doors again.
Throughout December, Dancer and Prancer followed later by Comet and Cupid went into training for the big night and were seen around the club grounds and parks causing some hilarity amongst passers by. In the meantime, Trevor was doing his best on the outdoor green and the crows and squirrels and foxes scurried away to the trees and bushes. The freezing temperatures this week have made the worms dig deeper – which is a good thing! Breda kept the leaves from the paths so any members passing through on their walks wouldn’t be in danger of slipping.
Norman took orders for the Club Centenary polo shirts and fleeces (and is still taking orders!).
Nadine, Corale, Margaret B, Beryl, Sarah H, Lucy H, Gerry and Dawn and others met one person outside in the cold and caught up with friendship and memories whilst others shared stories and anecdotes by phone, email and WhatsApp. Mike & Tina chose the time for seriously de-cluttering and packing for their move to Shepperton in the new year – no bowls to distract them from the job in hand!
Many of the long-serving Board members decided it was time to stand down. Brenda Southey was probably the longest serving with 12 years under her belt! Along with Sheila Mason, Ann Breeze, Val Farnden and Laurence Gatfield, they have all given hours and hours and hours for the Club – quietly in the background. We thank them for such dedication to the club. All of them would like to be involved with the Centenary celebrations so we’re holding them to that.
Ange, Gordon, Norman and Dawn were co-opted onto the Board and Ray P continues to stand. Tracy G stood down after many years paying all the various bills on behalf of the club and Vivien Cottey took over those reins. There will be an AGM as soon as is possible when formal thanks will be given and new appointments made.
Gordon and Jane have done a brilliant job in sorting out the cool store which had become a dumping ground/storage. In addition they have been sorting out various maintenance issues and they have both been getting on top of the new EPOS system which Laurence put into place with the successful launch of membership cards and green fee vouchers which had a few teething problems to start. None of us like change so well done to everyone for working with us on that as you came on board to the almost totally cashless system. The Club has had its electrics all tested and approved this week so all is tickety boo on that front.
Gerry led the way for Cambridge Park in receiving the first dose of Covid vaccine and hopefully many others will now follow quickly as the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is released. (I checked and have 11 million people in front of me in the queue!)
2020 – a year we’ve laughed, cried, screamed in frustration, sunk down in a black hole of despair but phoned a friend and climbed up the ladder out of the hole. We’ve been lucky. We have lost very few members and friends. The Club has been open outdoors for play and spectators (thanks to a personalised response from the government to Ange’s request) and opened indoors when many clubs will not open again this season. It maybe a cliche that we should ‘count our blessings’ but we should and be thankful. It is up to each and everyone of us to do our bit in keeping everyone and ourselves safe. Supporting the club over this year by being there or by the emails and calls we have received has been brilliant. We are a proper club because of each and everyone of you – our members.
Happy New Year everyone! Wrap up warm.
Enjoy the clip below sent by my boss to all of our team courtesy of Prayan Animantion Studios.