Posted: Wed 2nd Jun 2021

Aston Park Bowling Club is opening its doors to people who want to try the sport for the first time

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Jun 2nd, 2021

A Deeside bowls club has seen an influx of new members following the easing of COVID-19 lockdown measures. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Aston Park Bowls Club is opening its doors to people who want to try a new sport, have some fun and meet new people. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

This year the club will celebrate its 27th anniversary, it is now looking for new players to join up and keep the club thriving. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit communities across Wales hard and as a result, sport in the community has never been more important. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Bowling’s national governing body development has developed a national campaign aimed at helping clubs attract more interest during the pandemic and in the aftermath. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

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The month-long campaign is taking place between the 14th June-14th July. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Aston Park Bowls Club will be holding a number of open days to showcase the club to the community and to promote new and exciting opportunities to help attract new members. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The Deeside club is renowned for having one of the best greens in North Wales but it took four years from the initial idea to turn wasteland next to Aston Park Community Centre into brand new green. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

In 1994, the idea to set up a new local bowling club was started by Fred Pickford who at the time bowled for Connahs Quay Bowling Club. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

He organised an open meeting for Aston Park residents with 28 attending, a founding club committee was formed and it was agreed to approach the District Council with a view to acquiring the piece of land behind the community centre. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Over the next two years, the committee worked hard trying to set up the new bowling club but their request to turn land to the north of Aston Park Community Centre was refused as it was earmarked for housing development which is now the site of bungalows opposite Deeside Community Hospital. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Permission was given to site the bowling club on Aston Park Ranger’s FC’s underused playing field on the western side of the community centre. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Work underway laying the turf, circa 1996

The committee applied for grants to finance the first phase of the project, the cost of groundworks and laying the new green and car park with no other facilities which was estimated to cost £65,000. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

They were granted £32,000 by the National Lottery’s SportLot in December 1995, £20,000 by the then Alyn and Deeside District Council and £4,000 by Hawarden Community Council. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The remaining money was raised by the hard work of the club’s committee through socials, car boot sales, weekly, coffee mornings and other money-spinning events. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The committee generated interest from locals and membership of the club soared to around 150 even before the turf was laid. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Nearly two years after the initial committee meeting, work on the green began, by May 1996 it was fully laid but it then required a further year to ‘rest’ before anybody could play on it. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The green was officially opened Good Friday 1997 by the Welsh Crown Green Secretary at the time, Sychdyn Bowler Mel Higham, and Aston Bowling Club Chairman, and later President, Fred Pickford. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The opening ceremony was followed by a match between the 3-year running British Champion, Welsh U18s Juniors Squad, their manager at the time Don James and the mostly novice Aston Bowling Club members. The match was officiated by Sid Sterry of Sealand. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Mel Higham Welsh Crown Green Bowling Association Secretary (L), Fred Pickford, Founding Chairman and later President of Aston Bowling Club (R) Opening the green Good Friday 15th April 1997

The work didn’t stop there for the club’s founding committee, their next target was to raise funds for phase two of the project which was to build a new clubhouse and toilet facilities for the green which would allow them to enter teams into local bowling leagues. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

On 15th April 1998, Aston Bowling Club played its first match and first match at home, against Oakenholt in the Sixth Division of the Flintshire Midweek League. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

In typical bowling weather, snow was swept away by the eager members who had been waiting over three and a half years for this moment. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

In order for the club to play in the league, they had to have toilet and clubhouse facilities which by this time were still nonexistent. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Instead for the inaugural season, a Gazebo was put up for captains to exchange team lists and toilet facilities were provided across the road in founding members Jacqui and John Mort’s Aston Park Food Stores. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Work on the Clubhouse 1998.

Work was completed on the clubhouse by the end of the season in late summer and was officially opened on the 22nd August 1998. Grants were provided by the Prince’s Trust to plant trees and shrubs to improve the look of the green. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

A conservatory has been added to the front of the clubhouse, enclosing the veranda to provide warm shelter in those harsh bowling conditions. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Over the years membership has steadily grown, today the club has nine teams playing in four leagues. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Aston Park teams have climbed their respective divisions and won a number of league knock-out cups, and divisional titles along the way. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Membership has ranged from under 10s to over 90s, men and women from Aston Park, Deeside, The Wirral and further afield, one new member to the club comes from Ayrshire, Scotland. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The club members have been particularly talented with a number being selected to represent their area in Welsh veteran’s inter-county matches and also represent Wales in the British Crown Green County Championships in the U18s Welsh Junior and Welsh Veterans squads over the years. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Everything has changed since the pandemic hit. Initially, the club wasn’t permitted to play at all. However last year despite the restrictions, they still managed to run an extremely successful internal league which consisted of 8 teams competing against each other. It was such a hit considering many other clubs didn’t open at all. Thye had members of 25 years playing with brand new members and members who joined the club from other local clubs to get a game. All in a COVID secure setting. Pictured: Club Competition winners and runners up, Summer 2020

The green has been selected by the Welsh Crown Green Bowling Association on numerous occasions to host the home leg of their matches in British County Championships for the Juniors, Ladies and Mens squads. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

In addition, it has been chosen to host the Welsh Veterans Merit Finals where the best bowlers from across North Wales compete for the title. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Mike Brackenbury, Club Chairman said: “Little did I think when I was a founder member of Aston Bowling Club all those years ago that it would have turned out to be such a success and a big part of the Community.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“It is totally due to the commitment and hard work of members that we continue to flourish.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“I am very proud to be Chairman for all these years and we are all looking forward to getting back to ‘normal’ and returning to a full bowling year.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Justine who recently joined club having never bowled previously said: “Everyone is encouraged to enjoy participating regardless of ability, there is even coaching opportunities available to new members with the more experienced bowlers. It is a very friendly, welcoming club with a great group of members.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

To find out more about Aston Park Bowling visit their Facebook Page here: https://www.facebook.com/AstonBowlingClub or call Callum on 07889632223 ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

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