HISTORY of the EAGLES BOWLS GROUP CELEBRATING 20 years!
Peter Beales and Ian Baker lived in a Mencap Home for people with learning disabilities. In 1997, Mary Muir joined the staff team and encouraged Peter and Ian to try bowls. After a few sessions at Nottingham with a physically disabled group, it was decided to try to find a club in Northampton that would welcome us. At the second club, Peter met with Eric York and had a very relaxed chat about our needs. Erick took our request to the committee who welcomed Peter and Ian to the club each Tuesday with Mary Muir and a second carer. Each week we turned up and enjoyed learning the game and playing competitively against each other.
In 1999 we had a crisis. We had tried to find out if other groups in Northampton would play with and against us but this did not succeed. Peter had the brilliant idea that we should form our own group. Mencap was offering ‘Millenium Awards’ to groups requiring support and guidance with projects so Peter and Ian applied and gained a 6-month award to help set up their bowls group. They were supported to meetings in Nottingham and also in their own home. Peter, Ian and Mary discussed their plans with Eric York and he agreed to present them to the committee. It was agreed that a bowls group would be welcome as long as there would be support and encouragement to learn the skills and etiquette of the game. Contacts were made with the other groups of people with learning disabilities and eventually a small group was formed in 2000.
Kingsthorpe Bowling Club had several members agree to volunteer to assist with coaching and support of the group. This was an amazing commitment and it fully integrated this new group into the Bowls Club. Our club nights involved the bowls session and a social time where everyone was supported to buy the drink of their choice from the bar and then a time of sharing something about themselves, their family, and their weekly activities or plans. This was to encourage communication, friendship links and social interaction.
At the first club meeting, it was agreed that a special name was required to identify our group. Everyone was asked to think of a name. There were many weird and wonderful names put forward. Peter was the last to suggest a name. He apologised to everyone but said we have to be called the “Eagles”. When asked the reason for this name Peter looked around the group and said “because we’re free”. It was immediately agreed and the Eagles became the group name.
The Eagles bowling group have had many different people over the years join us for varying periods. All appear to have benefited from the experience and exercise. All of them were welcomed by the main club bowlers with even National Champions greeting the Eagles bowlers with friendship and respect. Over the years we’ve had a solid group of volunteers who have embraced learning to play bowls and support each of the individual Eagles.
This has enabled the Eagles to continue for 20 years!
The superb support from the then Saturday Captain, Roger Caswell and his team who named us as their charity for the year 2017 enabled the Eagles to continue attendance, as they each pay extortionate prices for taxis each week. The Eagles are also enormously proud and grateful for the T-shirts with the Eagles logo, that were presented to us for each member.
Kingsthorpe Bowls Club should be extremely proud of the opportunity they willingly extended to a group of people who face extreme challenges.