Bowler suffers strokes before championsh

Catastrophe has struck the international dream trip of two north Norfolk bowlers after one suffered a double stroke soon after their arrival in Australia.

Catastrophe has struck the international dream trip of two north Norfolk bowlers after one suffered a double stroke soon after their arrival in Australia.

National champion Margaret Hannant collapsed as she and blind bowler Scott Vallance were about to attend the opening ceremony of the World Disabled Championships at Manley, near Sydney.

Miss Hannant, who is aged in her early 70s, was there to act as sighted helper to Mr Vallance, who is representing England in the contest.

She is said to have suffered a further stroke in the ambulance en route to hospital and spent nearly five days in intensive care.

On Tuesday, she was back on the ward, paralysed down her left side, and is not expected to be well enough to return to England until next year.

News of the disaster has stunned family and friends

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of the pair in north

Norfolk where a widely-supported Living the Dream campaign raised £7,000 to cover the costs of their trip.

Miss Hannant, from North Walsham, is captain of the town's ladies' A team, a grade-two national coach, plays for Norfolk and has won multiple national championships in her bowling career.

Last year, she and North Walsham-based Jayne Roylance won the national senior ladies' bowls title.

Women from the North Walsham club, based at Rossi's leisure centre, have sent flowers and a card filled with good wishes to Australia.

Mr Vallance's wife Sue said his parents, who had made the trip to Australia to support their son, were at her bedside daily and Scott was visiting her every other day.

"It was a terrible shock," said Mrs Vallance, speaking from the couple's home in Stalham.

"The men were congregating for the coach outside the hotel, waiting to go to the opening ceremony, and one of the ladies came rushing out and said Margaret had collapsed."

Miss Hannant later said that she had been locking her bedroom door ready to come down when she felt sick and was overcome. She has since started having physiotherapy in hosptial.

Friends are now concerned about who will visit Miss Hannant when Mr Vallance and his parents return to England a few days after the contest, due to end on Saturday.

Derek Nickerson, Mr Vallance's bowls coach at Rossi's and a trustee of his fundraising campaign, said Miss Hannant's two brothers were too elderly to make the trip.

"I shan't feel comfortable until Margaret's safely back in North Walsham," said Mr Nickerson.

"She is a highly-respected bowler who is renowned all over the country."

Miss Hannant had been keen for Mr Vallance to carry on with the contest and he had been accepting sighted help wherever it was offered, according to his wife. But he was constantly worried about his friend's health.

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