Manager of Great Yarmouth Festival of Bowls bids emotional farewell to tournament after 25 years
PUBLISHED: 13:12 08 October 2018 | UPDATED: 13:16 08 October 2018
The manager of the Great Yarmouth Festival of Bowls has bid an emotional farewell after 25 years of being the face of the tournament.
Derek Webster has transformed the festival of bowls from a local competition for bowls fanatics to one of the largest of its kind in the country.
He has now decided to retire from his position allowing someone with “fresh ideas” to take on the event going forward.
Mr Webster’s affinity with the event started 72 years ago when he became the first person to sponsor the festival.
This year’s festival saw almost 1,200 competitors descend on the town for four weeks of hotly contested action across August and September.
Mr Webster was delighted with how well his final tournament went but has admitted the time is right to stand down and allow someone new to replace him.
He said: “I have enjoyed every minute of my time as manager. I’ve made some wonderful friends and I would do it all again next year if I could.
“It is at this point in the year when I am normally planning for next year so I’m at a bit of a loss really but I’m almost 85 so it’s time for somebody younger to take on the role.”
This year’s festival attracted visitors from across the country as well as well as competitors from as far as Australia and Tenerife.
“I would like to say a huge thank you to the committee, greenkeepers, my wife and all of the sponsors who have supported me personally as well as the tournament.
“They’ve all been brilliant and helped enormously,” he said.
Since Mr Webster became manager of the festival 25 years ago, the competition has become a trademark event in the town’s calendar.
His proudest achievement came in 2014 when he received the British Empire Medal (BEM) for his services to bowls and to local charities. He described it as an “unforgettable moment”.
Mayor of Great Yarmouth, Mary Coleman, has paid tribute to Mr Webster saying “his contribution will be sorely missed”.
Mrs Coleman, added: “We are very grateful for all of Derek’s hard work with the festival which is now starting to attract people from around the world. The festival has been brilliant for the town and I hope this can now be built on.”