Bowls festival organisers hit jackpot

Organisers of the Great Yarmouth Bowls Festival are celebrating after securing a new sponsor for their 'blue ribband' event - the men's open singles.There was a real prospect of a sizeable shortfall for 2008 when long term major backers Aylsham Bathroom and Kitchen Centres decided not to continue their sponsorship.

Organisers of the Great Yarmouth Bowls Festival are celebrating after securing a new sponsor for their 'blue ribband' event - the men's open singles.

There was a real prospect of a sizeable shortfall for 2008 when long term major backers Aylsham Bathroom and Kitchen Centres decided not to continue their sponsorship.

The company had helped to make the men's singles one of the lucrative open events in the country with a prize fund of £3,000. But fears that it might have to be downsized have been swiftly laid to rest thanks to the town's Palace Casino and Bingo, who this year sponsored the men's pairs but have now expanded their backing to the men's singles as well.

"In the 12 years in which they had been associated with the Festival Aylsham Kitchens and Bathrooms had given around £30,000, which is a fantastic sum to put into local bowls," said organiser Derek Webster. "First and foremost I would like to thank them because without them we wouldn't have the tournament we have now. For Palace managing director Patrick Duffy to step in and take that sponsorship on is just fantastic. I'm over the moon because it's a big spend, especially when it comes on top of their existing sponsorship. It will help ensure we keep the Festival as the best of it's kind in the country."

The £1,500 first prize for what is now the Palace Casino men's singles - "not bad for two days doing what you like doing" says Webster - has ensured high quality as well as numbers. Won this year by Wisbech's Bob Dawe, it has England stars Mervyn King and Mark Royal among its recent winners.

The 63rd Great Yarmouth Bowls Festival will run from August 24 to September 19. It involves 12 different competitions. For entry forms and further details contact Yarmouth Council on (01473 603976) or Derek Webster himself on 01493 603976.