Future looking bright as youngsters lead the way
With young bowls stars leading the way in this year's roll of honour there was plenty to cheer at the Norfolk County EBA presentation lunch.
Six of this year's Middleton Cup national team came from the U25 ranks, while junior players also figured well in the county and Eastern Counties championships. U25 pairing of Jamie Chestney and Sam King reached the quarter-finals of the senior national pairs at Worthing.
'Norfolk has always been a big force in bowls over the years and I think we are going to be an even bigger force in the future,' said Norfolk president Brian Howes.
Topping the individual lists this year was 21-year-old Wayne Willgress, who won both the county open singles and U25 singles title – and repeated the feat in the Eastern Counties competitions. He is an U25 international.
'Wayne's success was all the sweeter for me because he plays for Norfolk Bowling Club, which is also my home club,' said Howes.
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'Wayne has certainly got a big future.'
Norfolk Bowling Club also lifted the county pairs title through Charlie Boon and Philip Day, the fours title (Wayne Willgress, Chris Willgress, Charles West and David Naunton) and were runners-up in the club championship and the mixed fours championship.
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County Arts retained both the Bales Cup for winning the club championship and the Lord Fermoy Cup for the double fours championship.
Norfolk finished second in the Eastern Counties League, with Norfolk Bowling Club players winning the singles, U25 singles and fours trophies and Acle winning the triples.
In the Hansells Norfolk League, Acle St Edmunds retained the Premier Zone trophy, while former big guns Downham Market finished bottom and were relegated. They are replaced for next season by the G W Staniforth team from Thetford, who will be getting their first-ever taste of Premier Zone bowls.
There was a double title success for Bradwell A and B teams, who won East Zones divisions two and three, with the A team also finishing runners-up in the Hansells Solicitors League Cup. R G Carter won both North Zone divisions. Hunstanton B won the Hansells Cup and finished top of West Zone Division Two.
Guests at the presentation lunch included the President of Bowls England Chris Smith, who responded to a toast proposed by next year's Norfolk president-elect Derek Talbot.
The toast to Hansells Solicitors Norfolk County EBA was given by Suffolk EBA president Terry Bacon.
During the lunch at the Holiday Inn, Norwich, Howes heaped praise on sponsors Hansells.
'People don't just talk about Norfolk Bowls any more, they talk about Hansells Norfolk Bowls – the names just go together,' he said. 'Hansells have been a huge support to the county.
Hansells managing partner Roger Holden said it was a delight to be part of a sporting community where everyone was so easy to work with – and so committed to their sport.
'Hansells are looking forward to sharing in next year's 75th anniversary celebrations. It will be a very special year,' he said.