Rolling out the blue carpet for the world’s best bowlers
- Credit: Nick Butcher
World championships bowls to Potters Resort at Hopton returns this Friday. Photographer NICK BUTCHER has captured some of the preparations for this much-loved event. Words: TREVOR HEATON.
So you think you're good at multi-tasking? You'll have a long way to go to catch up with Richard Maddison. The CEO of World Bowls Tour is the tournament director for the Just 2017 World Indoor Bowls Championships, which returns to Potters Resort at Hopton tomorrow.
'Whichever way you look at it, it all lands on my desk!' he laughs, in our brief chat during his busy, busy days leading up to the start of the championships, which have been held at Potters since 1999.
Getting everything organised for the event, the biggest on the bowls calendar, runs almost the year round. 'Planning starts in April in the world championships because we start running qualifying tournaments straight away,' he said. 'But from the resort's angle the planning starts virtually immediately after the tournament finishes.'
Planning for the 'build' proper - the seating, the rink, the studios, the sets etc - begins in September.
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'For television we need to find out what is being filmed live, what is Red Button, what is brand new. This year the evening schedules will be on the BBC iPlayer, so we must plan extra personnel, staffing and accommodation.
'The seating comes from Coventry in two trucks. It takes ten people two and a half days to put it up.' Their efforts will be worth it. Over the 14 days of the tournament, which runs from tomorrow to January 29, those 1,500 seats will be used for 72 separate sessions as bowls fans flock to Hopton to see the world's best players in action.
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'The portable rink arrives on a 44-foot articulated lorry and takes 12 people a day to put together,' Mr Maddison continued. 'It's a mammoth job.' The rink is then laser-levelled and covered with marine-grade MDF which is sanded and put together with 7,000 screws.
'Then comes the overlay and the famous blue carpet. That's stitched together on site. That takes a whole day.'
Then the TV set back and side walls arrive on yet another huge lorry. These take four people two days to put up. Plus there's the lighting desk, the sound desk, the cameras, the cabling... And when the BBC broadcasts live that means that two massive studios are put up in the car park, with 40 people keeping them running smoothly.
We don't know who the winners will be, but we do know that Norfolk - and Potters - will do the sport proud. As Mr Maddison explained: 'The world championships is a massive, massive achievement. When Brian Potter first had the idea we were based at Preston and my predecessor said 'Norfolk? Where's that?'
'But now when I help run events round the world if you mention Potters they know straight away. There is nothing like Potters.
'When I came here for the first time and walked in I was blown away. And it just keeps getting better and better and better.'