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The Green on the Hill

Chapter Six
 

Distinguished Service
 

The Hallam Grange Bowling club is, of course, like any other successful voluntary organisation, no bigger than its members. It is they who can make or break it. Over the past 50 years many men and women have done much to ensure that the club has been run well and prospered, not least those important day to day tasks such as selecting and captaining teams, providing refreshments, keeping the notice boards up to date, attending League meetings, collecting the match fees, and so on. All the names of those who have played their part in one way or other would be far too long to list here. But it is fair to say that most of us would recognise that there are some whose contribution to the club during its first 50 years has been truly exceptional. So let's give praise to those where praise is due.

Duncan and Marion McCalman - Duncan is a man widely recognised as the prime mover behind the development of both the Tennis and Bowling sections of the club. He was on the Board of Directors of the Hallam club for 41 years and its Chairman for 19 of them. He and his wife Marion spent much of their lives dedicated to the growth and smooth running of both sections, and to individual members when help was needed. Always convivial, both were immensely proud of the club and its activities, and loved in particular the social side of bowling. Duncan and Marion richly deserve to have had the McCalman Hall in the main Pavilion dedicated to them, together with the award of honorary life membership of the Hallam Grange Club.

Wendy Oxley - Wendy has vivid memories of the early history of Hallam Grange going back to the tennis as played on Harrison's courts high on the hill in Slayleigh Lane. She joined the bowls section in the late 1970s and quickly established herself as an excellent bowler, almost unbeatable in the Ladies Round Peg and Jubilee Cup competitions. She was captain of the Ladies Team from 1982-86 and Treasurer from 199S-99. When she retired as Treasurer, she was congratulated on "her meticulous book-keeping” and for the effort she had put into a difficult job. Her husband, John Oxley, was himself an accomplished bowler, and widely respected for his work over many years to ensure that the club bar was kept well stocked and run efficiently.

John Turner senior - From the mid-1980s until early into the new Millennium, John was a very prominent member of the club. A bundle of energy, he was a fine competitive player and won the Hallamshire League merit Cup in 1996. Charming off the green, he could be combative on it. With a bowling arm as strong as that of Francis Drake, when he “fired" a wood, which was not infrequent, it was advisable to keep well clear! Very adept with his hands, he was an indefatigable worker in and around the bowls and tennis pavilions, always ready to tackle any job that required a bit of repair and attention. His electrical skills were much in demand, and the lights with which he personally decorated the pavilion each Christmastide were a major attraction.

Stan Fisher - Stan, a former owner of the Tavern Service Station in Crosspool, was a very lively and popular member of the bowls club during the 1980s and 90s. He took a close interest in the state of the bowling green. As the green coordinator for several years, he had to deal with several catastrophes, such as the collapse of the retaining wall on the bank which badly threatened the green, and the battle with the foxes. Very keen on the social side of bowling, he built up a reputation as the club's chief jester. He was an irrepressible story teller and the epitome of the laughing fellow bowler. On many occasions play would pause on the green as bowlers gathered around him to enjoy the latest anecdote or joke which had come his way.

Sydney and Marjorie Parke - Sydney and Marjorie have been stalwart members of the bowls club from the early 1980s onwards. Both were regarded as very fine bowlers, and they enjoyed considerable success in many club and league competitions. Both have held senior posts in the club and were active socially. Sydney formed a very constructive working relationship with Board members - Duncan McCalman and Andrew Hague - which were key to the successful application to the Sports Council for the grant to build the splendid new Bowls pavilion. He was a dedicated green coordinator, passionate about the need to maintain and improve its quality. His reports to club members on issues such as the battles with fusarium weed disease and the foxes, and the problems with the green's drainage system, are worthy of a book In themselves.

Andrew Hague - Andrew and his wife Wendy were long serving members of both the tennis and bowls sections during the period from 1958 until December 2008 when they moved to Ireland. Both were excellent bowlers winning several singles cups and, as partners, the doubles competitions. Andrew, a chartered accountant by profession, was a Hallam Club Director and the company secretary for many years. With his financial expertise he played a critical part in the whole Club's development. The bowls section were grateful for the sound financial advice he always provided when called upon, such as the cost involved of replacing the boundary wall when it collapsed, and of the major work needed on the green's new drainage system. And, most importantly, he was key to the financial work involved in the replacement of the bowls pavilion.

Janet Stokes - Janet is another lady with an admirable history of outstanding service to both the tennis and bowls sections. She was elected President of the whole Hallam Grange Club in 2000. She became vice-Captain of the bowls section in 2003 and then Captain from 2005 to 2008. She also chaired the bowls club from 2010 to 2013. A first class and very competitive bowler, Janet has been the staunch defender of the club's traditions and its standards.

Muriel and Jack Burke - Muriel and her husband Jack joined the bowls club in the early 1990s. Both were former PE teachers. Muriel quickly established a reputation as an exceptional bowler. She proved to be a most effective captain of the first Ladies League team and went on to become Captain of the club in 2002. She has remained an active supporter of the club, not least for all the teas and refreshments she has helped prepare over many years at home matches. Jack also had his successes on the green and was much in demand as the caller for the country dancing which took place in the winter months in the pavilion.

Chris Whitehead - Chris joined the Club in 2006 and was quickly taking a prominent part in its activities both on and off the green. He served on the bowling management committee, and was elected bowls captain in 2009. In 2013 he took over the position of Chair of the bowls club, as well as holding the same office for the Board of Directors. His good judgement, and ability to build trust and support, are qualities much valued by members. His calm and steady hand has been evident as much on the bowling green as in his conduct of meetings.

Trevor Kelly - Trevor is well-known as an exciting and at times excitable member of the bowls section. An enthusiastic sportsman, he joined the club in 2010 and made an immediate impact. By 2012 he had galvanised enough support among the men to form a league team once more. Appointed Club Captain in 2012, his drive and enthusiasm have inspired improvements in key aspects of the club, not least the marked increase in its membership and the support for competitive bowling. Trevor is also a qualified bowls coach and with a conspicuous bowling action somewhat reminiscent of the Statue of Liberty, to wit – “with conquering limbs astride and beacon hand held high.”

 

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