The "Alex Marshall MBE Masterclass Tour" 'an insiders view'

Source Bolty's Blog / By David Bolt from https://wrongbias.com/



Hi all and welcome to another Boltys Blog. It has been a while but hopefully better late than never. After a weekend playing in the PBA qualifiers at Lincoln for the World Championships I thought it was about time for a blog and my development weekend away with Alex Marshall MBE was the ideal topic

Let’s get the dirty “C” word out of the way as it has been a strange eighteen months with Covid. I have had recent conversations where it feels like time has just been lost and we are just coming out of a hibernation period and back to relative normality. I really feel that from a bowling point of view we were lucky to have the second lockdown which may seem a strange thing to say but after the first, so many people including myself had found new things to do in what was beautiful weather at the time. If we had returned at that point I do not think many would have picked up their bowls again at least for a prolonged period.


The second lockdown was during the winter with early dark nights where we had more time to ponder what we would like to do. I feel many were missing just getting out and socialising with their friends in the club or on the green and the early signs are very good from a local perspective regarding numbers back playing. It is great to see busy indoor centres after a positive outdoor summer and the return of competitions on a national scale. Long may it continue and let’s hope we have seen the last of lockdowns.

I recently attended a Development weekend where I had the pleasure of working with Alex Marshall MBE down in the Northampton area, York and Darlington. A summary of our visits are shown below.

DAY 1 - MANOR SCHOOL (Raunds) NORTHAMPTONSHIRE


As part of a ‘Bowls is Bowls’ event we started off our visit at Manor School in Northampton where around 100 young students & teachers were awaiting a PE lesson headed by myself and Alex with assistance from BiB founder Mark Courtney and Chairman Martin Webster.


The thought of entertaining such a large group of students with some bowls inspired activities was a daunting one to say the least. We ran team events with three different activities.

  1. Incorporated bowls scoring wedges and New Age Bowls.

  2. Using bean bags in a petanque style to score points in various size plastic hoops and

  3. A test of hand eye co-ordination. In pairs it was a simple test of throwing with the right hand and catching with the left and vice versa.

The highest score consecutively without dropping the ball was the team score.

All in all it was very well received and the teachers were happy to participate in something unexpected but aligned with the general curriculum.


During the lunch hour we also set up the wedges in the main hall and we were delighted to see around twelve students play for a good forty-five minutes.

This may just prove to be a taster session but if we have given just 10% of the young students a memory of playing some bowls style activities then it is a success in the hope they may just drop into a club in the future .


WE WERE DELIGHTED TO LEAVE TWO WEDGES AND TWO SETS OF NEW AGE BOWLS WITH THE SCHOOL AS DONATIONS SO THE SCHOOL CAN CONTINUE TO RUN BOWLING EVENTS AT THE SCHOOL LONG AFTER WE AD LEFT

DAY 1 - KINGSTHORPE IBC I was looking forward to my visit to Kingsthorpe as I have good friends at the club and it was great to catch up. In what would normally have been a quiet Friday night early in the season there was a 75 strong attendance who enjoyed green time with Alex, a buffet, drinks from the bar and a Q&A session where many questions were posed to Alex and myself.


Whilst Alex was working hard on the green I was on Radio Northampton talking about our Three Day Bowls Development Tour and promoting Bowls. It was unusual to be interviewed as its normally me doing the interviewing on the WRONG BIAS PODCAST and I can honestly say its easier being the interviewer and I now know how our guests feel. A very enjoyable and positive night for the club and all those attending.

DAY2 - DAVENTRY IBC


On the Saturday morning we attended Daventry Indoor Bowls Club where we had the pleasure of a previous visit a couple of years ago.


Once again it was nice to reacquaint ourselves with past friends and our time at the club was to entertain visitors to the club on the green. This would be a precursor to a Charity event in support of Ambitious About Autism organised by Stu Thomas.

We were ably supported by James Shillingford, Marion Humphreys, Martin Webster and www.MaxXMilner.com with the latter taking photos, filming and entertaining the crowd with his music on the day which included a new song, ‘Bowls is Bowls . Is this the first Bowls Song people have asked. Does anyone know of another Bowls specific song?.

Numerous dignitaries and visitors spent time with Alex gaining tips and advice whilst having a game and I had the pleasure of introducing 8 juniors to the sport. Each one spent a lot of time on the green and the improvement in such a short space of time was very impressive. The following weekend the club had a follow up session via an open weekend where over 70 people came and gave bowls a go and the club is in the process of inviting them all back for free coaching.


After four hours at the club during which myself, Alex and Martin did not stop, we had to say goodbye and head North as the England Charity team started to arrive to play a game against Daventry Indoor Bowls Club which raised over £2,750 for Ambitious about Autism.

DAY 3 - NEW EARSWICK IBC (YORK)

The plan for the visit to New Earswick Indoor Bowls Club was a challenge style event. Members were asked to pay £2 charity donation for a two end challenge against Alex and then followed by myself.

After a warm welcome from the club we thought we may have ten to fifteen games to play but three enjoyable hours later around twenty-five members had taken their chance against us. It was a pleasure meeting everyone but the highlight for us both had to be the games against their Special Olympic players. A fantastic group of Learning Disability bowlers with a great competitive nature and such lovely personalities.

Winners of the two end challenge went into a draw for some prizes including a couple of our donated shirts and all who attended seemed to really enjoy the event.

DAY3 - DARLINGTON SOUTH PARK BC (Bowls England "Club of the year 2021"

Sunday morning we headed over to Darlington South Park BC for their 125th Anniversary event.

Alex received a round of applause on his arrival and after introductions was quickly despatched on to the green to skip a Fours match.


Having bowled nearly 400 Indoor Bowls over the previous two days he was on a bit of a hiding to nothing trying to adapt to a ten second outdoor green but impressively it didn’t take Alex long to adjust as I expected.

A singles match followed against a young Liam Brodie and then we provided advice during a junior pairs match. The club visit was rounded off with a game of ramp bowls against a very impressive Ken who quickly showed us both how to score a three and four against myself and Alex respectively. The day was also in aid of the Arthur Wharton, the World’s First Black Professional Footballer (arthurwhartonfoundation.org) and we both had the great pleasure of visiting an impressive set up that had been set up by Shaun Campbell. All I can suggest is to search for the foundation online and I can highly recommend the story and history of a great man.

Congratulations to the Club for running a great day and the ongoing work they continue to do at the club.



SO THAT SUMMARIES THE 3 DAY "ALEX MARSHALL MBE MASTERCLASS" TOUR



If any clubs have the opportunity to run similar events in the future then I would highly recommend it for your members and huge thanks to

  1. Alex for being the legend of the sport he is and

  2. www.BowlsisBowls.com for organising and sponsoring our wonderful “Three Day Bowls Tour”.

We both love giving back to the sport that has been the mainstay of our lives.


So for now it is goodbye from me [David 'Bolty' Bolt] but I have feeling there may be another blog to follow soon that might just involve Bowls and Fitness. I really do need to lose weight so next year I can hopefully go one better than my last couple of National Singles finals and maybe lose the bridesmaid tag

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