Many of us are settling into winter, and what better way to escape than looking back on a summer bowls event? The Preston LBC has hosted an annual event for first responders since 2018, and after a brief hiatus in 2020 the event was able to return this year.
In 2018, the Preston Lawn Bowling Club decided that they wanted to show their support for 1st Responders. First Responders are those who provide assistance at the scene of an accident or emergency, such as police, firefighters, and EMTs. Sponsors were found to provide prize money, a grant provided funds for a BBQ, and a local business provided beautiful and tasty desserts for between games. In addition, there were enough draw prizes collected for every participant to go home with a lovely gift.
The club invited the RCMP, OPP, Waterloo Regional Police, Waterloo Paramedics, Cambridge Fire Dept. and the volunteer fire department from neighbouring Ayr. Teams of 4 players arrived at 5:30 for a BBQ, distribution of equipment, and a quick lesson and practice from club members. Then, under the direction of their private club “coach” they played a game of Jack Attack. A break for dessert and refreshments was then followed by a second game. The evening concluded with presentations of the trophy, cash awards to all teams (which they then donated to the charity of their choice), draws for prizes and more refreshments and relaxation.
In addition to honouring these heroes, the club also provided information on PTSD and assistance resources. Organizers received some very personal letters regarding some of the participants’ struggles with PTSD and how much they appreciated the stress-free evening. They had a chance to be with former workmates and of course enjoyed socializing with the other groups.
In 2019, the event was held again and had even more participants. Many of the sponsors returned and several more were pleased to jump on board. Unfortunately due to COVID restrictions, the 2020 event had to be canceled.
After making several adjustments, such as rink size, team size (3 players) and a host of other COVID concessions, the club was ready to go ahead with the 2021 version. The date had been shifted from June to September and two more groups were added to the list of invitees, St. John’s Ambulance and Ontario Correctional Officers.
The evening began once again with a BBQ. This was followed by instruction, as each team was given their own personal coach/instructor. Then out onto the green to play the first of two modified Jack Attack games with a lovely dessert in between.
But then disaster struck. A vicious storm rolled in before the teams even finished the 2nd end. Luckily they got everyone into the building. A huge portion of a tree fell across some of the benches and tables, where moments before players had been seated. In hindsight they realized that they did have ample resources on hand if anyone had been injured!
They made the best of it. They opened the bar, served the dessert, drew the names for all the prizes, and had a great social gathering behind masks. As the teams couldn’t continue to bowl, it was decided to split the money evenly amongst all 10 teams.
Despite the set-backs, the club has been asked to hold it again next season and keep the tradition going. Some of the great sponsors and grant donors have already stepped up with commitments for next year.
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