Two coaches from Worthing Pavilion Bowling Club who have guided hundreds of new players are retiring after 15 years of dedicated voluntary service.
Gordon Kibbles and Richard Calvert not only coached beginners, they trained bowlers from other clubs in West Sussex to become qualified coaches. All 26 passed exams run by the English Bowls Coaching Society (EBCS), the only organisation officially recognised by Bowls England.
Gordon, who joined Pavilion in 1990, and Richard, who joined in 2001, responded to a proposal for qualified coaches at the club's AGM in 2008. There was a pressing need because the national governing body insisted every coach had to have reached a certain standard.
They volunteered with Dennis Allen, Graham Farley and George Rhodes to take EBCS courses and by the following May had passed their level one and level two exams.
Five more members stepped forward to share the load, which included a lot of administration. In June 2009, Gordon was appointed coach co-ordinator with Richard assisting.
An open weekend in May 2010 attracted more than 100 potential bowlers, of whom 78 signed up for coaching. Many decided bowls was not for them but 38 became members and the coaching team worked flat-out until the September to school them.
Gordon said: "By improving the programmes, our aim was to ensure a new bowler after 10 hours of coaching would soon be able to play in club matches and competitions."
On April 30, 2011, he and Richard reached another milestone when they travelled to Crawley and passed the EBCS level three exam at the end of a gruelling day. That led to Gordon being appointed Sussex county coach, another voluntary role he has performed with distinction for the past 12 years, training experienced bowlers to become coaches. Richard has helped by acting as an assessor for level one exams. They also introduced marking and measuring courses for club members new and old in 2011.
Over the years they have run more than 20 events for organisations such as schools, scouts, Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, Women's Institutes, church groups and Round Tables.
They swapped roles in 2013 because Gordon had a serious health problem but their drive to attract new bowlers was undiminished.
Gordon felt potential players were put off by the initial costs so he started a loan scheme in 2014 that allows new members to pay only £30 for a used set of woods, which they borrow until they can afford to buy their own.
As well as steadily adding to Pavilion's team of coaches, Richard helped Gordon to write a guide for trainers and examiners in 2018 based on Pavilion's courses. "This was needed because bowlers were turning up for exams without having a clue what to do," Gordon said.
He was presented with an EBCS certificate of commendation "in recognition of special and exceptional service you have given to the art of coaching". And in 2020 he was awarded an EBCS long service certificate.
Gordon and Richard coached their 300th new bowler, Dale Alcoe, in October this year on the club's indoor rinks. Julie Woods has now stepped forward to become coach co-ordinator, with a team including Colin Davey, Eric Henshaw, John McCormick and Trevor Parker. They are all determined to continue the pioneering work of their predecessors, whose coaching scheme is recognised and followed by clubs throughout the county.