Beavers glad to be playing on at green

Bognor Beavers
Bognor Beavers

BLIND and partially-sighted bowlers have played their first match since their Bognor Regis ground was saved.

The 16 players from the Bognor Beavers club took on their counterparts from Crawley at Swansea Gardens.

The opening fixture of a series of games this summer followed a roll-up practice session at the site the previous Tuesday.

Among those taking part in the friendly was the club’s captain, Bognor resident Lesley Norton.

Lesley, 68, has uveitis and has about 6ft of eyesight.

“I’ve been a member for seven years and the club for about four years.

“I just love playing here. It’s excellent. It’s as much a social outing as anything else.

“It’s lovely to meet other teams when they come to us.”

The Bognor Beavers play the sport with sighted helpers who call out the distances between their woods and the jack.

This is based on a clockface to enable the players to visualise the positions in their minds.

The coming summer will be the club’s third year at Swansea Gardens, which has the advantage of a clubhouse, after originally playing at Waterloo Square.

It would have had to make the return journey if a proposal by a consultant for Arun District Council to concrete over Swansea Gardens for housing to raise money for seafront improvements had succeeded.

The council is due next Wednesday to finally defeat that proposal in a decision postponed from March 20.

Bognor Beavers’ chairman Chris Mustchin said: “Our club is not just about bowling. It’s about showing people with a disability can play sport well.

“We play throughout the year, with winters spent in the Arun Indoor Bowling Club in Nyewood Lane.

“We have 20 members and they usually play against each other and then we have six to eight games a summer against other clubs for visually impaired and disabled people.

“Pagham Bowls Club are the hosts here and they have made us exceptionally welcome. We are grateful for that. We enjoy being here.

“We are also indebted to our helpers for giving up their time to help us play.”

Mr Mustchin has been the chairman for six years. His left eye was damaged playing rugby as a teenager.

The vision in his right eye, apart from the central section, disappeared in 1994.

He has also begun to suffer from wet age-related macular degeneration.