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Ryman bowlers strike gold

Written by Margot Taylor
on May 02, 2024

When Deborah Cheetham Retirement Village resident Geoff Chandler took to the bowling green for the first time six months ago winning an intervillage tournament was the last thing on his mind.

But this week, Geoff and three teammates with a combined 36 years on the green, did just that.

The Deborah Cheetham team bowled over teams from Ryman’s Weary Dunlop, Nellie Melba, John Flynn and Raelene Boyle villages to claim victory at the Australian Ryman Roll Up bowls tournament and a place in the trans-Tasman final to be held in Auckland later this month.


“This was the first tournament I’ve ever played because I didn’t play bowls until I moved to the village and even then we just play socially,” an overwhelmed Geoff said.

“I’m surprised but pleased and quite excited.”

While Geoff was an avid cricket, tennis and table tennis player in his younger years, a bowls ‘clinic’ organised by his fellow tournament team members, Faye Richardson and Brendan Carroll, was the impetus to try something new.

“I’ve played sport all my life, but I didn’t think at this stage I would learn a new sport,” he said.

“I don’t think I’ll join a bowls club, but I’m quite happy to keep playing socially and to travel to the final in New Zealand.”

Team skip Faye Richardson said meeting fellow avid bowlers from Ryman villages was a win in and of itself.

“We’ve all got that similar interest in bowls but also being Ryman residents, so for us to all meet on the green is wonderful,” she said.

“And I’ve never been to New Zealand so win or lose, going over will be very exciting!”

Intermittent showers and cold gusts did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm, competition, and determination all teams and supporters brought to the tournament hosted at John Flynn.

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Competitors used enthusiastic hand gestures and calls of ‘come on, you beauty’ to beckon the ball closer to the jack, while supporters donned in blankets and beanies issued calls of support and applause from the comfort of nearby spectator seats.

The city met the sea in the final with a passionate team from Nellie Melba Retirement Village taking on the Ocean Grove locals.

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The Nellie Melba team.


The residents battled it out over 10 rounds, but the coasters triumphed over Nellie Melba 7-4.

Following the tournament participants celebrated and commiserated over champagne at John Flynn’s Happy Hour.

Deborah Cheetham team member Margaret Carroll said in true Ryman spirit the tournament smashed stereotypes.

“They say bowls is a boring sport,” she said scanning the bustling room.

“I say it’s awesome!”

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