Bowls in Scotland

As part of Mental Health Awareness month, we are spreading a light on the benefits sport can have on your mental health. Often in more rural communities this can be a challenge but bowls clubs across Scotland are supporting togetherness to unite local people and reinforce the sense of community.

We have spoken with Stuart Bell, one of three National Development Officer for Bowls Scotland, around several different clubs which he visited last month.

As part of his role, Stuart supports all affiliated clubs from Perth & Kinross up to and including Orkney and the Western Isles, which is almost 180 clubs in an area geographically larger than Wales. Stuart provides dedicated support to clubs on request, whether it be membership recruitment, funding applications, or school programmes, with the aim to upskill the club to be able to better conduct these functions themselves in the future.

The clubs which Stuart engages with often fall into two categories. One being those where the club needs a plan or objective for the year, this could be a new committee or volunteers that are just unsure on how to take the club forward. The second type of club is often a club that are doing all the right things to support sustainability, but just need reaffirming or some minor areas of support.

During his most recent trip, Stuart visited three bowls clubs; Grantown Bowling Club, Kirkwall Bowling Club and Thurso Bowling Club.

Grantown Bowling Club is situated in Grantown-On Spey, Highland. Hosting four weekly bowling sessions including league sessions and club competition matches. The club engages with 80 people on a weekly basis and is hoping to increase the diversity of their reach through open days, including their upcoming Try Bowls event on Sunday 2nd June. More information can be found on their Facebook page using the following link.   

Grantown Bowling Club Try Bowls Session

Thurso Bowling Club was the second club which Stuart visited. The most northerly bowling club on UK mainland. Open for play daily from 10.30am, they host 47 organised sessions a week and have club competitions each weekend during the bowls season. Thurso is a forward-thinking, progressive club, who have the right drive and experience on their committee. The club has embraced the BowlsMark accreditation scheme bowls-mark-information-pack-amend-18apr19.pdf ( Bronze is very much about creating a fun, safe club environment. Silver is more focused on new and existing member experience and Gold looks at long-term panning for the club. The club were presented with their Silver award on this visit. They have a large membership with 150 people attending the club weekly from a number of different ethnic groups. They are currently experiencing issues where there are more members than space available.

Thurso Bowling Club

The final club which Stuart visited is Kirkwall Bowling Club on Orkney Island, where he met with six club members who were going to be put through a coaching course showing them how to create a fun and safe environment for the bowls sessions and how to deliver a Try Bowls session. The club is extremely popular in the local area with over 200 attendees each week.

Kirkwall Bowling Club

Bowls Scotland are also looking to partner with more sports on the Orkney Islands with St Margarets Hope Bowling Club in the south of the island planning to host a Tri-Sport event with the bowling, tennis and golf clubs on the island.

Throughout his visits Stuart experiences firsthand the positive impact which the clubs have on the mental health of those who partake in sessions and how the clubs serve as pillars of connection within the local communities. Despite rural clubs facing challenges there is support on hand from Stuart and the wider Bowls Scotland team. For more information in taking part head over to

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