You will all be aware we have quite an extensive library which is used by our members; the proceeds of the loan system go to Cancer Research. I am now appealing to all of you to donate some more ‘new’ books; but there is also now the chance to donate ‘old’ videos and DVDs.  Please have a look. Remember you will be helping a charity.

On the question of donating, you might have noticed that our supply of bowls that we lend to beginners is growing small; once again. If any of you have unwanted bowls of any size, but particularly small bowls (i.e. Size 0, or 00, or 1); they will be greatly appreciated by the Club and the Coaches on Monday nights. Thank you in advance.

In the same sort of area, we are planning to erect a Player’s Wall, or Heritage Wall (you know what I mean!). I am therefore appealing to members to dig out photographs of past International players and/or matches. Lend them to me and I will look after them well. Can I say that I am particularly looking for a photo of Percy Watson, who gave his name to our Stadium.

A fair number of you have, since the start of the season, posted suggestions in the box in the foyer. Just to put your mind at rest, we have established a sub-committee to consider all these suggestions, and all will be considered well before the start of next season. It is impossible and impractical to introduce changes in mid-season.

Social Scene

I trust you all have noticed our new Smokers’ Awning outside. Absolutely no more excuses now! You wouldn’t believe the number of smokers who have told me in the last week that they have given up; I gave up by buying 2 pints for myself – one in each hand, which meant I did not have a free hand to wave a ciggy. That’s when I became an alcoholic instead! Smokers, please refrain from smoking in the hallway at the rear of the shop – this is still indoors and anyone caught smoking here will be suspended.

The St Valentine’s Dinner, I’m glad to say, is fully booked. Brian and Alberta have designed a very attractive gourmet menu and I am sure everyone will have a first class evening.

The Table Quiz on Saturday 2nd February went well, thanks to all who turned up.

The next Poker Night is Saturday 23rd February, and once again a good turn out would be appreciated from all those who like to gamble.

The next Night at The Races will be on Saturday 8th March, so once again we are now looking for race owners and sponsors.  If interested, see the sheets on the board in the foyer, or let the Manager know. The last Races Night was highly enjoyable and successful. I can add here that since last September we have raised nearly £1500 so far, through various fund-raising efforts, so thanks to all who have contributed in any way.

Hopefully you all will have noted the couple of competitions on the table in the foyer. The profits from these will go towards the new trophy cabinet.

Any Short Mat Club members who are thinking of an end of year dinner or tournament should get in touch with our Manager ASAP.

We had a very successful Macmillan Cancer Coffee morning in 2007. A date for your diary is Friday 26th September 2008 when we will host another one.

And now, a sad note: Maureen Mockford has passed away. Maureen joined the Stadium in 2003/4 and right from the start showed a natural bowling ability. She had previously played badminton for Ireland and prior to being diagnosed with leukaemia she had had a trial for the Irish Indoor Bowls team. Had she not been ill, who knows how far she would have gone in bowls. The courage and positive attitude with which she faced her illness and its inevitable outcome was an inspiration to all who knew her.  She was a very special lady and will be very much missed by her friends in BIBC and at Knock where she played outdoors.
(Irene Minnis).

And now, the first in an occasional series.

Many of you will recognise the picture below as belonging to Walter Fraser. Walter is one of the Club’s great ‘characters’ and what follows is a very brief and concise account of his life.

Born in 1915, Walter is now entering his 93rd year. He was never, he tells me, in hospital until 2007, which is a remarkable achievement. While not exactly giving me the secret, not only of his longevity, but also of his mental alertness, Walter has smoked a pipe all his life, and today admits to just a little alcohol.  While at sea he was given a plug of tobacco for sea-sickness! He spent the Second World War in the Merchant Navy, sailing the Indies and the China Sea.

Walter has only recently given up his car – reluctantly, as he has lost some of his independence. He started bowling about 1940 and became a member of Balmoral, where he still bowls for the Veterans. He was one of the first to join BIBC and his present skip describes him as an ‘inspiration’, and on a good day, Walter remains one of the best leads in the stadium, as many of us know.

Interestingly, having served many years at sea, Walter joined the Co-Operative and he recounts that he was the first milkman to be shot in the Troubles. During an attempted robbery, a gunman shot Walter in the back of the knee. The gunman was later caught and prosecuted because Walter had successfully spilt buttermilk on his clothing!

Today, Walter divides his time between Belfast and the Algarve, where his children have holiday homes (it’s such a hard life!). He is a stickler for routine, which he claims is vital for a healthy life. He is a kind and gentle man, a pleasure to talk to, and to bowl against.  Walter Fraser remains a sterling example to us all.

Recent matches

Above, is two 2 pictures of the recent Junior International teams who played in Southampton and Lincoln respectively. We have too many to name here (I’m glad to say!), but the boys in particular did well under the guidance of President Bobby Johnston; the girls were led in this instance by President Betty Craig, incoming President Molly Scott and Doreen Miskelly.

The first of our finals has now been played. Stanley Hegan beat Alan Briggs (both pictured above) in the Club Senior’s final.

The Management Committee played an annual friendly match against the Baker Stadium’s Committee, and I hereby report a home win, but the crack was good and the match maintains the friendly rivalry between the two Clubs.

The Bowls Shop in the Stadium is offering many good deals at present. Details are posted up around the stadium, but here follows a brief list:

All brown shoes varying in price from £30 to £35.50;

Men’s V neck Pullovers are reduced to £20;

Ladies Blouses are now £14.50;

Polo shirts are only £12.50 to clear.

Take advantage of these offers!

Finally, the Irish Bowls Coaches Association is holding a Course here for Assistant Coaches in March. Anybody (male or female) interested should see the flyers in the foyer, check the details listed on the website, or contact the editor personally!

Ken Armstrong