A particular warm welcome to our new members – I trust you are beginning to feel at home.  If you have any queries, questions or problems don’t hesitate to contact myself or one of the Committee, or indeed the Manager.

I am gratified by the number of intelligent suggestions filling up my Suggestion Box in the Reception area. These will be collated at some point and debated at Committee level.  Thank you to those who have so far taken the time to write.

Our 4 Open Evenings went well, with over 100 visitors attending, some of whom have since joined.  I now appeal to all our members to look around their friends and encourage them to come to the Coaching Sessions which begin on Monday October 1st.  The more members we have, the cheaper we can keep rink fees, etc.

In this regard it is worrying that the Heritage Centre in the South is no longer catering for indoor bowls; this leaves a big gap down there. It is also with regret that I note that the Ballymoney Stadium is coming under some strain as well. These are trying times for Irish Indoor Bowls, and I wish our friends in Ballymoney all the best in overcoming their difficult situation.

Forthcoming events :  our first Car Boot Sale occurred a few weeks ago, and was reasonably successful. We have learned a few things from that exercise and the next one is on Saturday October 6th from 9.30am until 12 noon.  PLEASE try to support this event; take this opportunity to clear out your loft or garage of all those unwanted gifts. Or- come to buy some of those items that you know you really need to make your home more comfortable.

We are planning to expand the ‘social scene’ at the Club, so watch this space for some interesting events coming up.  We are also planning to introduce a monthly competition – which will be for a bit of fun, but will raise a few bob for Club funds too.

Please note that we are having a Coffee Morning in aid of Macmillan Cancer on Friday 28th September. This is a really worthwhile charity, and I know our members will fully support it. There are notices up announcing the event; coffee/tea will be served in the Bar area on that morning; biscuits and buns will be available. MINIMUM donations of a pound will be accepted.  Brian and Alberta have generously donated the coffee and tea for the event and some of our Ladies section have contributed the buns and cakes.  The normal restaurant facilities will, of course, remain available for all.

Stanley Hegan has, as I am sure you are aware, retired with effect from September 16th.  This is advance notice that we are organising a ‘hooley’ for Stanley on Saturday 27th October. It will be your opportunity to contribute to Stanley’s leaving. Details will be posted later but it is planned for the event to be a Halloween fancy dress night – a great opportunity for some of you to dress up in gear you just dreamed of!! Indeed, someone in the office commented that some of us would not have to dress up at all.

Some members at the AGM in August raised the question of smoking on the Club grounds.  Various suggestions have been mooted, and I am glad to announce that I have arranged for a ‘Smokers’ Awning’ to be built.  I hope this will appear soon, and therefore appease, those smoking members.

I have been asked by quite a few members to, yet again, draw your attention to the Club dress code.  I am not going to repeat it again; we all know it. Please abide by these simple rules – no jeans are allowed during rink play.

The Leagues are now up and running; it is too early just yet to see if we are up or down on numbers, but next month will make things a lot clearer.  Another thorny problem, again raised at the AGM, was that of the number of rink players you can declare – 5 or possibly 6.  At this stage the Chairman and myself are looking into this with the Competitions Secretary and will make an announcement next month. Once again, if you have any thoughts on this, use the Suggestions Box.

In closing, may I wish all our members a happy indoor bowling season ahead. The prospects are fair, and if all our members pull together, I am confident that Belfast Indoor Bowls Club can, and will, have a very successful season.

Ken Armstrong