Kurri Kurri Women's Bowling Club celebrates 90th birthday

MILESTONE: Kurri Kurri Women's Bowling Club members celebrate the club's 90th birthday on Thursday. The club is the oldest women's bowling club in the Hunter District. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
MILESTONE: Kurri Kurri Women's Bowling Club members celebrate the club's 90th birthday on Thursday. The club is the oldest women's bowling club in the Hunter District. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Bowlers from around the Hunter River District joined the celebrations for Kurri Kurri Women’s Bowling Club’s 90th birthday on Thursday.

Founded in 1928, Kurri Kurri is the oldest women’s bowling club in the district and has enjoyed many successes over the years.

The club was originally located across the road from the current Kurri Kurri Bowling Club, and played in the Northumberland Association (now Newcastle District), before the Hunter River District was formed.

Honorary secretary Carolyn Glen documented the club’s history for the occasion and said the women’s club was formed by a group of wives and friends of the men’s bowling club.

“The wives and friends had been called on to cater for afternoon teas, etc, and enjoyed it but became a little envious of the men having so much fun playing bowls while they worked, so they decided to form a club of their own,” she said.

“Many and varied are the stories told – the one spoken of most is that they travelled to Newcastle by train leaving home at 7am and not returning until about 7.45pm – happy to do that to enjoy their bowls.”

PROUD HISTORY: Kurri Kurri Women's Bowling Club secretary and current NSW  senior side player Carolyn Glen. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

PROUD HISTORY: Kurri Kurri Women's Bowling Club secretary and current NSW senior side player Carolyn Glen. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

The club’s first president was Florence Butler, secretary Sally Hodgson, and treasurer Hannah Davitt.

Ms Hodgson later became the first president of the Hunter River District Association, and to this day the district plays for a trophy in her honour for the highest score on the first round of pennants.

In 1964, the club moved across the road to the new men's club –the George Oakes Memorial Gates still remain on the original site of the women’s club (where the preschool and two houses now stand).

Successes in the ensuing years included sisters B Gibson and J Foulkes playing in interstate games, and the club winning the grade four pennant in 1982.

From 1983 the numbers fell and the club was unable to conduct club championships or enter district games.

But in 2001, the revival of the club saw many new members join, and since then, the Kurri Kurri women have been a force to reckoned with.

They won the district grade four pennant in 2003, grade three in 2005, grade two in 2006, grade one in 2007, 2008, 2014, 2015 and 2016, and were runners-up in the state fours in 2007.

Judith Wheatley and Carolyn Glen were selected to represent NSW in the open side in 2008.

Glen has continued to play in the state senior side, racking up 52 tests for NSW to date.

In 2015 Gail Sheehan was selected to represent NSW in the state senior side, and both Sheehan and Glen are currently in the state team – a great achievement for a small club of about 40 members.

Glen said the club has a vast band of volunteers who continue to add to its success, along with the competitive players and executive committee.

“Without these ladies we would not have had the success we have had,” she said.

“These ladies are the ones who turn up time and time again.”

Glen said the ladies’ club is looking forward to a successful future.

“We have a number of very keen and competitive ladies and hope to have a recruitment day later in the year with a view to attracting new members,” she said.

Women's Bowls NSW state president Maryann Parcell; Hunter River District Women’s Bowls Association executive Michelle Robards, and representatives of all Hunter River District clubs were among the 77 guests who attended the birthday luncheon on Thursday.

Take a look at photos from the celebrations in the gallery below.

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