It’s been nearly 101 years since Glen Eden Bowling Club was founded on land gifted by a retired headmaster from Oratia Primary.
Originally used for lawn bowls, the site in Glendale Rd is now graced by two full-size greens. The club has grown to boast 137 members.
Business Development Officer Darren Schroeder says the group draws a mixed blend of serious bowlers and social players who enjoy connecting. “There are guys up here that have been members for 30, 40 years. Their parents were members here. It’s a bunch of friends and it’s support.”
Fundraising poses an ongoing challenge. Darren credits the community spirit of members and volunteers for an impressive history.“It’s the hours tradespeople have put into the working bees on their weekends off to get things done, all the time they have put into organising committees. That’s what’s kept the club going.”
A long association with The Trusts has also helped maintain a steady ship, he says.
“When ex-president Pete Lipsham joined in 1973, the club had just left Mt Wellington Licensing Trust and started purchasing alcohol from the Waitākere Licensing Trust, so it’s been a 50-year partnership,” Darren says.
Times got tough during Auckland’s Covid-19 lockdown when a spate of thefts hit the vacant premises. While the council helped with installing fences, the community group will also have to fund a gate, he says. “We can’t budget for expenses like that and must find the money to protect the club and its facilities. When you’re looking at work that needs to be done, the club has always known there’s that avenue and The Trusts are open to supporting community groups like ours. Any assistance with grants means it’s easier and we don’t have to go into our cash reserves.”
He says the club is grateful to The Trusts for sponsoring its first open for 2023, the club’s Anniversary Weekend tournament, as well as donating prizes for its Pink Ribbon tournament in 2022.
The annual Anniversary Weekend tournament, one of the group’s bigger public holiday events, has been regularly sponsored by The Trusts. This year’s event was supposed to see 24 teams playing on two greens. But the top green was flooded by heavy rain which caused flash flooding across Auckland on the Friday before the tournament. Teams were cut back to 18 on the artificial green below and players braved intermittent rain throughout the weekend.
“By the end of the tournament, everyone was soaked to the bone but enjoyed the banter, camaraderie, and the lunch,” says Bowls Committee member Janet Pihigia. “Everyone munched through the leftovers before the prize giving.”
Claiming the gold medal were men’s combination Keith Pickernell, Raj Halka and Keith Prosser from Glen Eden Bowling Club.
Over the years, the club has flourished thanks to ongoing support from The Trusts. This includes Anniversary Day tournament sponsorship of $5000 in 2022, $11,000 from the Million Dollar Mission for two air conditioning units in 2019, $2,773.78 for bowls carriers from the community fund in 2020, and donated items for tournament prizes, Darren says.
He welcomes new members to join the club, which hosts players from diverse backgrounds and a range of ages.
The longstanding group is set to mark its 101st anniversary on opening day for the 2023/24 season, likely to be in September. “We are hoping to repeat in April the Easter fours tournament we held last year, as it was well attended for our centenary,” he says. “A couple of other clubs have had to call off their Easter events due to flood damage so we think there might be some bowlers looking to play."