Eighty years of greens, whites and bowls

(top) Patrons Beryl Neilsen and Bernice Madden, president Robyn McPherson, life member Shirley Drum and life member Lyn Olsson.
(centre) 1960 – Bowlers at second clubhouse opening.
(above)1994 No 4 STATE Pennant Winners. Images: Contributed.

The Yamba Woman’s Bowling Club held its 80th anniversary dinner on Wednesday April 26 – the very date of the first ever meeting in 1937. About 80 guests attended. 

On 26th April 1937, a meeting was called to form the Yamba Women’s Bowling Club (YWBC), in attendance were: Mesdames Duggan, Ford, Eades, Wallace, Russell, Thompson and Laman and Misses Newell and Morehead. Mrs Brown was not in attendance, but was on the committee that was formed. President was Mrs Thompson, secretary Mrs Russell, treasurer Mrs Duggan and auditor Mrs Brown.
It was moved that members pay an annual fee of £1/1/-, of which 10/6 be paid in advance, with the season to commence on May 1 1937. Further, that the committee would seek permission from the fledgling Yamba Bowling Club (comprising men only) to become associate members at a fee of 17/6 per person.
On December 14 of that year, they voted to become part of the NSW Women’s Bowling Association at a further cost of £1/1/- each. In 1938, YWBC joined the North Cumberland District (Newcastle-based) and became the only women’s club between Newcastle and the Queensland border.
The ladies became an integral part of YBC, throwing their resourcefulness into fundraising and helping in any way they could. The women assisted the men’s club in purchasing and developing the land on which the greens are situated today.
They worked alongside the men, helping create rock- and weed-free level surfaces. The first green was opened in 1937, but the freehold, costing £100, was not purchased until 1941.
As ladies’ bowls grew in numbers in the north of the state, the Clarence River District Women’s Bowling Association was formed in 1951, to which the Yamba women’s club transferred with a membership of 22 ladies.
Meanwhile, the original clubhouse had been built in 1935, at a cost of £130, and was later extended at a cost of £1,300.
The membership continued to grow and in 1960 a much larger building replaced the old, which was initially donated to the Yamba Golf Club and is now part of the Port of Yamba Historical Society complex.
Despite another extension in 1974, by 1997 the decision was taken to construct the club that we have today; it was opened in 1998. Just last year, further modifications have now seen the opening of the family entertainment centre.
In 1988, the ladies became full members of the YBC, and YWBC is now a sub club enjoying wonderful support from the YBRC in every way.
As for the women’s club, membership numbers have fluctuated markedly over the years, and now are fairly steady at around 70, although regular active participation in social bowls sits at around 30.
Nonetheless, YWBC has a proud history of achievement that its members continue to uphold.
There have been some very talented ladies who have had great successes. Lyn Olsson has reached the greatest heights of representation – she was NSW women’s team member in 2003.

Shirley Drum, left, Major Singles Winner 1981-82. Runner up M Wicks.

In 2002, Lyn had won all four district championships and went on to win the NSW State Singles Championship in 2003. Lyn’s career is studded with too many championships to list. Suffice to say; she continues to play well, having won the club major singles as recently as 2015.
Another who has had a simply amazing career at district and club level is Maxine Holland, who won multiple championships after she first burst onto the scene as a talented ‘youngster’ in the early 1990s. Sadly retired from bowls now, Maxine was state singles runner up in 2006.

Major Singles Winner Lyn Olsson, right, and Runner Up Maxine Holland in 1996.

Considering other past champions, some names crop up in the archives time and time again. They include Shirley Drum, a current life member who won the club singles no less than six times. She was a formidable skip, too, and was part of the only state pennant winning team from YWBC in 1994. Shirley received the Prime Minister’s Award for Services to Bowls in 2000.
Other outstanding bowlers include Betty Engle, Nell Pratis, Helen Annan, Robyn Stubbs, Ailsa Powell and Dot Dwyer, among others; more recently, current major singles champion Cathryn Aitchison has been one of the leading players.
But the strength on which the YWBC has endured for 80 years, and will continue to do so, comes from within the membership – friendships both with each other and with the wonderful bowling fraternity within the Clarence and beyond, along with a willingness to get in and have a go and work hard both on and off the green.

Wendy Ballantyne is YWBC’s Publicity Officer