A Special Report by David Rhys-Jones : Still the Voice of Bowls

Not one but two. Yes – there were TWO wheelchair bowlers who had qualified for the 2010 EIBA National Finals – another first! Helen Wood and Vera Moore made it a wheelchair bowls double. Gone are the days when you might hear, “Oh look, there’s somebody playing in a wheelchair!”

Vera Moore, who has had her health battles to fight in recent times, says she is totally absorbed in ‘open’ bowls. She now plays for the City of Birmingham club in Stirchley, and was leading for Pat Humpage and Barbara Tew, who gave the star-studded North Walsh trio of Linda Blake, Christine Webb and Jayne Roylance a tough time, before the Norfolk trio got home, 25-15.

Whilst they both bowl from wheelchairs they use different types of wheelchairs – Vera was playing from a Buggy and Helen prefers a Clippie.

Helen, who seems to be the EIBA’s poster girl (and a good choice too), performed well at second for Yorkshire in the final of the Atherley Trophy; appearing for the county for the second year in succession.

Helen was playing out of Doncaster last year when, as skip, she reached the final of the national unbadged pairs championship, but she has transferred heR allegiance to York, where she has been made most welcome.

“She’s our secret weapon,” said Joan Mason, her skip in the Yorkshire side, who was England president in 2002. “She’s been a tower of strength on our rink all season.”

Mason’s rink won 24-16, one of only two winning rink for Yorkshire, who took Kent to the wire, before the southern county got home, 111-104.

The EIBA deserve praise for supporting the emergence of so many wheelchair bowlers, who, thanks to the Buggy and Clippie, can play bowls on equal terms with their able-bodied friends and rivals.

Both Vera and Helen are flying the flag for wheelchair bowlers in the UK. Also, the EIBA must surely be proud of the role it has played in helping to end discrimination, and fostering integration, and in using Helen’s picture as part of its advertising material.