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Bowling into Retirement: How Mark Cowan Found a New Passion


Mark Cowan's journey into the world of bowls began in an unexpected way. It was a taster day indoors in April 2023 that first piqued his interest. “I went to a taster day indoors in April 2023 and had a go, then the following weekend as well. I quite enjoyed it but was not totally convinced,” he recalls. Yet, it was after his retirement at the end of April and a refreshing holiday that Mark gave bowls another shot, this time outdoors. The rest, as they say, is history. “I decided I liked it and haven’t looked back since.”


Mark’s transformation from a curious newcomer to a dedicated bowler is a testament to the supportive community at Ilminster Bowling and Tennis Club. “My first time of bowling, I bowled a bit like when I used to skittle - feet and body straight and just throw,” he explains. With guidance from the club’s coaching team and experienced members, Mark refined his technique, altering his stance and aiming to enhance his performance.


One of the standout moments in Mark's bowling career has been his selection for the County indoor and outdoor league games. “Being picked for my first County indoor and outdoor league games which I really enjoy and the competitive edge it brings,” he shares, highlighting the thrill of competitive play.


For those considering taking up bowls, Mark’s advice is simple but profound: persistence. “Give it a fair try and don’t give up after a few attempts. Attend the outdoor and indoor coaching sessions as they are invaluable for your progression,” he advises.


Mark’s dedication to the sport is evident in his practice routine. Playing with a group of six people three times a week, their typical practice session involves splitting into two teams of three, each bowling three woods in a two-hour roll-up. This regular practice is crucial for overcoming the biggest challenge in bowls – achieving consistency. “The most challenging thing about bowls is getting consistency with line and length in bowling both indoors and outdoors,” Mark admits.


The club’s events and competitions are a highlight for Mark. “I really look forward to playing in the county leagues indoors and outdoors, playing against different players and clubs,” he says. The internal club competitions also offer a chance to improve by playing against some of the best players, who are always willing to share their knowledge.


Being a member of the club has had a positive impact on Mark’s physical fitness and overall well-being. “I’m lucky that I can walk to and from the club which keeps me active besides playing regularly. The social interaction helps with my overall wellbeing,” he notes.


Beyond bowls, Mark enjoys the vibrant social scene at the club, from weekend drinks with friends to club meals, music events, and even the occasional bingo game. “I have met many people who I hadn’t seen for a long time and lots of new people who I didn’t know prior to joining the club,” he shares.


What makes Ilminster Bowling and Tennis Club special, according to Mark, is its welcoming and friendly community. “The club has a very large membership of playing and socialising members who are very friendly and welcoming. Many people willingly volunteer their time to do work inside and outside which makes this a remarkably friendly social hub of Ilminster,” he says with pride.

For Mark, joining the club has enriched his retirement and personal life in unexpected ways. “I retired early and had plenty of things lined up to do, then I met bowls which changed everything. We created a small group that regularly played indoors and outdoors together and socialized afterwards, which turned a 2-hour roll-up into a 4-hour gathering,” he reminisces. This camaraderie and sense of community have made his retirement years enjoyable and fulfilling.


In summary, Mark Cowan’s story is one of newfound passion and community spirit. His journey with Ilminster Bowling and Tennis Club is a shining example of how trying something new can lead to unexpected joys and lifelong friendships. As Mark himself says, “I wished that I had taken up bowls a lot earlier.”


For more information on joining Ilminster Bowling and Tennis Club, fill out the form on the contact page or contact us directly by telephone.

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Well done Mark, you have done exceptionally well in a comparatively short time. Your a Great example to everyone wishing to take up the sport & I wish you the very Best 👏👏

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