50 golden years for Fair Isle

KIRKCALDY;'Members at Fair Isle Bowling Club throw the first jack of their 50th anniversary season, and are also unfurling a 50th anniversary flag. Presidents wife GAIL MC LAUGHLAN throws the first jack of the season 2011'Photo ; WALTER NEILSON
KIRKCALDY;'Members at Fair Isle Bowling Club throw the first jack of their 50th anniversary season, and are also unfurling a 50th anniversary flag. Presidents wife GAIL MC LAUGHLAN throws the first jack of the season 2011'Photo ; WALTER NEILSON
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A KIRKCALDY bowling green is celebrating its golden anniversary.

The 50th season at Fair Isle Bowling Club has started with the ritual throwing of the first jack, while a commemorative flag was also unfurled to mark the occasion.

Club secretary Chic Cottrell paid tribute to the members who have kept the club going through five decades.

“There has to be a huge pat on the back to all the previous members and people who have seen the club through to this stage,” he said.

“There have been peaks and troughs, but the present committee over the last four years has strengthened many of our weaknesses.

“We have an excellent committee, and that’s really helped us get to where we are today. It’s been a true team effort -for the size of the place, we’re in good shape.”

Opened on April 29, 1961, by Provost James W.M Gourlay, the Templehall Recreation Centre, as it was originally known, incorporated two bowling greens, an 18-hole putting green, three tennis courts and a pavilion.

It was built at a cost of £15,000 by Kirkcaldy Town Council, helped by a £3000 contribution from the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation (CISWO).

Mrs Gourlay, the provost’s wife, threw the first jack and a new bowling community was born – and it has subsequently stood the test of time.

Chic added: “Speaking to older members, the crowds used to be four-deep around the greens on championship days. There was a lot of local support in the early days.

“Today our membership is thriving so much - so that we’re actually running out of space. If we continue to expand the way we are, we could be closing our membership by 2014.”

A key moment in the club’s history was the building of an extension to the clubhouse in 1993, which transformed an antiquated pavilion into a modern facility.

“That forward-thinking at the time has got us into a position whereby today we have not only a successful bowling club, but a social and family club,” Chic explained.

“They built a bar and a bigger kitchen and that allowed the club to become self-sufficient through income that other clubs maybe didn’t have.”

Fair Isle’s most difficult period was during 2004-05, when the club ran into financial difficulty.

Chic explained: “The club hit a bit of a slump.

‘‘There was low membership and seemingly no route to survive. The kids section was down to just two. The club needed fine-tuned.

“A new committee took over and the first thing was to stabilise the financial position and get the club back on track.

“We started selling ourselves as a community, and started to tap into local schools.

‘‘Building up the junior section was the crux that helped us change the situation we were in.

“We had parents coming to watch their children, who then saw an opportunity to start doing something as a family.

‘‘From there, club membership has increased year on year.

“We’ve also opened our doors to the blind bowlers, and changed our constitution to allow them to play in club competitions.

We’re always looking at way to help people within our community.”