RAF High Wycombe Ten-pin Bowling Showcase

“A day in the office is a day wasted”. A disgruntled employee perhaps? A pilot? A navigator? An Olympian?

No, these are the encouraging words of the Station Commander at RAF High Wycombe delivered to all personnel in the hope that they will try a new activity during their busy schedules to promote a ‘whole force’ ethos and develop skills of competitiveness and athleticism.

‘Tenpin Bowling is played by over 100 million people worldwide in over 90 different countries with over 10 million people competing either at professional or amateur level. The number of bowling lanes worldwide is now up to 250,000. There is an active movement to make bowling an Olympic sport. A sport that has truly demonstrated international appeal, bowling has seen huge growth in Western Europe over the past two decades, especially in Britain and France. Its popularity as a competitive sport was recognized with its acceptance into the Commonwealth (since 1998) and Asian (since 1978) games as a medal sport.’

To make this event work, I was keen to deliver a package to show the opportunities within Tenpin Bowling and recruited the help of 2 current Team England bowlers; Matt Miller, 2011 Gold medal winner in the Commonwealth Tenpin Bowling Championships and regular Adult Team England representative and George Ackerman, scoring his first 300 at age 14, a 767 series at age 15 and now a regular for Junior Team England.

A very large thank you must also go to the 28 RAF Regular serving members, the 19 MOD civil servants and the solitary MAC employee through a plethora of ranks, grades, age and ability taking to the lanes following a warm welcome from Matt Miller, the CEO of the British Tenpin Bowling Association (BTBA), who in attendance with Chris Hillman, Technical Director of the BTBA, were more than happy to spend their time at an event that could produce a male or female of the future, representing Team England or at the very worst merely enjoying the sport of Tenpin Bowling.

The games commenced and the diversity of levels of ability soon became apparent with Matt and George hiding their amusement but still enthusiastically helping as many of the competitors as possible.

A blast from the past, WO Neil Bailey, soon found his natural ability and scored the afternoons ONLY 200 plus game and like all good sportsmen did not allow this to break his concentration and followed the 211 with a 111 game. This  inevitably provided enough of a cushion to be the Top Male of the event with a 476 series but a special mention must go to SAC Paul Campbell who bowled very consistently with games of 163, 153 and 154 to finish 6 pins behind Neil. Of the 28 male competitors, 21 averaged over the score of 100 and showed enough potential, enthusiasm and certainly sportsmanship to represent the Station at one or more of the 8 organised Tenpin Bowling Tournaments by the RAF Tenpin Bowling Association (RAFTBA).

The Top Female ended up being Sarah Stroud who scored higher than 23 of the male competitors and continued her impressive increase in average score with a 131, 130 and 146 for a 407 series and some 70 pins ahead of her nearest female competitors Piquita Robinson-Lobbett, Cpl Michelle Harvey-Perkins and Marie McKeon who all showed either a misspent youth or a very natural ability to represent in the sport of Tenpin Bowling.

The overall Team Champions, as if it was important, were Wanderers I who totalled 1245 and was made up of Sqn Ldr Andy Bryant, Dave Conner and Sarah Stroud with Pin Pals the Runners-Up with 1188 and made up of WO John Sanderson. Sgt Craig Farrington and Sgt Dave Podmore. Third place went to CBC who scored 1114 and was made up of Cpl John Croucher, SAC Paul Campbell and Dylan Browne so congratulations to all those who received an award on the day.

Not one to miss an opportunity, the Station Commander, Gp Capt Clifford kindly presented 5 current members of the RAF High Wycombe Tenpin Bowling Squad with their Station Colours; these were Sgt Brian Hallam, SAC Rachael David, Dan Nichols, Sarah Stroud and Rob Yandell.

The event was showcased by Matt and George kindly agreeing to participate in a single game bowl off against the Top Male and Top Female on the day. This resulted in a generous support of the RAF High Wycombe competitors against 2 semiprofessional Team England Tenpin bowlers, an atmosphere that was obviously too intimidating for Matt who succumbed to another 200 game from WO Neil Bailey and was comprehensively defeated but despite an indifferent start from George the competitiveness of youth meant a close fought victory over Sarah Stroud, so 1-1 to the Wanderers and a re-match to be concluded at a later stage.

Thanks to some generous donations from Matt Miller of the London Pro Shop, Heathrow Bowl, AMF bowling and Mrs Ruby Smith a raffle took place to gain funds for the 2014 season charity of the Association for International Cancer Research.

I must thank the Station Commander for his attendance at this sporting event and most importantly to all 48 of the competitors who maybe just didn’t want to be in the office on another wintry afternoon but I would like to hope that they entered to develop some hidden skills and who knows maybe continue the sport of Tenpin Bowling for many years to come.

FS Les Keates
RAF High Wycombe Team Manager
RAF Squad Member 2013-2014

For further information of the representation in the sport of Tenpin Bowling contact your Station PEd Flight for details of the Officers In Charge or the RAFTBA Secretary, SAC(T) Chris Smith at ODI-ELWESSGEFmech17@mod.uk or on 95235 7744.