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Reporter is no jack of all trades at Bexley Blind Bowling Club
After winning a prestigious trophy last month, Bexley Blind Bowling Club was paid a visit by reporter Tim MacFarlan who learnt a thing or two about sightless bowls.
HEADING to Danson Park in Bexleyheath on a sunny afternoon, I was quietly confident I would be able to get one of those heavy black balls somewhere near the little white jack - even when blindfolded.
But that was before I had a practice with my eyes open and put News Shopper's photographer in greater danger than the jack, despite him standing in another rink.
A rink in lawn bowls is like a lane in tenpin bowling and for blind or partially sighted players, a length of string is laid from the mat where you release the ball to your target which can be up to 40m away.
Partially sighted players use a clock system where a caller relays the position of the balls in relation to the jack using the hands on a clock face.
At Bexley they use walkie talkies to tell players "two and 10", meaning a ball is two yards from the jack in the 10 o'clock position.
What you don't want to hear is "15 and 7", though that was quite good by my standards.
Alf Llewellyn, 86, from Bexleyheath, has been coming to BBBC for more than 15 years, since joining in 1997 two years after he was struck by glaucoma.
As yet another of my efforts veered wildly of course, he said: "You are playing a girl's game. It's not something you can pick up over night."
Mr Llewellyn, who is registered blind, speaks with authority as one of BBBC's victorious triples team at the regional John Young Cup in Wansdworth for partially sighted teams in Wandsworth last month.
The club has around 25 registered players, the oldest of whom is 101 and though he hasn't been well enough to turnout this season, Bill Paige is famous for nipping straight off to ballroom dancing classes as soon as play finishes.
As for me I did once manage to land a ball within a foot or two of the jack, though the fact it was with a tea towel on my head doesn't say much for my future in the game.
Profile of Geoff Weighill
THE stress of life as an oil trader contributed to the three strokes Geoff Weighill suffered five years ago.
The 64-year-old from Bexley struggled to cope with being partially sighted until joining BBBC in 2009.
He said: "I was looking at traffic signs and it was all like Arabic"
But bowls has given Mr Weighill new friends and a chance he relishes to compete in one of BBBC's 12 or so matches during the outdoor season.
He said: "My biggest problem is trying to explain that there's nothing wrong with my sight, it's my vision."
Mr Weighill's wife was an Olympic and Paralympic volunteer and her husband was full of admiration watching disabled athletes compete.
With bowls, he says you can never know how you will play.
"You have good days and bad days, it's as simple as that," he said.
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