Bowls gave me a new lease of life - Yearling

Alison Yearling credits bowls with changing her life

Alison Yearling admits playing bowls changed her life after being diagnosed with a genetic eye condition in her 20s.

The 44-year-old from Plymouth, who won Commonwealth bronze in 2022, was diagnosed with Stargardt's Disease in 2003 which left her partially sighted.

For a time, Yearling struggled to come to terms with the condition, before joining Plymouth Visually Impaired Bowls Club.

There Yearling developed an aptitude for the sport and begun to strike up new friendships.

"It was a period of trying to come to terms with the fact I was losing my sight," said Yearling, speaking ahead of Bowls’ Big Weekend 2024.

"I wasn’t in a very good place. It took me a bit of time to adjust to what was going on.

"In the end it was like, I can’t stay in the house any longer, I need to get out and push myself to get out and try and do something. I am really glad that I did. It has changed my life.

"Great friendships has been a big thing. As a visually impaired bowler, we have a director, and gives us the information that we can’t see.

"A lot of my journey has been with Sue and Geoff Wherry and they have supported me, been such good friends and Sue was with me at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham as my director, so we won the bronze medal together and Geoff was in the crowd.

"Just to experience that was lovely."

Bowls’ Big Weekend, partnered with Aviva, is back for its fourth year and bigger and better than ever, with clubs across the country holding open days to encourage new players to give the sport a go.

With over three million people watching Bowls’ Big Weekend on national television last year, and over 560 clubs on board, bowls will be taking over England from 24th – 27th May for the 2024 event.

After gaining so much from bowls after a difficult period in her own life, Yearling thinks the sport can offer others plenty on and off the green.

"Bowls is very accessible," Yearling said. "You could have a disability, elderly people that maybe can’t walk that well or use a stick, they can still play and it is good exercise, good to be out in the fresh air, you make friends with people which is nice and you can have a pastie lunch or a beer in a bar.

"A lot of clubs do social activities and that sort of thing. It is a really nice sport – not too energetic. There is a lot of skill involved and it’s a really nice game to play."

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