Excellence news! Leamington confirmed as bowls capital of England

The move to make Leamington the centre of excellence for outdoor bowls in England has been rubber-stamped by Bowls England.

Delegates overwhelmingly supported the board’s recommendation that all national championships, international trials and international events be hosted at the town’s Victoria Park greens from 2014 by 63 votes to 17.

The decision will also see the relocation of the Bowls England headquarters to Leamington from its current base in Worthing, where the men’s championships are currently held, by January 1 2014.

The hosting of both the men’s and women’s national championships during August is expected to net the district’s tourism economy a substantial sum of up to £1m.

Cllr Stephen Cross, portfolio holder for cultural services, welcomed the decision and praised the behind-the-scenes work which has gone into securing the relocation.

“This is great news for the whole of Warwick district and cements our close and long working relationship with the sport of bowls,” said Cross.

“I would like to thank my predecessor, Councillor Susan Gallagher.

“We now have a strong team that can go forward and build on the good working relationships that have been established.”

Two-time world outdoor singles champion Tony Allcock, MBE, Bowls England chief executive, added: “The offer from Warwick District Council will secure the national championships for this and future generations of bowlers, and give Bowls England a concrete base from which to develop our sport at all levels.”

The men’s championships have been held in Worthing since 1974, but the central location of Leamington, together with its excellent accomodation and travel links were a decisive factor in wresting the tournament from the seaside town.

David-Mitchell Gears, chairman of the Bowls England board, said: “The board of Bowls England received a clear mandate from delegates at the AGM last February to consider a more central geographic location for the men’s national championships.

“The board therefore appointed a working group to consider this request in detail, taking into account various factors raised by delegates including a more central location, availability of accommodation and travel.

“The final proposal that the working group received from Warwick District Council fully met all of the identified requirements.

“The board was therefore pleased to recommend it to county associations for approval and I am delighted this was supported by the vast majority of county associations.

“I must add that I, like many bowlers, have an emotional attachment to Worthing but this decision is best for the long-term future of our sport.”

Victoria Park has hosted the women’s national championships since 1975 and was also the venue for the Women’s World Championships in 1996 and 2004.

Worthing’s Beach House Park will hosts its final men’s national championship between August 10 and 25 next year.