ROCKETING ice-cream sales and the smell of freshly cut grass can only mean one thing – the bowls are back in town.
Leamington has long hosted the annual Women’s National Bowls Championships but this year the men are also competing at Victoria Park, meaning four weeks of top-class sporting action instead of the usual two.
Organisers predict the tournaments will attract more than 20,000 visitors injecting anything up to £1.2 million into the local economy.
Warwick District Council is running an information stall for every day of both championships, directing people to local attractions and places to eat.
And many of the local residents who visited this week think hosting the event can only be good for the town.
Luke Edwards, a student, said: “I’ve been to the Welsh championships before but it was nowhere near this scale. The support here is fantastic.
“It’s great for Leamington to have the flags flying and all the extra people that it draws in.”
The championships have not always been popular with everyone. Last year the campaign group ‘Friends of Victoria Park’ was set up in protest to areas of the park being used for car parking during the summer holidays.
This year the council says it has reduced the parking area by nearly half and Bowls England, the sports governing body, insist it has sought to minimise its impact.
Tony Allcock MBE, former world champion and Chief Executive of Bowls England, who also lives in Leamington, said: “Following on from the success of the 2013 championships, we have worked closely with Warwick District Council, the Landscape Group and other key stakeholders and local groups to ensure that the championships, whilst bigger than ever, are well managed and cause minimal disruption to users of Victoria Park.”
The championships run until August 31 and entry is free for spectators.
Teams from across the country take part in the championships. 32.014.015.leam.jm15
The women are up first, followed by two weeks of the men’s championships. 32.014.015.leam.jm8
Sizing up the competition. 32.014.015.leam.jm5
The edges of the greens have been packed with spectators. 32.014.015.leam.jm10
Spectators have been lapping up the ice-cream. 32.014.015.leam.jm13
Shady spectators. 32.014.015.leam.jm14
Tony Allcock MBE, Chief Executive of Bowls England, with Warwick District Council leader Andrew Mobbs. 32.014.015.leam.jm12