Before COVID-19 social distancing measures were introduced the Waikerie Bowling Club’s older members gathered each weekday morning at 8:30am for social bowls and a cuppa.
But the restrictions mean the club’s facilities have been closed since mid-March and it will be some time yet before normal activities resume.
The Waikerie Bowling Club has about 230 members and about 30 of its members are in their 70s to 90s.
“For some of them it is their only outlet for the week with other people and now it has been shut off,” says Andy Fulwood.
Andy, the owner of McCoy Menswear, is on the club’s catering committee and came up with the idea to prepare and deliver meals.
“Some are basically stuck at home with nothing to do,” he says.
The team of four Waikerie Bowling Club members have delivered 216 main meals in the past seven weeks, including serves of soup and sweets.
Waikerie Bowling Club Catering committee member Kerry Rogers enjoys helping prepare the meals and delivering them to the older members.
“It’s a good way to keep them connected to the bowling club,” she says.
“They are all pretty good, I let them know to ring one of us if they need anything.”
Preparing good home-cooked meals is not unusual for the Waikerie Bowling Club, which usually has a meal night once a month on Fridays.
“We get about 130 bookings without advertising every month for that meal night,” Andy says.
This strong community support for the Waikerie Bowling Club has also led to many of the town’s businesses and residents donating produce to the food drops.
Butch’s Smallgoods has donated beef cheeks, Rollbusch Quality Meats has provided pork, Waikerie Foodland has supplied beef, chicken legs and sausages.
Ross Mayfield, a local vigneron, has also donated some cartons of red wine.
Kevin Gillespie, 90 and his wife Lucy, 81, are both members of the Waikerie Bowling Club and greatly appreciate the food drops.
“It was unexpected – they are expert cooks,” he says.
The elderly couple are both missing their social bowls and regular morning coffee each weekday.
“It is a bit boring being inside a lot more than we should be, I am looking forward to the clubrooms opening again,” Kevin says.
Ronda Cain, 92, usually plays social bowls every Tuesday and Saturday and is grateful for the tasty meals being delivered to her.
“It will be good to get back, I miss it very much,” she says.
Ronda has also represented Waikerie in competitive bowls.
The close-knit Riverland town has also held many fundraising and community events at the Waikerie Bowling Club.
In November last year, a Barefoot Bowls event and barbecue lunch prepared by the town’s butcher, Nigel Rollbusch, raised $8,500 for the Ziegler family from Ramco, after their home was destroyed in a fire.
The Riverland bowling club has put out a challenge to other clubs around the state to also look after their older members, many the founders of local bowling clubs.
Andy Fulwood is keen for the Waikerie venue to become more of a community hub in the future and to attract some of the younger generations.
He says night bowls over the past two years became a real drawcard before COVID-19.
“We went from dwindling numbers to about 80 players now on Tuesday nights,” Andy says.
The Waikerie Bowling Club has applied to the Federal Government for a grant towards the construction of a $1.3 million dome at the green.
This would provide shelter from the rain, reduce the temperature underneath it by 10 degrees during summer and protect the playing surface from UV rays.
“It would be good for the Riverland to have a bowling club with a dome, there aren’t any country areas in SA with one,” Kerry says.
Andy says the proposed dome would provide the town with an economic boost, creating jobs during its construction, increasing membership and attracting more bowls competitions from outside the area.
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