Bowling hall hit by 'devastating' fire at beginning of Covid lockdown reopens more than a year on

Boldon residents are celebrating the reopening of a local community association bowling hall, after the facility was hit by a fire near the beginning of the first Covid-induced lockdown.

Thursday, 10th June 2021, 4:55 am

Association members and staff were ‘devastated’ by the incident, with a major work having recently been carried out at the swimming pool facility in 2019. A refurbishment of the sports hall had also been completed just one year previous to that, after the centre received funding from the SUEZ Communities Trust.

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From left, centre manager Sue Topping with Coun Alison Strike and bowls team from left Keith Oxley, Les Waters, fixtures secretary Geoff Pattison, Phil Pye and Dave Lee.
From left, centre manager Sue Topping with Coun Alison Strike and bowls team from left Keith Oxley, Les Waters, fixtures secretary Geoff Pattison, Phil Pye and Dave Lee.

“Members are delighted with the refurbishment and the new look bowling green and celebrate being back to the activity which they all love,” said Sue Topping, borough councillor and manager of the Community Association centre.

"However, sadly during this time we have now learned we have lost some members to which our heartfelt condolences go out to their families.”

Repair works on the bowling facility began slowly, she added, owing to the initial restrictions brought on by the pandemic.

Work is still ongoing at the centre's swimming pool and sports hall – with repairs to each thought to reach completion as early as November of this year.

Fixtures secretary Geoff Pattison.

"These activities bring a lot of residents back together,” Ms Topping said.

“A lot of these people are on their own – they’ve been isolated during these months and have missed the social contact that bowling brought them. For some, it’s the only social contact they get.

"So the loss of this was devastating for many of them. But now we’re hoping we can add to our numbers, if anything – bowling is an amazing sport and we would like to encourage new members young and old to come along and have a go at taking part.

“I don’t play bowls myself but I’m coming very close to joining – it looks like they were having fun down there today. I think there was about eight of them down today.

Emergency services are at the scene. Picture by Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service

"It sounded like there were plenty of laughs being had."

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Bowling team member Dave Lee.
Emergency services are at the scene. Picture by Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service