One keen bowler has earned himself a pat on the back.
The South Otago Town and Country Club — Bowls South Otago Centre recently had its annual meeting at which stalwart Ernie Bonney received a life membership for his long-standing contribution.
Mr Bonney joined Bowls South Otago in 1989.
He said he had taken on a wide range of duties for the centre, including becoming vice-president of the Bowls South Otago Umpires Association in 2002, and president in 2003.
He subsequently became secretary, a role he has continued to fill to this day.
‘‘It was the year after I was let go from the Post Office, so I joined the centre as it gave me something to do,’’ Mr Bonney said.
‘‘I did end up staying a while. If I didn’t like it I wouldn’t still be around,’’ he joked.
‘‘I do quite enjoy the game. I don’t want to be a wizard at it but I do enjoy playing it.’’
Mr Bonney was ‘‘quite surprised’’ when the centre announced his life membership at the meeting.
‘‘I honestly didn’t even think I was here for that long, but it was a nice surprise for the recognition,’’ he said.
Mr Bonney, who has been an umpire since 1994, was made a life member of the Bowls South Otago Umpires Association in 2021.
He said there were 32 members the year before he started, which had since shrunk to about 10.
‘‘It’s a sign of the times. Not everyone gets involved any more and that’s OK,’’ he said.
He said one of his highlights was competing against teams from Southland, South Otago, Central Otago and North Otago and South Canterbury, along with his name appearing on the wall of fours winners in previous competitions.
Bowls South Otago publicity officer Allan Roulston said the centre was proud to award Mr Bonney the life membership.
‘‘He is a loyal, dedicated and active member and has been for over 33 years, showing sportsmanship in all that bowls stands for,’’ Mr Roulston said.
‘‘Ernie has led by example with full participation in anything to do with bowls, his knowledge and skills, benefiting all members of Bowls South Otago with his umpiring.
‘‘He’s had an outstanding commitment to the game of bowls at centre level for over 28 years.
‘‘He is very deserving of the life membership of Bowls South Otago.
‘‘He’s put an enormous amount of time and energy into the centre and we really appreciate it.’’