Pioneering president looks back on a year to remember

Jenny with Mayor of Melton Jeanne Douglas and Melton IBC president David Fry at the start of the EIBA National Finals at Melton EMN-160526-162739002
Jenny with Mayor of Melton Jeanne Douglas and Melton IBC president David Fry at the start of the EIBA National Finals at Melton EMN-160526-162739002
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Jenny McConnell was looking forward to getting back on the rinks as her hectic year as national president of the English Indoor Bowling Association (EIBA) drew to a close.

The Melton Indoor Bowls Club member has made history over the last 12 months as the first woman to take the leading role within the EIBA.

Jenny McConnell EMN-160526-162724002

Jenny McConnell EMN-160526-162724002

The position comes with plenty of mileage, travelling to all four corners of the British Isles to represent the EIBA at domestic, national and international competition.

And while she has loved the challenge, there is also a part of her looking forward to the return of normality at home in Whissendine.

“I shall enjoy getting back to doing a bit more bowling myself,” she said.

“I’ve been able to fit in some league games and friendlies and I was able to play midweek in Melton. You don’t want to be out of action for six months at your own club.

“I haven’t been at home very much. I no sooner seemed to empty my case and do the washing than I was packing it again, but everything has been so nice to do.

“I’ve made such a lot of really nice people and made a lot of friends. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Her appointment last May also marked another landmark for the sport as she was handed the presidential reins from Melton IBC clubmate Arthur Broadberry.

It was the first time the same club had occupied the role in successive years and gave Jenny a helping hand along the way.

“I had done everything the year before as Arthur’s vice-president so I knew what to expect,” she added.

Jenny’s year in office coincided with a year of consistent success for England.

She was rinkside to watch the England under 18s mixed team, and the under 25 men’s and ladies’ teams win their respective British Isles international series.

But the highlight of her year came at the men’s British Isles Home Internationals, in Wales, where the England team won the sought-after Hilton Trophy.

“They wanted me to lift the Hilton Trophy above my head if we won and I did,” she said.

“I was fine with being the first lady president and everyone was fine with me.

”Before I started I thought some of the men don’t always respect the lady bowlers, but everyone was fine with it.

“I played in some of the county men’s games and they were quite happy. That’s why I was so pleased to lift the Hilton Trophy.”

Jenny, from Whissendine, also took part in 14 presidential matches against clubs and organisations and was at all the major club competition finals.

One of her final duties aptly came on home soil when Melton, where Jenny is fixture secretary, hosted the finals of the EIBA Men’s and Women’s National Championships in April.

Peter Thompson, chief executive of the EIBA, said: “Jenny has been a great ambassador for the English Indoor Bowling Association and the sport of indoor bowls across England.

“Her friendly and light-hearted approach as president has been well received by officials and bowlers alike. She now deserves a break and to enjoy playing bowls both indoors and outdoors.”