Row over Jolly Fisherman bowls trophy

18 04 2010

A SIX-time champion of the Skegness bowls circuit is considering boycotting all events in the town this year following an argument over trophies. Proving the Jolly Fisherman is as dear to the hearts of visitors as it is to Skegness townsfolk, last year’s mixed pairs winner John Keith Bowmer has taken umbrage with organisers East Lindsey District Council.

At the root of the issue are the Jolly Fisherman figurines presented to winners; once made of silver, then porcelain and last year replaced by a plastic alternative.

Mr Bowmer, of Mansfield, says the plastic trophies were only meant to be temporary and that winners were promised they would be later replaced by ‘real’ figurines.

But District Council says this isn’t the case. They say it was clearly advertised in last year’s programme that traditional trophies were not available, due to health issues for the normal provider.

“We still spent £2,500 on trophies last year. They were not cheap things we provided,” said District Council spokesman James Gilbert.

“I know people are very passionate about their Jolly Fishermen figurines and it is unfortunate that last year we had to provide an alternative.”

Mr Bowmer strongly refutes the claim that a change in figurines was advertised in any of the three programmes for events last June, July and September.

He says he is mainly concerned for his playing partner Beryl Holland, who won her first title in 40 years of trying in 2009.
“She was very upset not to be presented with a Jolly Fisherman,” says Mr Bowmer.

“We received a plastic prize, yet they took £5,241 in entry fees for the September tournament alone.

“They do very well out of us from Nottinghamshire in Skegness.”
A recipient of a £100 cheque for winning the mixed pairs, Mr Bowmer said he spent an equal £100 on entry fees and roughly £500 on accommodation, travel, food and entertainment expenses while staying in Skegness.

Now aged 74, he has won a variety of categories on the seafront in the last half century and previously held the national over-60s singles title.

East Lindsey Senior Sports Development Officer Matthew Archer wrote to Mr Bowmer in hope of clarifying the ‘misunderstanding’ and said the traditional figurines would be back in 2010.

He offered Mr Bowmer the chance to purchase a solid replacement for £87.50.

Mr Bowmer indicated he would consider buying a trophy to save Mrs Holland the heartache but told council that, unlike the Jolly Fisherman, they ‘didn’t have a leg to stand on’.

Source: Skegness Standard

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