Margaret is a marvel in bowls and tennis
11:19am Wednesday 6th February 2013 in Sport
“I just think if they have half the fun that I had then it will be great for them.”
Margaret Carter readily admits to being an octogenarian but still plays her sport with the vigour, verve and enthusiasm of someone half her age.
Margaret hails from Milford Haven and after many years as one of the best tennis and table tennis players in the county turned to bowls 20 years ago — and has been just as successful, indoor and out, as well doing a lot of administrative work into the bargain.
At the moment Margaret is the Hon Secretary for the ladies’ section of the Pembrokeshire Indoor Bowls Club, situated at the Meads Leisure Centre in Milford Haven, taking over from the lovely Nora Evans. She is also membership secretary and until stepping down this season organised friendlies against the likes of Heatherton.
Her latest challenge was to organise a special event to raise funds to help Ben Hopkin with his travel as a member of the Welsh Disability bowls team. Margaret devised a Sunday tournament which had 32 entrants playing in eight rinks, all chosen by Margaret, with lots of fun but good competition as well.
Ben played alongside his mum Rita, carer John Davies and good friend John Evans but it was a rink skipped by Haverfordwest’s Billy Jones who won — and Margaret had even organised thoughtful prizes for them as their reward. There was a superb meal provided by Diane Davies and her ladies afterwards. As a result of the tournament there was a special presentation to an overwhelmed Ben of £300!
Margaret still coaches tennis at the dome in Haverfordwest on Monday evenings and derives great satisfaction in working with the 4 to 6-year-olds just starting out in the game.
“I just think if they have half the fun that I had then it will be great for them. At that age they are very enthusiastic, receptive to advice and soon improve their basic skills. I just wish that I’d had the chance to p l a y when I w a s t h e i r a g e ! ”
s h e said.
S h e was a v e r y s t r o n g player in h e r y o u n g e r days and won the ladies’ doubles with Jenny Scoble at the county finals about six times, as she did when she partnered l o c a l teacher Roger Jones in the mixed doubles.
“But around the start of the 1990s Jenny and I played talented teenagers in Katrina John and Suzanne Hay,” chuckles Margaret, “and they beat us so easily I decided it was time to gracefully bow out before I made a complete fool of myself!”
Be that as it may, Margaret continued with her wonderful coaching and this season was honoured to be chosen as county president.
“It is a great honour and absolutely lovely because all I have to do is attend the county tournament at the Haverfordwest Courts and present a few prizes — how lovely is that?”
Moving on to table tennis, there s no doubt that Margaret was the No 1 lady player in Pembrokeshire for many years, and her son Preston was the best male player.
So when they took part in the county finals they were always red-hot favourites to take the mixed doubles silverware. She won the county’s ladies’ singles for more years than she cares to remember, and after Margaret coached her to Welsh recognition, Linda Leggett joined Margaret as a very good doubles pairing, and they won the county final on a number of occasions.
“There was some wonderful competition back then and I particularly enjoyed the north v south challenge matches that took place every year. Milford was twinned with Romilly and we used to play them in table-tennis every other year, sometimes in France and other times here.
“We used to share a bus with the town band whenever we went to Romilly and they were lovely occasions.
It was also smashing to see the likes of Linda Leggett join triplets Caroline, Patricia and Elizabeth Collins, plus Phil Armstrong, Peter Munn and James Dyson develop into very good players after our coaching sessions at Hubberston Youth Club,” Margaret said: But now it is bowls that occupies much of her leisure time, having taken it up because husband Mike was already involved.
“I went along to the Meads and to be honest I thought it was a bit slow for me at first,” admitted Margaret. “I began to understand the tactical side of the game and it wasn’t long before I was hooked.”
She and Mike still play against each other sometimes, but asked who comes out on top? She said: “No comment!” Then with a twinkle in her eye, she added: “Me, of course. I’m still far too competitive for his liking!”
In her time at bowls Margaret has won a string of trophies, both indoors and out, in pairs and triples mostly, plus a few singles successes. There are also open tournaments these days where there are cash prizes and she has done quite well in those with Beryl Lewis (Saundersfoot) as her playing partner.
“They are very competitive,”
said Margaret, “and both Beryl and I enjoy taking part.”
Margaret plays at least twice a week at the Meads and sometimes more.
“There is time allocated for ladies’ bowls during the day and evenings on Tuesday and Wednesday, plus alternate Thursday afternoons, and matches at the weekend,” said Margaret.
We are always on the look-out for new players and they are guaranteed a warm welcome. We provide coaching and every encouragement to enjoy bowls in a friendly atmosphere, so all you have to do is pop down and join us.”
One only has to chat to Margaret Carter for a short while to see her genuine enthusiasm for sport in general, and bowls in particular.
She is ever-ready to help newcomers and she is so convincing that I might even consider getting some woods myself and popping down to The Meads Leisure Centre for a roll-up with one of the nicest ladies in Pembrokeshire Sport.