Sydney Simmons
SYDNEY SIMMONS FIRST PRESIDENT & PATRON OKEHAMPTON SIMMONS BOWLS CLUB. Born on 10th September 1840 At Museum Yard, Okehampton. Died on 29th April 1924 In Finchley, London

In October 1921 the Local Council decided to provide the town with facilities for playing tennis and bowls. On being unsuccessful in an effort to get a loan for the purpose, Mr. Sydney Simmons, a former burgess and great benefactor to the town, made a generous offer of £500 towards the cost of the work. Mr. Simmons’ only condition for his offer was that the labour be recruited from the ranks of the town’s unemployed. This condition was strictly complied with and the work was put in hand.

The bowls green, which is still a public green today, was opened in August 1922 when Mrs Simmons bowled an inscribed silver ‘jack’ which had been presented by the Mayor. The lady Mayoress bowled the first wood across the rink. This tradition is still upheld at the opening of each season when the Mayor or Mayoress is invited to the club to bowl the first wood. Mr. Simmons’ generosity knew no bounds and when the final bill for the work on the bowls green and tennis courts totalled £821 he made a further donation which covered all of these costs.

Okehampton Simmons Bowling Club was formally founded in 1923.

The green itself has a foundation of rock, and is reinforced with sand and clinker. It has an excellent turf surface and is maintained by a nucleus of member volunteers.

A former club President Brian Vernon remembers back to the 1950s when members of the club ran a weekly Bingo session above the Premier Cinema (now ‘Let’s Toast Coffeehouse’) to raise funds for the club which at that time was using the pavilion, where the new bandstand is now situated.

The present clubhouse was built by members over a number of years and opened on the 14th May 1983.  Mr Roy Lobb who served the club as Secretary from 1976 to 1985 and President from 1986 to 1993 was instrumental in this project and a plaque to his memory recognising these achievements is situated in the building.

Today the club is thriving thanks to the committee, an army of volunteers who spend countless hours looking after all aspects of the club’s administration, green maintenance (for a green the envy of many other clubs), bar management, catering, gardening (and beautiful floral displays), and our club members for the general cleanliness of the clubhouse.