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 of 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 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 today when the Mayor or Mayoress are invited to the club at the opening of each season. Mr. Simmons generosity knew no bounds and when the final cost of the work of the bowls green and the tennis courts totalled £821 he made a further donation which covered all of these costs.

Okehampton Simmons Bowls 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 good nucleus of member volunteers.

Our current President Brian Vernon remembers back to the 1950’s when members of the club ran a weekly Bingo session above the Premier Cinema (now ‘Toast’) to raise funds for the club which at that time was using the Pavilion, where the new Band-stand 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 1976-1985 and President from 1986-1993 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 and an army of volunteers who spend a lot of hours looking after all aspects of the club’s administration, green maintenance, bar management, the ladies who look after the catering,  our gardeners for the floral displays and  our club members for the general cleanliness of the clubhouse.