In celebration of International Women’s Day, 94-year-old Marie Wilkinson from Ebor Court care home is sharing the story of how she became the first female member of the Minster Bowls Club.
Born in June 1928 in York, Marie has been a lover of sports since she was in school, often going to watch rugby games in York with her parents. She said,
‘There wasn’t much opportunity for girls to play sports in those days, but when I began to attend Queen Anne’s School, I played as many sports as I could – or as many as the school would let me.’
Throughout school and her career at a touch typist for Rowntree’s and the railways, Marie continued to play sports, favouring tennis and cricket until she discovered the game of bowls when she was on holiday with her husband, Joe, in Tenerife.
Marie immediately fell in love with bowls but was disappointed to find she could not join the all-male team that her husband was part of, the Minster Bowls Club. Marie said,
‘They were adamant that it was a men’s only club, and this is something I didn’t like. I wanted to be able to have a game with my husband.’
For years, Marie would take her husband to the bowls club and pick him up again afterwards every week, until one day she stayed to watch a game.
Marie asked one of the club members why there were no female players, and told them she wanted to join the team. For weeks, she waited for a response from the team. Marie said,
‘A few weeks later, they asked me if I would like to make up the numbers on one of the games. They had thought about what I had said, and clearly realised they were missing out on my expertise! A few months later, other wives were allowed to join too.’
At around the age of 70, Marie became the club’s first ever female member. She stayed at The Minster Bowls club for over twenty years, and won twelve trophies. Marie continued,
‘The men didn’t like it one bit when I kept beating them, but I thought ‘tough’! I was better.’
Last year, in August 2022, Marie made the decision to move into Ebor Court, where she was delighted to join their Bowls Club. Now, she and her friends in the home meet weekly for a friendly game and a catch up.
Shane Talbot, the Home Manager at Ebor Court, said,
‘We feel honoured to have such a talented bowls player in our midst!
‘Marie is one of many strong female figures we’re lucky to have living with us an Ebor Court, and we love to help them to tell their amazing stories through our #ThisIsMe booklets.’
Ebor Court’s #ThisIsMe booklets allows the care home’s team members to learn about each residents’ life history, likes, dislikes, interests and family loves, so that their care and activities schedule can be tailored to the individual.
Ebor Court, operated by Ideal Carehomes, is a residential and dementia care home, rated ‘GOOD’ by the Care Quality Commission. All bedrooms in the care homes are en-suite, enabling staff to deliver person-centred care in a dignified manner, promoting independence as far as possible. Ideal Carehomes was named the winner of the Large Residential Care category in the Laing Buisson Awards 2022.