Up until the annual general meeting in September this year, there were only three current life members of Bowls New Zealand: Jean Ashby, Martin Christensen and Peter Belliss.
It was a trio of special people. Very special.
They’d been there, done that when it came to the sport of lawn bowls. The Bowls New Zealand constitution requires life members to have long and outstanding or meritorious service to the sport.
But the reality is that the bar is much higher than that.
There’s plenty of bowlers whose service has been long, outstanding and meritorious, but who haven’t earned a gong. Only the VERY special earn the accolade.
But this year the trio of life members became a quartet: with the indisputably deserved addition of Northland bowler Ann Muir.
Ann’s done the ‘long’ bit. She’s been bowling since she was 21, joining the former Herne Bay Ladies Bowling Club over 50 years ago in the 1967/1968 season.
“Even then,” laughs Ann, “I was a late starter … I spent many days in my childhood sitting in the ditch watching my parents pretend to babysit while they played bowls!”
Ann’s also done the ‘outstanding’ bit. She’s been an outstanding coach – being feted as the Bowls Northland Coach of the Year 4 times and the Bowls New Zealand Coach of the Year three times. She’s been an outstanding president – President of Bowls New Zealand 2013-2015 and President of her own club, Kensington in Whangarei from 2017-2019.
She’s given outstanding service to visually-impaired and disabled bowls … as a coach, selector and director – she’s got New Zealand amongst the international medals every year since 2015. Ann’s been an outstanding mentor to many in the bowls community.
And as if her long and outstanding service wasn’t enough, Ann’s also ticked the ‘meritorious’ box, more times than a voting paper in a council election.
She’s Bowls New Zealand cap No. 27. Ann’s played 26 games for New Zealand. She won a Bronze medal in the Women’s Fours at the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria playing with Adrienne Lambert, Colleen Ferrick and Marlene Castle.
As far back as 1990, Ann skipped the Women’s Emerging Players Four in the first mixed International test against Great Britain in Wanganui. As if that wasn’t meritorious enough, Ann’s won two National titles – in 2005 in the Fours in the Kensington team of Judy Carson, Caroline Downes and Nancy Jujnovich – and in 2014 in the Pairs with Carolyn Crawford.
She’s won 31 Northland centre titles including one just the other week and two Taranaki titles. She’s been both Bowls Northland Player of the Year and Bowls Northland Team of the Year (twice).
As if this meritoriousness wasn’t enough in itself, Ann picked up a Queen’s Service Medal in 2017!
You’d think that all this longevity, outstandingness and merit in bowls would mean that Ann Muir was passionate about nothing else, but bowls.
But wrong, she’s only been funnelled into bowls after her doctor told her that osteomyelitis in her knees meant she had to give up cricket and hockey.
She tried to share her sister’s love for golf, but misbehaving clubs sent frustrating daisy-cutters down the fairway.
“I’m into sport. Fullstop,” she laughs, “Bowls just happens to bear that brunt of that love!” “I’m also very competitive. I enjoy playing competition bowls, rather than just having a roll-up. That doesn’t mean that I don’t put in the green time … it’s just I prefer to practice by myself. I’m sometimes a good opponent … and sometimes a bad!”
It also means that when you’ve been playing bowls for 50+ years, there’s been a few days out of the 18,000 or more where the bowl hasn’t done exactly what it was told to do, or days when she couldn’t do anything wrong.
“The first bowl I ever played way back when was a toucher,” she recalls.
“My coach remarked that coaching was the last thing I needed. Little did she know that ever since then, I’ve been trying to repeat the shot!”
We’re sure you’ve done it plenty of times, Ann.
Thanks for making a huge contribution to the sport and congratulations on your life membership!
Ann at a Glance
2004-2005 Winner Women’s National Fours
2006-2007 Bowls New Zealand Coach of the Year
2008 Bowls Northland Coach of the Year
2008-2009 Bowls New Zealand Coach of the Year
2009 Bowls Northland Coach of the Year
2011 Gold in Trust New Zealand Women’s Triples Open
2011-2012 Bowls Northland Service to Bowls Award
2011-2012 Bowls Northland Team of the Year
2012 Silver in Trust New Zealand Women’s Triples Open
2012 Runner-up New Zealand Open Women’s Pairs
2013-2014 Bowls Northland Player of the Year
2013-2015 President Bowls New Zealand
2014 Winner Women’s National Pairs
2014 Winner ASB Code Award Northland Sports Awards
2014-2015 Bowls Northland Coach of the Year
2015-2016 Bowls Northland Coach of the Year
2015-2016 Bowls Northland Team of the Year
2015-2016 Bowls New Zealand Coach of the Year
2017-2018 Bowls Northland Coach of the Year
2018-2019 Bowls Northland Team of the Year
Published with permission from Bowls NZ