As Britain enjoys a summer of sport including Wimbledon and the World Cup, two Whitstable bowlers show age is no barrier for a taste of sporting glory.
Lionel Pout and Jack Pike, both 97, have rolled woods at the Oyster Indoor Bowls Club for more than 20 years and are possibly the UK’s oldest bowlers.
The sports-mad nonagenarians struck up a friendship on a golf course before switching to bowls and continue to play despite having suffered from heart attacks.
Lionel, a former farm manager, says the gentle efforts of aiming for jacks plus a healthy diet have helped him near his centenary.
He said: “I find the exercise does me good. When people ask me why I believe I’ve lived so long it’s because of good food and plenty of activities.
“I originally played golf with Jack at Seasalter in 1981 and we have always been good friends.
“We have such a good gang down here it makes a lovely afternoon. Even if I can’t play I’d still want to come down.
“With the amount of time younger people spend watching TV or on computers I don’t know if they could do it. It is a very nice club to belong to. I shall carry on for as long as I can.”
Hartlepool-born Jack took up the sport after playing golf and has no plans to slow down.
"If we just sat back after our heart attacks we wouldn’t be here today” - Jack Pike
The former naval officer added: “Like Lionel, I enjoy the company. I used to play pitch and putt on holiday with my wife and then I started playing bowls.
“I used to play league matches in trebles and mixed trebles and even now it’s something I really look forward to during the week.
“I have no plans to stop at the moment and my family wouldn’t want me to. If we just sat back after our heart attacks we wouldn’t be here today.”
Club secretary Dave Turner says the duo are a fantastic addition to the club which has more than 500 bowlers on the books from as young as eight.
He said: “I’ve never heard of any bowlers older than Lionel and Jack so if they are not the oldest in the country they are certainly one of them.
“It’s fantastic to have them both play with us – we have kids as young as eight, women and these nice old gentlemen who can all play together.
“I think it is something about their generation. My father played his last cricket match when he was 80 and he dived for the ball.”
For more information on the club visit the website at www.oysterindoorbowl.co.uk.
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