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St George's Bowling Club duo Leslie Jeffrey and Gary Piper reach 55 and over national pairs finals

National over-55 doubles finalists Les Jeffrey and Gary Piper
National over-55 doubles finalists Les Jeffrey and Gary Piper

St George’s pair Leslie Jeffrey and Gary Piper are through to the national bowls finals.

The Sheerness bowlers reached the finals in the 55 and over pairs after beating their opponents from Dartford’s Mill Hill Bowls Club 24-16 last Thursday.

“It’s the highlight of my career,” said Jeffrey, who is greenkeeper at St George’s.

He and Piper have been representing Kent since receiving their county badges in 2004 but have never competed before on the national stage. It was the first time they had attempted to qualify for the prestigious tournament, with the finals taking place in Worthing from Saturday.

Jeffrey, 67, and 56-year-old Piper started at the qualifying stage in May and have beaten pairs from Rochester, Borough Green – twice – Canterbury and Ramsgate on the way to the finals.

Jeffrey said: “I suggested to Gary that we should have a go at qualifying and he said ‘why not?’. Prior to this, the biggest highlight was reaching Kent semi-finals in the fours, along with Gary, which earned us our county badges."

Jeffrey suffers with Parkinson’s disease and plays with a neck collar to steady his head. He said: “Bowling helps me to relax and I feel like a different person when I am playing.”

He and Piper begin their national challenge on Saturday morning, when they are up against Jim Smith and Robert Fleming from Essex. The semi-finals and final take place on Sunday.

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