Orewa Bowls Club members are looking forward to year-round uninterrupted play thanks to the completion of a brand new roof over one of its three greens.
The marathon project, which has been in the pipeline for the last four years, was paid for with a combination of community grants plus a game-changing pledge from Ryman Healthcare which Project Manager and Club President Tony Rickerby says is what got the roof finally over the line.
Speaking after the official opening of the Ryman Healthcare Bowls Stadium last week where guests including MP for Rodney Mark Mitchell, Ryman representatives and dozens of the club’s 300-plus members saw the ribbon being cut, Tony said: “The club is so grateful to Ryman Healthcare.
“It’s Ryman that actually got us across the line. If we hadn’t had the naming rights then we wouldn’t have the stadium today.
“It means now we can play all year round, all weather round, and our membership is growing so fast now because of that. We’ve had 17 new members since January!”
Tony said the seed for the idea was planted four years ago with former club president Peter Clarke.
Then followed 18 months of seeking designs, quotes and council consents plus applying for grants and sponsorships, which is where Tony’s previous role as sales advisor at Ryman’s Evelyn Page Retirement Village came in handy.
“I’ve just enjoyed that relationship with Ryman who have supported the club for 12 years. I approached them with our proposition and they said ‘okay!’”
The roof had to be cyclone-proof, being on the coast, and in order to make the curved steel rafters the work had to be done in China, said Tony.
“The steel wasn’t available in Australia or New Zealand at the time so everything had to be done in China and that took another nine months.
“All the bowlers here thought it was never going to happen – the foundations had been dug but nothing happened for nine months!”
The roof was finally finished in January, then the Ryman name went up on Wednesday last week followed by issuing of the Code of Compliance on Friday, the day of the official opening!
“I’m just thrilled about it. And thrilled for the club,” said Tony. “Everyone loves it. With all the new Ryman posters on the pillars it feels kind of like going into a movie theatre!
“And the bookings are coming in now for tournaments. We’ve got our first Ladies Classic next week which will see 96 ladies from the top of the North Island coming to play.”
Mark Mitchell, who has been a big supporter of the club since taking on the role of MP for Rodney, said he was delighted to see how well the club had integrated into the community and how it was continuing to thrive.
Tony said it was great news for the bowls community as a whole.
“It’s a win win situation for both Ryman and our club. We have got 28 members who are also residents at Evelyn Page, and there’s more coming.
“And with the contract, Ryman can use the stadium for two tournaments a year so all the villages can have their tournament and not worry about the weather.”
At the launch, Ryman’s Community Relations Representative Steph Cawte, who cut the ribbon with Tony and Mark, said the project was proof of Ryman’s dedication to the local community in Orewa.
“There has been a strong and long-standing relationship between Orewa Bowls and Ryman Healthcare for more than 12 years when Tony, who worked for us at the time, established a relationship with this club,” she said.
“We have since been the number one sponsor of this club and we love being a part of this community.
“At Ryman, we are all about community, both within our villages and in our local communities, and when the opportunity arose to get this project over the line it was an easy decision and looking at it, it’s a fantastic addition to the club and surrounding community.”
Steph said the project tied in well with Ryman’s recent ‘Ryman Pioneers’ brand re-launch.
“We believe this truly reflects who we are and the people that live in our villages; people who retire to live their lives with purpose, energy and have more time for their hobbies and passions – like most of you here at Orewa Bowls!”