Latest Ryman news

Helen Guthrie lives in a corner of bowlers’ paradise

Written by Alan Wood
on April 30, 2024

A group of Charles Fleming Retirement Village residents, including one of the first residents, Helen Guthrie, refer to their portion of the village affectionately as the ‘bowlers’ corner’.

The tight-knit Charles Fleming group is now of course looking forward to the regional lawn bowls competition stage of the Ryman Roll-up intervillage event.

These games, held in Wellington, Auckland, Christchurch and Melbourne, will take place on late April and early May to provide residents a chance to pit their skills against each other.

A couple of years after moving into her Charles Fleming townhouse in April 2013, Helen Guthrie took up bowls and quickly started making new friends.

Now, she happily reports that her part of the village seems to be more and more populated with those who love the game of lawn bowls.

The team includes skip Gaylene Nicol, Bruce McSkimming, Barry Sutton and herself taking the lead role, Helen says. The team reserves are Margaret Kerridge and Rex Sleeman.

C F Team

There are also others she has got to know within the wider Kapiti Coast bowling fraternity, who have moved into the village. Those in townhouses nearby include Gaylene and Margaret.

“We all live within a few houses of each other... and there’s another one coming in next door to me... Barry -- he’s a bowler from Otaki so we call it bowlers’ corner. Bruce is a bit further away. He’s round the other side of the village.”

Rex’s wife Dianne is another keen village bowler, Helen adds.

Bowls has certainly given her a chance to form new friendships.

“I mean I haven’t been bowling for very long but once you start you sort of get hooked ...,” she says.

“We all, and a few of the golfers as well, meet on a Sunday night and have a drink and a bar meal over in the village centre there. There can be about 15 of us sometimes – we make a lot of noise, but we have a lot of laughs. It’s nice to be with all these people.”

The Charles Fleming activities team members are also very supportive, she says. Helen praises the Charles Fleming activities team, including a van driver, for always being good sports to ensure regional competitions run smoothly.

Her roll-ups on the turf – has added to a life filled with interests, and another string to her bow. In 2018, she was awarded a Queen's Service Medal for services to music and horticulture.

As well as playing for the village, Helen has been for a number of years been involved with the large Bowls Waikanae club, where competition has helped her improve her playing. She is on the club’s executive committee, and has done a significant amount of work seeking grants and helps publish the handbook.

Of course, she knows some of the players she comes up against.

“Gaylene Nicol... has been bowling since 2012 and has been a resident of Charles Fleming for eight years. She has won numerous club and open championships. In fact, last year we ended up playing each other in the finals of the club championship singles and I won on the last end!”

The games within the Kapiti area take in clubs from Waitārere down to Paekākāriki.

Helen says continued love of music, tending to roses and flowers and keeping up with her family and pet border collie, Meg, are just some of her interests. Music, in particular, has led to significant achievements and recognition.

She studied violin from the age of nine, and for two years attended the Royal Academy of Music in London, before returning to New Zealand in 1960 to become a professional musician and teacher of violin with what is now known as Orchestra Wellington for about 30 years, also playing with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

She was a member of the Waikanae Music Society committee for 35 years from 1984. Helen has used her own garden flowers and flair for design to help decorate concert stages.

She says the discipline of learning and playing music may well have flowed through in a positive way to her concentration on the bowls green. She is excited about the upcoming competition.

About Ryman Healthcare:

Ryman was founded in 1984 and has become one of New Zealand’s largest listed companies. The company owns and operates 45 retirement villages in New Zealand and Australia which are home to more than 13,900 residents and the company employs 6,800 team members.

Media advisory: For further information, photos, interviews or comment please contact Group Corporate Affairs Manager Silke Marsh on +64 27 294 3609 or Communications Advisor Maryvonne Gray on 027 552 0767.

You may also like: