We learned on January 18th of the passing of one of youth bowling’s biggest supporters, Pat Harries.
Pat will be remembered by many having dedicated so much of her time supporting and helping English youth bowling, including Tolworth and Airport Youth Bowling Clubs, as secretary of the National Association of Youth Bowling Clubs and shaping the Inter-County Championships.
Eric Harvey, Fran Dee, Martin Webster and Lisa John have put into writing some of their memories to share with us:
Eric Harvey, Personal Friend
“Well where do I start?
The first time I met Pat was at Airport Bowl when Jo was 10 / 11 years old, we were there for a Junior Gt Britain Trial for girls. From then on, our paths crossed quite often due to Jo and Nikki training & playing for Junior Team Gt Britain / England.
I didn’t really get to know Pat until I became Chairman of the NAYBC and Pat was already established as secretary. Although she held down a fulltime job and looked after the family (as Brian was abroad quite a lot working) she always made time for the NAYBC. We calculated that on average she put in somewhere between 20 – 30 hours per week doing NAYBC business.
Back in the late 1990’s pre-emails and the like, she had a photocopier and fax machine at home (how posh). Talking about posh, the first time Lin recalls meeting Pat she was sitting at the bar with a gin & tonic, wearing all her bling. At times she even wore gold shoes, they were ‘flatties’ as she was on her feet all day. Some thought she was like Lady Penelope; I think it was the other way around and the Thunderbirds character was based on her. All Pat needed was Parker to drive her Celica and it would have been complete. Mainly she was known as Auntie Pat and was one of the few people that could keep Neil Webb in order.
Life was never dull with Pat, most of my memories are not for print but here are a couple that come to mind.
At one Junior Nationals Pat had printed off what seemed to be 100’s of certificates, she handed them to me at the tournament and said they needed signing by the next day. I stayed up most of the night to complete the task. A week later I purchased named rubber stamps.
Once when visiting me at home, after popping out onto the decking for a smoke she came back in and walked into the glass patio doors, although very funny there was no way I would laugh and face the wrath of Pat.
I don’t know if she ever twigged, but every correspondence I wrote I used to get Pat to approve. I told her it was to double check we kept within the rules but the truth was, it always returned with the correct spelling and punctuation.
She was passionate, focused and principled in everything she did, in fact it was due to her principles that we resigned from the NAYBC, but that’s another story.
At Lincoln Bowl, I was honoured to present Pat with a Certificate to celebrate her valued contributions to the NAYBC. As always, she accepted it with grace and I know it meant a lot to her.
Pat especially loved junior bowling at all levels and on taking over the Inter County Championships she made it her own.
A great personality, great secretary and a great friend.
Fran Dee, BTBA Life Member
“Very sad news. Pat was a very dedicated member of the NAYBC. for about 40 years I think. I first met her at the Junior Scratch Bowlers Club in Streatham which was run by Pat & Bob Blaber, and Pat brought her two children Jo and Richard there for the tournaments. She was very involved with the Tolworth YBC, and eventually moved to the Airport Bowl where she became Secretary.
Not sure when she became involved with the NAYBC, but she was secretary after me under the chairmanship of Brian Taylor, Bernie Caterer and Joe Barnes. Pat was very enthusiastic and dedicated to all the juniors. She once drove all the way to Aberdeen with the England Team to the Triple Crown. She also attended a few European Championships with Jo (now Jo Cundy), and really cared for our Junior Programme.
She always attended the National Championships and ran a raffle which boosted our funds to over a thousand pounds each year. In those days we had over 2000 juniors attending the Nationals with Alan Jones doing the squadding. Brian Wright was the tournament manager (with his yellow trousers). Pat worked very hard for junior bowling and put all her energy into everything she did for he juniors.
When she decided to move to Spain, it was a great loss to the NAYBC. We send our condolences to the family, and assure you she will be remembered by all who knew her with great fondness and love.”
Martin Webster, BTBA Chairman
“As a junior, I got involved with Pat in numerous tournaments competing against many other younger bowlers and Pat was fantastic in the way she handled and looked after all of us over the years. She was encouraging and motivational and many youngsters went on to achieve Team England status at all levels winning medals for their countries.
We will all miss Pat very much and I would like to say a big thank you on behalf of the BTBA for all the time and dedication that you have given us over the years.”
Lisa John, BTBA Vice Chairman
“Pat taught me so many things when I was a junior, especially the importance of wearing white socks. She had a keen eye for these things and always made sure we were well turned out. Pat was a huge part of junior bowling when I was playing and if she wasn’t at an event, it wasn’t worth being there. She had such presence in the bowling centre and her laugh was infectious. One of the best things Pat did for me was introduce me to her daughter, Jo. Jo would go on to be a huge influence on my bowling career and I know she will be a lifelong friend, as Pat was.
Rest in Peace Pat. We will keep up the good work and continue to do the best that we can do, as you always did. You will be missed by all who knew you.”