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Going for the century

Weeks spent in rehab and transferring hospitals couldn’t deter Les Gilbert from a return to the bowling green.

Six weeks after breaking his hip, the 96-year-old returned to Encounter Bay Bowls club, victorious in a Valentine’s Day game of social bowls.

Injured after a fall on Christmas Day, Les, in pain said he immediately thought of bowls.

“My first thought when I broke my hip was how quickly can I get back?” he said.

After his wife passed away, Les searched for activities to occupy himself. A WWII RAAF veteran he took up gliding at his local “aero club”, being the oldest pupil there but also discovered lawn bowls along the way.

Unfortunately, health issues took him away from gliding but an unbridled passion for bowls remained, playing social bowls twice a week.

Even away from the green, he invented a way to play at home, bowling across the carpet.

“I practice at home, corner to corner in my lounge room,” he said

“I’ve got cushions piled up in one corner and set up a small rink.”

Though his injury has got him feeling more his age than ever before the well-wishes and support form the club he received during his absence was special.

“The members of the club are wonderful,” he said.

“It’s a sort of second to none experience to have that comradeship.”

Encounter Bay Bowls Club President, Heather Cochrane said that supporting Les during his recovery was the least they could do after all he’s given to them.

“He’s an icon in this club,” she said.

Even when he needed a frame to walk Les told her that, “I won’t be needing this soon.”

“He loves to bowl and he will not give up,” Heather said.

Les may be a bit a slower walking up and down the green these days but his days of playing the sport he loves is far from over.

“I hope to keep bowling until I hit a century,” he said.

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