Playing bowls after heart surgery: Steve's story
Steve Bacon has played bowls for years, and returning to the sport he loves helped him increase his fitness after heart surgery.
Steve, 56, has played bowls since he was in his twenties, with only a short break when he needed heart surgery.
"It's a game that can be played by everyone and you can find your own level," he says. You can play on a casual basis or in clubs or teams with more competition."
When Steve turned 40, he found out he needed quadruple heart bypass surgery.
Strength through socialising
"The friendship of the people from the club [Syston Bowling Club] was great," he says. "They would ring me up or pop round to keep me company. The bowling club is almost an extended family."
The best bowling clubs are where it becomes part of the community
Steve is now Development Officer at Bowls Leicestershire and plays at least three times per week at Birstall BC. He says the friendly nature of the sport has been a real draw. "There's a social side and camaraderie between members," he says.
"Entertainment gets put on. A lot of clubs have coffee mornings and quizzes; some clubs even have an indoor skittles alley. It is really good. We try to get local people involved. The best bowling clubs are where it becomes part of the community".
There are more than 2,500 bowling clubs like Steve's across England.
Back on the bowling green
Bowls also provided motivation for Steve during his recovery. "When you have heart problems you have to set yourself small goals," he says. "Getting back on the bowling green was one of my targets. And in the meantime, going down to the club and seeing people would keep my spirits up."
Once he got the go-ahead to go back to bowls, the regular activity helped Steve increase his fitness levels. "It is a good low level of activity," he says. "It occupies the mind and keeps the body ticking over, which is vital as people get older."