North Bay short mat stars home in on British Isles Championship success in Scarborough

A trio of local short mat bowls stars will fly the flag for England in this weekend’s British Isles Championships at Scarborough Indoor Bowls Club.

By Andy Bloomfield
Thursday, 27th January 2022, 7:55 am
From left, the North Bay aces Lawrence Moffat, Bronagh Toleman, and Lee Toleman who won Short Mat Bowls National Championships in Melton Mowbray last year, are representing England this week at the British Isles Championships at Scarborough Indoor Bowls Club

Bronagh Toleman and husband Lee, along with North Bay Short Mat Bowls Cluh teammate Lawrence Moffatt, earned the right to represent England when they won the triples title at the Short Mat Bowls National Championships in Melton Mowbray.

England Team Manager Stephen McAlister said: “We are looking forward to playing the British Isles Championships in Scarborough for the first time.

“It’s a great opportunity to broaden the appeal of our game, and play in front of a home crowd.

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“I am delighted that local players Bronagh Toleman, Lee Toleman and Lawrence Moffat are part of the team.

“Each is a very experienced player who has a successful record and I expect them to play a major role for England during the weekend - especially as they go for the British Isles Triples title having won the English title in September.

“It will be great for them to play in front of friends, inspire some to greater achievements and encourage some to become involved in the sport.”

Bronagh Toleman, 39, was born in Dundalk, Ireland, and moved to England in 2008 to take up her first PE teaching post at Scalby School.

She said: “I’ve been selected as skip for the first time in the team event so I’m very much looking forward to the tactical battle against some top quality opposition from the Irish, Scottish and Welsh.

“I’ve also been named England premier team captain so leading out the squad in my hometown club will be a very proud moment for me and my family.

“I really hope we can put in a good performance and come away with some silverware.

“I’m hoping for some local support from the people of Scarborough so please come along and enjoy a feast of top quality bowls!

Bronagh’s love of short mat bowls began thanks to her family.

She added: “My dad and uncle introduced me to short mat when I was aged 13.

“I started playing at Mullaghbawn in South Armagh before moving to play with St. Nicholas club in Dundalk and then St. Anthony’s Craigavon.

“Due to my competitive nature and love of sport I was instantly hooked. I made my England debut in 2011 at the British Isles Championships in Dumfries Scotland.

“We managed to win the team event for only the second time in England’s history on this occasion so it was a very special weekend.

“In my second season, I finished runner-up in the World Triples to Ireland.”

Bronagh’s biggest achievements in the sport include winning the ladies Interzone championship with Armagh in 2009, Northern England Singles winner 2010, National Pairs winner 2014, National Triples winner 2015 and 2021, British Isles Triples winner 2014 and St. Georges Cup winning North Captain 2017 and 2018.

Her husband Lee, 53, lived in Exeter, Devon, most of his life but moved to Scarborough with his wife six years ago.

He said: “I am really looking forward to playing in this weekend’s British Isles event in my hometown club North Bay and we all hope for some local support from the people of Scarborough.

“I was introduced to short mat bowls by my mum in 1999 who played in the local community centre in Wonford, Exeter. I enjoyed the game straight away and took to it quite quickly. After playing league bowls for several years and winning many county titles in Devon I trialled for England.”

Lee has won seven national titles (four triples, two pairs and a singles title), four British Isles titles (one pairs and three triples) and two world triples titles.

Fifty-six-year-old Lawrence Moffatt added: “I hope we get a lot of spectators coming along to watch at North Bay even if it’s just about curiosity.

“We’re hoping some that come along would like to come to our club night (Thursdays from 7pm)and try the game for themselves.

“I have lost count of many British Isles I have played, I’ve never managed to win one yet (runner-up in the singles seven or eight times) but I’m hoping it will happen at our home club.

“I started playing short mat in 1988 but only for six years and then got the bug again in 2000 and have enjoyed it ever since

“I was introduced to short mat by a friend who was running it at a social club in Dumfries and thought it was a very interesting game ,

“I went on to win many Scottish titles and since I moved to Scarborough four years ago , I have started playing for England and won my first English title playing with Lee and Bronagh Toleman.”

All are welcome to attend the action at Scarborough IBC this weekend.