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Stroke survivor back in the game with bowls

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A stroke survivor from Llantrisant is just one of millions of people across Wales looking forward to getting back in the game as restrictions ease.

After more than 30 years of playing bowls, Alan Thompson, 74, hasn’t been on a bowling green since suffering a life-threatening stroke in 2018, which left him immobilised and in hospital for 14 weeks. More than three years on, Alan is hoping to get back to his local bowls club for the first time since his stroke.

After a slow road to recovery, Alan is now able to walk with just the assistance of a walking stick. It was at the beginning of this year that he felt was ready to be more active again and attempt to get back into bowls. With the national lockdown and sports clubs across Wales closed, the Stroke Association, in partnership with Bowls Wales, organised virtual bowls sessions for stroke survivors like Alan.

Having regained some of his physical strength and confidence following his life-threatening condition, Alan is now raring to get back to something he loves.

Alan Thompson playing bowls.
Alan Thompson playing bowls.


Alan said: “I’ve been playing bowls since the 80s, it was a huge part of my life and really was what kept me active. The last game I played was three years ago, the day before I had my stroke. I honestly didn’t think I’d ever be able to play bowls again, but playing virtual bowls helped me ease back into it and I’ve found my confidence again. I’ve done the rehearsal and now it’s time for the real performance out on the green.”

For people like Alan across Wales, getting back in the game helps reconnect with sport and the community around it. Getting active is not just good for physical health, but also the mental health benefits it can provide.

Our research suggests that more than half of adults in Wales miss the types of activity they were able to do before the pandemic began, while 60% of adults intend to increase the amount of physical activity and exercise they do as Wales comes out of lockdown. 

Alan Thompson holding a bowl.
Alan Thompson.


Enthused by how the easing of restrictions will open up sport to more people, Sarah Powell, the CEO of Sport Wales, said: “Throughout an incredibly testing period, the sporting family in Wales has shown great patience, acting both responsibly and creatively to help support healthy lifestyles during the pandemic. 

“The fact that reopening dates have been brought forward is testament to the dedication of the sport sector in ensuring a safe and covid-compliant return. We’re thrilled that it’s nearly time for everyone to get back in the game and enjoy the huge benefits of sport and physical activity.”

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