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Lauren Finbow & Anne Noble 

Lauren Finbow looks back on her most successful season to date

Lauren Finbow enjoyed an incredible 2023/24 indoor season, qualifying to the EIBA National Finals in three disciplines and reaching the final of both the triples and fours. She also won three county titles.

"This is my first proper season playing with my Lakenheath teammate Anna Noble," Lauren said.
"I had actually given up bowls when me and my fiance Rhys moved back to Suffolk from Norfolk three years ago, but Anna managed to change my mind and persuade me to start playing again, and thank God she did!

"I was quite nervous about this season, with the unknown of coping with a newborn whilst trying to play bowls, but I have been incredibly lucky to have a very supportive family, teammates and opponents. I am extremely competitive so the goal is to try and win every game, but to get through to national finals in the pairs, triples and fours was just a dream! But to then get to the final in both the triples and the fours was another level of excitement."
Ruby Hill, Lauren Finbow & baby
Lauren says losing in both finals was "hard to take", adding: "In the triples, playing against my future sister-in-law Ruby, and friends Chelsea and Annie, all who I used to play with at my old club Spalding, was tough. However, now I look back and think considering I've had a baby part way through the season, it has been incredible! Me and Anna finished playing at Nottingham on the Friday evening, then had our county finals on the Saturday and Sunday, which I managed to win all three competitions that I was in. So overall, it's been my best season to date!"

Lauren starting bowling indoors when she was 11 years old, inspired by her father Carl Finbow, who'd been playing since he was a boy.
"I had always been around bowls so I decided to go to the Saturday roll up for juniors at my first club, Mid Suffolk, in Stowmarket and was hooked. The junior section at that time was thriving, so I made lots of friends through it. I then started playing team games like the Egham and Top Club from quite a young age and just loved playing against different people. I then started playing outdoors at the age of 13 and fell in love with both surfaces. I was competitive in everything I played and got such a thrill out of winning games at any level.

"My first success was at the age 14, when I won the Suffolk Under 18's Open Singles outdoors. It was my first county title, so it was always going to be a special one.

"The thing I love about bowls is the people. I have made so many friends through bowls, including meeting Rhys. I also love that it's a sport where I can be competitive. Playing with people of all different ages helped me grow as a player, but also as a person. The sport has helped me build friendships with people, and these friendships have brought me back to playing the sport. It's also a great talking point in job interviews, as it stands out on my CV!"

Aside from this indoor season, Lauren lists her bowls highlights as reaching the county final of the champion of champions last year.

She recalled: "It was one of the hottest days of summer and I was about six months pregnant. My opponent started off strong and I was struggling, so I went 17 - 4 down. But I managed to turn it around and win 21 - 19. The message is never give up!
"Getting through to Worthing in the National Mixed Fours, with my dad Carl Finbow, Stuart Gaught and Janet Howe about 15 years ago was another great achievement- we beat some really strong teams to get to the finals, and I loved playing with my dad, so for us to get through to nationals was very exciting! All these years later, I now play at the same club as Janet and Stu outdoors, with Janet being the person who persuaded me to join my now outdoor club, Newmarket Avenue."

What keeps Lauren motivated?
Lauren Finbow with trophies
"I am very competitive and an all-or-nothing kind of girl," she said. "When I decided to come back to bowls after Covid (season 2022/2023) I had left it too late to enter any county or national competitions, as I was nervous about committing to too much. Luckily a space became available in Anna Noble's rink so I subbed in and we won a couple of games but unfortunately didn't make it to national finals. Fast forward to this season, and my motivation is Jasper. Every time I step on the bowls green, is time that I could be spending with him, but instead of dwelling on that, I turn it into a positive, knowing that if I win games, I am hopefully making him proud. So now every time I play a game, I think of Jasper on the sidelines, cheering me on.

"Juggling bowls and motherhood hasn't been easy. I have been incredibly lucky as Rhys has been so supportive and I do think it helps that he is also a bowler, so understands why I want to play and the demands that the sport brings.

"I remember going to play my first national competition after having Jasper (and this was the first time I had left him for anything).

"Rhys and Jasper stayed at home as it was an evening game. I left it until the last moment to leave, and sobbed my heart out in the car, as I found it so difficult to leave. But as soon as I was on the bowls green, that was my time to focus, play well for me and my teammates, and of course make Jasper proud. That's what has kept me going.

"I'm also breastfeeding, so that has also been a huge learning curve with how to manage that and play long bowls games. For example, during the national finals, I had to play a game, then either feed Jasper in the break or express to make sure Jasper had enough milk, and then try have a bit of a break myself. Adding a baby into the mix when playing multiple bowls games in a day was interesting to say the least, and incredibly busy, but now I look back and think 'Wow, we did it!'"

Lauren's dream is to win a national title and to represent England.
"Getting so close this year has been brilliant, and has made me even more determined to get that chance again," she said.
"One thing I'd like to see is all clubs being inclusive of juniors. Bowls is a sport that can be played at all ages, which to me is what makes it pretty special!"

Sian Honnor.

We'd love to know what bowls means to you, get in touch at info@eiba.co.uk

Previous Article - Interview with EIBA Outgoing President, Steve Boughton

June 2024

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