Congratulations to former CP Sport employee Margaret Smith, who has been awarded an MBE.
Margaret, who has been involved in disability bowls for more than 25 years has had significant and influential roles that have had worldwide impact.
During her employment at CP Sport Margaret covered all sports and activities but also carried out a number of voluntary roles in the sport of bowls from running training sessions to organising major competitions and travelling with teams to events internationally.
In 1995 Margaret was the coach and escort to the GB Team at the IPC World Championships, Aylesbury, England. One of the squad members became World Champion and in 1996 she was the team manager to the Paralympic GB Bowls Team at the Atlanta Paralympic Games. The team took 6 out of 7 medals. In 1997 Margaret become appointed CPISRA Bowls Co-ordinator and Bowls Co-ordinator, British Paralympic Association Bowls Committee and continued to work with teams on an international level at commonwealth Games and Paralympic Games.
In 2000 Margaret produced the World Class Performance Plan on behalf of disability bowls as part of a successful bid by the English Bowling Association for Lottery Funding from Sport England. She initiated combined training sessions of cerebral palsy bowlers and other disability groups.
In 2004 Margaret was an elected member of Executive of Disability World Bowls formed in Malaysia in 2004. She was a working group member for devising a newly defined structure of classification, a sports specific classification system consisting of eight classification groups. In 2005 she became Executive member of Disability Bowls England (formed to unify and represent bowlers from all impairment groups).
Between 2009 and present day Margaret has been an active member within the international movement and also current Member of IBD and Executive Member of Disability Bowls England.
Margaret says her greatest achievements include seeing bowlers with disability integrated into and accepted by clubs both indoors and out.
She said: “For many years this wasn’t the case.
“Another great moment was being part of the support/coach team for the GB Bowls Squad in the Paralympic Games in Atlanta in 1996. We brought back six of the seven Gold medals, three silver and two bronze.
“Sadly, when the team went out there to compete we knew this would be the last time bowls would be included in the Paralympics.”
In England, she has been responsible for getting the different disability specific sports groups to bring together their bowls squads to form Disability Bowls England, initially for communication, training and competition purposes both at a domestic and international level.
Margaret said: “There have been many things I have done which I would never would have imagined I would do when I first started out. I am not an academic person but, I am a ‘DOER’ and bowlers used to say to me , ‘We have never done’ whatever and I would reply, ‘okay, let’s do it’ and that’s always been my philosophy ‘ If it’s needed and not happening , then make it happen.’”
Margaret has always loved sport, competing in netball and athletics at school while her husband loved cricket, before taking up Bowls after a knee injury and became an integral part of the history of Gedling IBC.
“A couple of years after that I noticed a group of bowlers with cerebral palsy playing and offered to help push wheelchairs etc. “At that time, we had to put sheets of hardboard down for the wheelchairs to stand on whilst they delivered the bowls, there were no ‘special’ bowling chairs with broad wheels.
“We had to take the bowlers off the green, wheel along the side and then back on to the boards at the other end.
“This group used to come to Gedling three or four times a year to get together as CP Sport main office was based in Nottingham and all of the sports groups would come along to train, athletics, football, boccia, swimming and bowls.
“This was the beginning for me!
“Bowls is the most inclusive sport that I can think of. Anyone can play.
“You can compete with and against anyone irrelevant of age, gender and disability, you can play at any level depending on your ability. It’s a great social pastime and played by usually, lovely people!
“Bowls is good for mind and body and social interaction.
“The fact that disability bowls is seen to be worthy of such an award as this should endorse this as a ‘Sport for All’ and hopefully, bowls participation will grow.
Disability Bowls England adopted Gedling as their home ground.
Bob Love, who put in the application for the MBE for Margaret, said: “Maggy has been organiser, fundraiser and administrator for many competitions regionally, nationally and internationally.
“She fights hard to ensure that opportunities exist for all, irrespective of impairment, individual circumstances and backgrounds and she will never settle for second best. She is one of the most respected people and this award is proof of her never ending commitment to this great sport of ours.”