Sidmouth short mat bowler Andy Thompson in world top 100 – despite being registered blind

PUBLISHED: 19:39 24 November 2017 | UPDATED: 10:20 25 November 2017

Sidmouth short mat bowler Andy Thompson in action

Sidmouth short mat bowler Andy Thompson in action


Sidmouth resident Andy Thompson is not letting disability hold back his ambition of getting as high as he can in his chosen sport.

Sidmouth short mat bowler Andy Thompson Sidmouth short mat bowler Andy Thompson

Andy was registered as blind back in 1996 and spent a spell at RNIB College Loughborough where they do such fantastic work, offering specialist support to young people and adults with vision impairment and additional disabilities.

It was after his time at the college that Andy decided to have a go at ten pin bowling and, when back at his East Devon home he got a group together of other blind and partially sited folk to play ten pin bowling in Exeter.

It was during one of the ten pin bowling sessions that he learnt of another similar sport – short mat bowling.

Andy says: “I had not heard of the sport of short mat bowling, but enjoyed the ten pin action and decided to see if I could take up another sport.”

Well, take to it he most certainly did for now, in 2017, Andy is currently ranked 88th in the world and is the only registered blind person playing at the top level of the sport!

Andy plays on a regular basis in international competitions and recently retuned from one in Norway at which he was the runner-up in the Plate final, beaten 10-4 by world number 21, Sweden’s Jorgen Karllson.

Andy says of his Plate final defeat: “I chose a bad time to play some of my poorest bowls of the competition, but was delighted to get as far as I did.”

He continued: “The mats I had been playing on prior to the Norwegian tournament were of the ‘fast’ and ‘swingy’ variety, but in Norway they were much straighter and slower.

Next up for Andy is a December tournament in Chelmsford and then, early next year he will be in action at the British Masters being held at York in January and there’s one competition left in the current season and that is taking place in Belfast, Northern Ireland

He practises two or three times a week and plays locally in the East Devon Short Mat Bowls League as a member of the Sidbury team and also represents Devon in county competitions.

One area in which Andy really needs some help is via sponsorship to help him get to the tournaments and pay for accommodation while taking part in them.

He says: “I have been very fortunate in the recent past to get terrific support from the likes of Sidmouth Consolidated Charities and East Devon Associattes, without whom I would not have been able to climb the rankings in terms of the Short Mat Players Tour.”

He continued: “I am currently on ESA and DLA benefits and would dearly love to play in tournaments in 2018. Towards that end I do need to find sponsors and backers. I would be more than happy to provide a breakdown of the costs incur to anyone who might be in a position to help me.”

Hopefully someone reading this article will be able to help Andy and he would dearly love to hear from anyone who can offer any form of assistance.

He can be contacted by telephone at 01395 513500 or via email at

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