Aiming to be king of the jacks
- Credit: Archant
Teenager James Windsor became Devon Colts champion earlier this year and spoke to Resident about how he got involved in the sport.
An invitation to an open day at Axminster Bowls Club in 2014 has led 18-year-old James Windsor on to great things on the sporting front, with him claiming several titles since he took up the sport.
Childhood friend Steven Apsey, who was already a member, suggested James go along to the open day to try his hand at bowls and ever since, he’s been hooked.
The aim of the sport is to roll the bowl, which is not a perfect sphere and is better known as a ‘wood’, towards a small ball, known as the ‘jack’ or ‘kitty’ and to get it as close as possible.
Often seen as a pastime for older people, James said there are not many youngsters at the club, but said the age range of members goes from 15 to 90.
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He said: “At Axminster Bowls Club, there are three young people; myself, Steven and Chelsea Maher.
“We are the only three local youngsters but there are a solid team playing for the Devon Colts from all over Devon.
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“I got in to bowls through my friend Steven Apsey, who is the year above me and already played bowls.
“I have taken a few friends down to bowls since I’ve been hooked, and they love it too! I must say my most competitive friend Jess Lee was beginning to become better than me and as we are both very competitive it was great fun, so it’s incredible how this sport can be played by anyone!”
Over the years, James has spent many hours honing his skills in regular training sessions although, in more recent times, he says he has learned ‘on the job’ by competing in a range of matches and playing against as many different clubs and people as possible.
Such has been his dedication he has gone on to great things when it comes to titles, although it has not all been plain sailing.
James said: “I became the Devon Colts champion through many years of hard work and many losses.
“I had entered the tournament twice before but never got very far, but in the past few years, I entered more singles tournaments at my club and national under 25s competitions.
“In my club, I became men’s champion as well as winning three other titles. It’s through playing more, and with different people, that I gained the experience which helped me win despite losing at the start.”
James’s other successes include being captain for a game for the Devon Colts, three-time Axminster Indoor Thursday Triples Champion, Axminster Indoor 242 Pairs Champion with Steven, Axminster Outdoor Men’s Champion and Outdoor Mixed Pairs Champion.
A self-effacing young man, James does not claim that his success is all down to his own efforts and gives credit to two people for their help in nurturing his talent.
He said: “One is Steven Apsey, my mate who has helped my bowls development. It’s our close friendship, entwined with our passion for bowls and competitiveness to win that make us successful in this sport.
“Also being two of the youngest players, it’s nice to have a younger member to be with and beat most of the more experienced players.
“The other is Howard Keep. Howard over the years has told me many a story about his life all over the country, with many years of experience to share!
“Sat with a drink after the matches, he always makes everyone laugh as well as being an experienced player to learn from.”
James also thanked his mum who gave him a lot of encouragement, and drove him around the country to play matches in nationals and for Devon.
Away from the rinks, James has also developed an interest in amateur dramatics and is also interested in what is beneath his feet, being an enthusiastic detectorist.
James said: “Away from the rinks, my life is heavily involved with Axminster Drama Club, as well as spending countless hours in muddy fields metal detecting with my dad and grandad!
“My main successes have been at the Axe Valley Academy, where I was head boy with my close friend Jess Hill. Through this, we worked together to successfully run the prefect team, as well as helping my public speaking skills which meant I had the confidence to give talks to local history societies on metal detecting.
“I also became president of our Sixth Form’s Student Voice, where my main achievement was a charity Christmas meal for a local care home.
“Seeing their smiles made my Christmas!”
Despite his success on the rinks, James has said he will be stepping back from the sport for a while, with time at university lined up in the autumn, where he will be studying archaeology at Cardiff University.
But he said: “As I am off to university, I will be reducing the amount I play bowls, however, hopefully in a few years, I can take my level even further.”