Centenarian bowler invited to make world record bid


A SCOTS lawn bowler who turned 100 this week has been invited by the Guinness World Records to apply for the title of ‘world’s oldest bowler’.

John Wishart celebrated his century milestone at his sheltered housing home in Fife on Monday, and despite his poor eyesight, still makes it to his local bowling club at least once a week.

He is Scotland’s oldest-known bowls player and a spokeswoman for the world records keeper says he could be in with a shot of being named the world’s oldest.

John, who is a member of Hogan’s Heroes rink at Headwell Bowling Club in Dunfermline, says he can remember a time when the top prize was a “steak pie or half a pound of butter”.

He said: “I started bowling in 1952, some friends got me into it.

“My friends pick me up at half past one on a Thursday every week and take me down.

“There’s usually about eight of us.

“I’m the only original one left in the group. It’s a shame more young people don’t join in. I’ll never give it up.”

Fellow member of Hogan’s Heroes, Harry Slaughter said: “His memory is amazing. He is a marvellous man.

“The rink started in 1978, and John was an original member, the only one left.

“He struggles with his eyes but we tell him where the jack is, whether it’s short, medium or long and he plays from memory.

“He loves to play for fun and friendship.”

The current record holder is Leslie Brittan, from Blackheath in London, who turned 106 last month.

She is described as a “life long bowler” and was the club president of Woolwich and Plumstead Bowling Club when he was in his centenary year.

But – the top spot could have opened up – as a spokeswoman for Guinness World Records said they have been unable to contact Mrs Leslie or her family to confirm if she still plays.
She said: “Therefore I would suggest Mr Wishart or his family make a formal application for the title (evidence will be required).

“As we only monitor world records we wouldn’t be able to confirm him as Scotland’s oldest but possibly could take the world title.”

Colin Hutchison, club development officer of Bowls Scotland, the country’s bowling association, said they do not keep a record of ages of players, but thinks it is likely John is the oldest.

He said: “I’ve heard of players who still bowl in their 90s before but I can’t think of anyone still playing when they reach that age.”

Non-smoking and non-drinking John started playing bowls in the Fife village of Townhill and said he “always had a great time”.

He said: “The prize was a steak pie or half a pound of butter.”

John said the secret to a long, happy life is keeping a positive attitude.

“I feel no bad for my age. Just take everything as it comes and do as much as you can to help others.

“If you make mistakes – and I make lots nowadays – you just have to say to yourself, ‘you silly old man’.”

John served during the Second World War with the Royal Corps of Signals, stationed in Wiltshire. The former grocer ended his career as the manager of a Co-op in Fife.

He was married to Betsy, who died aged 76, and has two children, five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Fiona Selfridge, resource manager at Grants Bank sheltered housing, said: “Before he moved in the first thing he asked me was whether or not he could play bowls. I assured him it would be fine.

“He’s very keen and such a character.”

She added: “On Sunday, the night before John’s birthday, we had around 60 people in the main dining hall for a celebration.

“And on Monday everyone had a chippy tea and John’s telegram from the Queen was read out to him. All of his family was here.”