INDOOR bowlers from the district are set to play a hands-on role in this year’s U25 World Championships.

Members of the former Tynedale Indoor Bowling Club were forced to find a new place to play in 2009, when the bowling green at Hexham’s Wentworth Leisure Centre closed.

More than 30 local bowlers joined the nearest indoor club, at West Denton, in the west end of Newcastle, so they could continue to play in regional and national competitions.

A decade on, and West Denton is preparing to host the World Championships, which will attract some of the best U25 players from across the globe.

Former Acomb resident and Wentworth bowler Sheila Storey is now an active committee member at West Denton, and is also vice-president of the International Indoor Bowls Council (IIBC).

Mrs Storey played a key role in the eight-rink facility at West Denton being selected as host venue for the tournament, which will take place in December 2019.

She said: “They needed a venue and I could not see any reason why not to have it at our club. I suggested it and it really is an honour that we have been chosen.”

Men and women players competing in singles, doubles, and mixed competition, will descend on West Denton. They will be supported by family and friends, coaches, physios, and other specialists.

Sheila added: “All the members are excited by the chance to showcase the fantastic facility we have, and indeed are keen to show players and their supporters some great North-East hospitality.”

Opened by Sir Bobby Robson in 2004, West Denton Indoor Bowls Club is funded by grants from Sport England, and now has over 300 members.

Experienced bowler Sheila, who has played the game to a high standard domestically, will be president of the IIBC when the tournament takes place in December.

She added: “Hosting the event is a great coup for the North-East, and I am proud of the way the club committee and members have embraced the challenge.”

Months of planning lie ahead, and Sheila is working to secure sponsorship for the event.

Now living in Gosforth, Sheila was a familiar face in the Tyne Valley for many years, and has fond memories of bowing at Wentworth.

Despite protests from bowlers, the facility closed after it was deemed unviable by Northumberland County Council.