In 1987 club member Denis Francois decided to introduce mercantile bowls to the Wairoa Bowling Club at a time membership numbers were falling and the resultant decline in revenue would put the future of the club in jeopardy.
Determined to engage the whole community and following a recruitment drive to get team entries and sponsorship for a number of prizes Denis was successful in attracting a tremendous entry of twenty four teams of fours to the first night with the greens hosting ninety-six players most of whom had not played bowls before and also were first time visitors to the club.
No entry fee was charged but this was compensated by a significant increase in bar revenue. Some club members expressed their initial opposition to mercantile bowls being played at the club but soon changed their tune when the club’s financial situation quickly improved.
Soon the club’s mercantile bowls was the talk of the town and the local newspaper the Wairoa Star published the weekly results from the start.
Personality teams appearing on the opening night included “Chalkies Mob” organised by one Cecil Forsyth which comprised two players in their eighties and two in their seventies as well as “Moggies Motel” with Sheryl White and Bruce Rogers who will hopefully celebrate thirty years of participation playing the 2017/2018 mercantile season.
Sixteen teams of triples have been entered thanks to the efforts of club members Glenda Kapene and Peter Robinson. The event is played on Wednesday nights over fifteen weeks with a break over the Christmas-New Year period. One game each night with two sets of five ends has proved popular with players as even though you may lose the first set you always have the second set to make amends.
Still a club member and continuing to play competitive bowls Denis Francois must have a sense of satisfaction that the club’s mercantile event is still going and many observers agree that without it the Wairoa Bowling Club would have had to close a number of years ago.
Thank you Denis for your vision and your input on behalf of the present club members and the wider Wairoa community.