It’s a lot easier to interview (and write stories) about recipients of New Year’s Honours.
That’s because they’ve done lots of stuff (after all, that’s why they’ve received a shout out).
Carrell Knight is no different. Although Carrell this year received her Queen’s Service Medal for her contributions to lawn bowls, she has served the community in heaps of other ways. Here at bowls, we’ve just been fortunate to grab a bit of her attention.
Carrell introduced herself to the world in Palmerston North in 1942.
She started her working career in Telegrams in the Post Office in Palmerston North. Then in 1964, she joined the New Zealand Police, shipping down to an army camp in the Upper Hutt for training, well before the Police Training College at Trentham had been thought of. Carrell became female police recruit #205 in New Zealand. There were only 7 women stationed in Wellington.
“It was not a difficult time,” says Carrell. “We were well-respected and well-treated. If we ever got into an altercation, the public would come to our aid. It wasn’t considered right to fight with a woman. Even a policewoman.”
It was still 6 o’clock closing in New Zealand … that was the law. Women, including policewomen, weren’t allowed in public bars. That wasn’t the law, just the expected practice … even amongst many of her male police colleagues. Presumably public bars were a place where men could be men, and drink and cuss out of earshot and eyeshot of women.
Things began to change in 1966. “We were issued with batons,” recalls Carrell. “Not the batons that uniformed policemen had, but little batons – more like a cosh – which presumably we could wield in a more ladylike manner. We still had to wear skirts. And tunics. And black stockings. Although when I became a detective in the CIB, we wore plain clothes.”
Carrell left the Police and re-joined the Post Office, while her husband, Bob, took over managing the Shamrock Hotel in Wellington, and shortly after the Duke of Edinburgh. Bob left the hotel game in 1971, and joined Daily Freightways.
When the Telegram Service was closed by New Zealand Post in 1989, she joined Bob at Daily Freightways. “Unfortunately, that ended when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1990,” says Carrell.
Meantime, Carrell had started playing bowls. “I was always going to play golf,” she says. “But when Lyall Bay set up a women’s section in 1984, Bob insisted I join. 11 of us joined, and only two had ever played bowls before. We became skips from day one!”
But it was also the year that the Lyall Bay Bowling Club green was inadvertently poisoned. “It was sprayed with weedkiller by well-meaning volunteers after the wrong product was delivered by the suppliers.”
There was a huge panic. I can remember them taking plugs from the green to see how far the spray had penetrated. They found that radishes would eventually grow (That was the test!) at a depth of four inches. So diggers came in and scraped the top four inches off.”
Next year, the Lyall Bay green and Women’s Section were ready to start again. “The Wellington Women’s Centre insisted that we were no longer first year bowlers,” laughs Carrell. “Even though we hadn’t played any bowls. But the New Zealand Women’s Bowling Association saw sense … and we could celebrate our inaugural year.”
Like Carrell had found in the Police, the dress code in bowls was still very strict for women. The women’s frocks had to be no more and no less than 16 inches from the ground. No earrings were allowed, just a stud. A women’s blouse had to have sleeves and a collar. Necklaces were verboten.
But Carrell became a committed bowler and bowling administrator. She became President of Lyall Bay, and when she and Bob went to live at Waitarere Beach, she became involved in the Waitarere Beach Bowling Club, the tennis club (18 years), the Waitarere Beach Ratepayers’ Association (12 years) and Secretary of the Levin Cancer Support Group (10 years).
In 1996 Carrell joined the Levin Bowling Club, eventually serving a term as Vice-President. In 2004, when Bob and Carrell moved to ‘town’, she became a member of the Levin Women’s Bowling Club where she has been President since 2009 and Secretary since 2011.
“We’re located in the Levin Garden of Remembrance,” notes Carrell, “so Levin Women’s is one of the few clubs in the country that are ‘dry’. It’s something the club members don’t even think about.”
As well as President of Levin Women’s, Carrell has been a fixture at the Kapiti Coast Bowling Centre … President of the Kapiti Coast Women’s Centre prior to amalgamation in 1997; executive member of the amalgamated centre; centre tournament convenor (17 years); and eventually Vice-President, President, Board Member, Life Member and Patron of the Centre.
Carrell hasn’t been scared to get involved in lawn bowls nationally as well.
She was a member of the Bowls New Zealand Council from 1996 to 2003; a member of the Bowls New Zealand Game Development Committee from 2005 to 2007; and a member of the Bowls New Zealand Advisory Council for five years.
Even having done all that stuff, Carrell still plans to be doing heaps more. And in particular her investiture. “I’m looking forward to going down to Government House in Wellington in May to pick up my QSM,” she says, “Bob would have loved to have been there.”
Congratulations, Carrell, we’re all very proud of you.
by Rob Davis