A dedication to excellence and an unrelenting commitment to the sport have seen Anne and David Burrage honoured as the 2019-2020 Bowls New Zealand Summerset Awards umpires of the year.
It’s deserved recognition for the Wellington based duo, who have constantly impressed with their work ethic and passion for Bowls.
“It’s got to the point where I hesitate about picking up the phone to call them,” says Sue Way, Vice President of the Bowls Wellington Umpires Committee.
“I know no matter what the situation, where they are or even if it late notice they will invariably say yes and sometimes you feel a bit bad.
“In this position you create a list of people in terms of their competence and availability and Anne and David are always near the top of that list.”
The husband and wife duo qualified as level 1 umpires in June 2016, graduating to level 2 national umpires the following April.
“They have been wonderful assets to the sport,” says Way. “They love the people contact, watching great bowls, doing things for other people and making a difference. And they certainly have.”
Across the 2019-2020 season the Burrages umpired some big regional events, including the Wellington Open Fours and Triples and the Bowls Specialist mixed 242 pairs. They also officiated at the Clubs New Zealand national Fours.
“Our competitions are on multiple greens and there is a lot of responsibility,” says Way. “Umpires need to be on site an hour before the start of play and are still around after the last person leaves. There is a lot to do.”
The Burrages have also gone beyond the call of duty with their willingness to assist Bowls Wellington to train other umpires.
“It’s something they have done since they were first qualified, helping our trainer so much,” says Way. “They had a thirst for learning and passed that enthusiasm on to others.”
They usually attend every session of the six-week training modules and take a full role. Ann does the reaccreditation process, and both help with the training.
“They’ll be there early to put out all the equipment and get the stuff ready,” says Way. “Sometimes there might be 16 measuring exercises with at least two bowls involved in each. There is a lot to do. They’ll take a full role in the training, then put everything away again.”
Way has no doubt that their love for the sport has rubbed off on budding new umpires.
“They enjoy the social side and they complement each other so well,” says Way. “David can be very black and white, while Anne is kind and caring, but they are both great with people.”
The couple have relocated to the Kapiti Coast, which means round trips of up to two hours or more to attend training sessions or umpire events, but that hasn’t altered their devotion to their duties.
“Whenever you need an umpire, they are there,” says Way. “They’ll ask what time they should be there, and they are never late, even if it is a last-minute request, they will usually do it.”
The Burrages are also keen bowlers. They previously belonged to Tawa bowling club – and David was club secretary up until recently – but have joined Raumati Beach bowling club since their move north.
Their community contribution doesn’t stop with Bowls, as Way points out they have also been exam supervisors at University and NCEA level.
“They are retired and they like to serve,” says Way. “They are awesome people and live life to the full. With Anne and David, it is definitely two for the price of one.”