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Lower Darwen Bowling club celebrates member's 99th birthday
A BOWLING fanatic has celebrated his 99th birthday – and his 86th year at the bowling club he helped to build.
Edward ‘Ned’ Longworth was 11 when he first helped wheel soil to level the ground at Lower Darwen URC Bowling Club in 1927.
Now he has celebrated his birthday surrounded by friends as a competition and tea was held in his honour.
Ned was born in Lower Darwen in 1914 and, except an unhappy year’s stay in Manchester and a spell in the army, he has lived there all his life.
He said: “Nobody knows more about Lower Darwen than me and everybody here knows me.”
Ned served his time in the Army during the Second World War and was near Hanover when the Germans surrendered. He was tasked with looking after the prisoners of war.
He said: “They would beg, even for salt, but you couldn’t show any weakness or they would pounce. I had to pretend to be cruel so I picked out the biggest, toughest prisoner and stuck my rifle in his chest.
“I said, ‘anybody steps out of line and I’ll shoot you’. I had bluffed but he didn’t call it.”
Ned left the Army a sergeant and ended up working as a salesman, a job he described as ‘like being on holiday’.
He never missed a day’s work and retired 31 years ago at 68.
But it’s his sporting achievements that remain the source of Ned’s pride.
The Rovers fan played amateur football until he was 45, ran competitively until he was 49, played cricket until he was 53 and bowled competitively until he was 90. He only retired from casual bowling because of a cataract operation six months before his 97th birthday.
Ned said: “I was first team captain and voluntary greenkeeper for nearly 30 years, treasurer for 50 years and I’ve been president for 10 years.”
He has won the R H Eccles Cup eight times and the W Walton Trophy five times.
Club member Glenys Colling said: “He’s a funny chap and loves to tell jokes. He is bright as a button.
The members took part in a round robin competition and a tea was held in honour of his birthday.
“He donated the prizes for the winner and runner-up.”
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