Visit of the Duchess of Cornwall, 11 May 2009 to open the Box Parish Pavilion

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, demonstrating her new found skill and winning the admiration of many for her unpretentious willingness to join in (believed to be courtesy Chippenham News).

The Box Bowling Club was founded in February 1968 but events didn’t go well at first. The club joined a local league but had to withdraw for two seasons because of the poor condition of the green. By 1972 things had settled down and the club re-joined the league. The club built its original clubhouse in 1974 and was able to host county matches and member Harold Ebdon was elected president of the Wiltshire Bowls Association. The Short Mat Bowls Club was founded in 1993 with Keith Whelan as the founder chairman.

The history of the club and its premises altered dramatically in 2009 with the construction of a new stone building as a youth pavilion and sports changing facilities. The concept plans were designed and built by Ashford Associates at a cost reputed to have been £400,000. As befitted such a grand scheme it was planned to invite Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, to officially open the site on 27 March 2009. But all seemed lost when she was obliged to pull out at the last minute due to illness.

Remarkably, she re-arranged her royal schedules and agreed to perform the opening six weeks later on Monday 11 May 2009. Fortunately, this was a brilliant sunny day for the Duchess’ visit and a marvellous attendance was ensured by residents, cheering schoolchildren, civic dignitaries and sports representatives of the bowls, football and tennis clubs. The children lined the approach road, waving flags.

Following a welcoming speech by Box Parish Chairman, Frederick G Sheppard, the Duchess unveiled a commemorative plaque.The Duchess joined in with events and was invited to bowl on the green by club chairman Ian Collier. She accepted the challenge, quipping, I’ve never bowled before but I’ll have a go and she did.

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