Sidmouth Herald published 29 May 2020
Christine Bowler and Jane Morrish, who were the last people to play before the Coronavirus pandemic lockdown, prepare to be the first to return to the lawns for action after the easing of lockdown restrictions. Picture: PHILIP HARRIS
Sidmouth Croquet Club reopened last week to the delight of the members, writes Philip Harris. After nine weeks of the club being closed due to the coronavirus pandemic lockdown restrictions, there was a rush of members booking lawns to play again. Indeed, such was the immediate demand that the lawns were almost fully booked for the whole of the first week ahead! All sessions were conducted observing the strict rules the club imposed to comply with Government and Croquet Association guidelines. These include regular sanitising of hands and washing the croquet balls between games.
What's more, currently only two lawns are open and only two players are allowed per lawn to ensure compliance with social distancing requirements (a good guide for this is that the social distancing represents two mallet lengths). It is also important that players do not touch croquet balls with their hand during a game. The clubhouse and croquet huts remain closed. Christine Bowler and Jane Morrish were the last two members to play on March 22 before the lockdown came into effect. Therefore the pair were very keen to be the first to play when play restarted, together
with Ed Dolphin and Duncan Hasell, who both did a lot of the preparation work prior to reopening. There are many forms of the game of croquet which easily allow social distancing. These are golf croquet, ricochet croquet, short croquet and association croquet with each requiring different skills and techniques. Sales of croquet sets have increased during lockdown as people are playing in their back gardens. The club, which currently had 76 paid-up members, is not accepting new members, but there will be Open Days staged as and when circumstances improve and there is more relaxing of restrictions.
Duncan Hasell and Ed Dolphin
Christine Bowler and Jane Morrish,