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BOWLS: Annette Hallett will never be forgotten, Frank Gwatkin
5:00pm Friday 27th September 2013 in Sport
Long-time friend and fellow club member Frank Gwatkin pays tribute to the late Annette Hallett
THE world of bowls has been saddened by the untimely death of Dorchester star bowler Annette Hallett, at the age of 62, after a long and brave battle against cancer.
Hallett took up the sport in 1986 and during her 27-year career accumulated an enviable record of trophies.
At club level, she landed the ladies’ singles championship on no less than 16 occasions and figured in numerous domestic competition finals.
A bowler with an outstanding array of skilful shots, coupled with an ideal temperament, she soon began to appear for Dorset County – both indoor and outdoor – and gained distinction in both the Johns and the Atherley teams.
In 2001, alongside club members Vicki Whitty, Ros Gwatkin and Sue Jennings, she gained a runner-up spot in the National Fours finals.
Although not bowling outdoors in recent years, she continued to dominate the domestic indoor scene and bettered her 1995 achievement of finishing runner-up to legendary international Norma Shaw in the National Champion of Champions by gaining the coveted title outright herself in 2009, defeating Jamie Lee Winch of Rugby Bowls Club in the final.
In regular appearances at national finals Hallett completed playing in all of the big four events when in 2010 she reaching the final of the National Singles, losing narrowly to Gillian Cliff of Bromsgrove Bowls Club.
As a lead bowler, her hallmark was the drawing shot which she consistently executed with unerring skill, often leaving onlookers shaking their heads in wonder.
As a skip, Hallett again relied on her ability to rescue a bad situation by finishing closer to the jack than her opponent. She saw it as a philosophy of sheer simplicity.
In 2009, she skipped her Dorset rink in the Atherley Trophy final to a 28-13 win against Norfolk as the county gained their first National Team Championship.
Despite having to battle off the greens with her illness, she displayed a determination to succeed and carry on with her great passion for bowls.
It was, in many ways, both poignant and very fitting that 2012-13 – her final season in bowls – was a triumph across the board as she was listed 38th in the top 100 women bowlers in England.
Hallett retained her club ladies’ singles title and skipped a club rink to win the county knockout cup for Dorchester.
The county ladies’ singles title was another first-time triumph, and for the second time in five years she was back giving an outstanding performance in the final of the Atherley Trophy, which Dorset won again, this time against Cambridgeshire.
On the national scene, it was qualification in both the pairs and triples and on March 10 of this year came the realisation of her bowling ambition as she stepped onto the green as an England player in the showdown against rivals Scotland.
With Dorset team-mate and fellow international Julie Leake in the same rink, Hallett took to her task with assurance and performed like a veteran.
The rink skipped by Wendy King won 30-7 as England convincingly took the Home International title for the fifth year in a row.
Recalling the occasion, England team manager Edna Bessell said: “Annette went out there and enjoyed every minute of the game, supporting and encouraging her rink very well throughout and she showed how pleased she was to be representing her country.”
Bessell added: “Annette was not only a very good bowler, she was also a very nice person.”
No-one was prouder on that occasion than Hallett’s husband Phil, who was her number one supporter, and had travelled all over the country sharing in her major triumphs over an illustrious career that will be hard to equal, but will be long remembered.
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