Listen and learn is George’s motto

UK outdoor bowls champion George Gourlay
UK outdoor bowls champion George Gourlay

Bowling was never something George Gourlay could see himself playing while he worked for the parks department at Falkirk district council.

And he has still never seen himself play - because it was only when the Grangemouth man lost his eyesight he began a career in the sport.

Now, 14 years on since he went blind, trophies for the Scottish Indoor championships and two Scottish titles now sit on view to all visitors to his Grangemouth home.

He’s even visited Australia thanks to the sport he freely admits he was never interested in.

“After losing my eyesight my wife Evelyn encouraged me to go to Forth Valley blind club and I had a shot there - and I caught the bug.

“I’d often driven past people out playing during the summer but had never done it myself - now, I love it.”

However, in a sport based around throwuing a bowl to a specific target - being unable to see the intended spot should pose a difficulty and that’s where George’s coach Grace Whitton comes in. She’s his eyes on the rink, as George explains.

“When the jack is thrown it is like the face of a clock. Someone calls to you using the clockface - if you’re at 12 o’clock noon you’ve found the line, and it’s a case of getting the weight right.

“The marker also calls the distance from the jack to your bowl