Pam Walker at the Taieri Bowling Club. Photo by Gerard
It has been difficult.
But Pam Walker has defied the odds and played bowls to a high
level in Dunedin.
Walker suffers from ankylosing spondylitis, a disease that
has made life difficult for her.
It is an inflammatory disease that can cause some vertebrae
in the spine to fuse together and make the spine less
It can result in a hunched-forward posture. If ribs are
affected, it may be difficult to breathe deeply.
The disease has made playing bowls difficult for her.
''I can't look down the green when I'm delivering the
bowls,'' she said.
''I have a bit of trouble with balance and deliver the bowl
Walker played netball at Kaikorai Valley High School but
because of her illness bowls was the only sport she could be
''Bowls has been great for me,'' she said.
''It's given me more confidence about meeting people. I've
really enjoyed my bowls.
''People who don't play bowls look upon it as on old people's
sport. But you see it differently when you are part of the
''The old image of bowls has been changing over the last few
Walker started playing bowls seven years ago and joined the
Taieri club four years ago.
Bowls was a family game so it was almost natural that she
should play the sport.
Tommy Thomson, her father, played for the Brighton club and
was one of the best players in the Bowls Dunedin Centre.
Her brother Ross Thomson plays for Fairfield, her sister
Jackie Peterson for Andersons Bay and her husband Bruce for
''Bruce's team was short one day so they conned me into it,''
Walker did not like bowls when she was growing up and seldom
watched her father play.
''Dad loved his bowls,'' she said.
''But as children we didn't take much interest but used to go
to the green to annoy him and get money from him for
Walker's attitude to bowls changed when she started playing
''I like working at my game and trying to perfect it,'' she
''I like the social side of the sport.''
Walker won her second centre title last month in the champion
of champions triples in a Taieri team with Raylene Walshaw
and skip Janet Swallow.
It was the 12th title for Swallow and the third for Walshaw
when they beat the Outram combination of Sue Hodges, Anne
Warrington-Blair and Mary Stevenson 17-10 in the final.
Walker was a member of Swallow's four at the national
championships in Dunedin this year and came runner-up in the
national disabled games in Auckland.
It is a mixed competition and Walker finished runner-up in
the singles to Snow Reardon of Christchurch.
She had a trial for the Commonwealth Games team in Auckland
but did not make the team for Glasgow.
• Walker is keen to help people with disabilities get into
bowls. She can be reached at 489-8334 or through the Taieri