Bedford opticians help visually-impaired bowler to represent his country in South Africa tournament

The future looks bright for visually-impaired lawn bowler John Hollowell after he secured sponsorship from a Bedford opticians and can compete in the International Bowls for the Disabled World Championships in Johannesburg next year.
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John, a former roofer who lost his sight due to undiagnosed diabetes, took up lawn bowls less than 21 months ago at Bridgeman Bowling Club in Harrold, and is already playing at a national and international level.

His abilities on the green recently caught the eye of directors at the Specsavers store in Harpur Shopping Centre, and they’ve agreed a deal to support him.

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With the help of his wife Beata, who acts as director standing beyond the jack and indicating what angle and distance the bowl has rested from it, John won his first England cap at the Disability Bowls England Home Nations Indoor competition earlier this year.

John and his wife Beasta with Store manager Carl Furnell John and his wife Beasta with Store manager Carl Furnell
John and his wife Beasta with Store manager Carl Furnell

After winning the national title he then went on to win gold in both the singles and pairs in the B3 sight category at the Visibly Impaired Bowls England (VIBE) national championships and gold in the UK singles title at the VIBE championships.

The sponsorship sees Specsavers contribute towards the travel and accommodation costs for John and Beata’s trip to South Africa to compete in the world championships, as well as team kit branding.

John, who hails from Harrold, says: ‘I’m really grateful to everyone at Specsavers. I really appreciate the support they’re giving me.

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‘I absolutely love the game – it is great that I can get involved in a sport without too many adaptations. Now I am representing my country in the world championships, it just couldn’t get any better.’

After hearing about John’s amazing achievements, the team at Specsavers Bedford were keen to back him.

Elizabeth Stewart, Specsavers Bedford store director, says: ‘We always want to positively impact our community, whether that be directly through our services and expertise in-store or indirectly by championing others, giving them the ability and facilities to lead healthy and fulfilling lives.

‘We’re thrilled to be supporting John’s bowling career. He’s a true ambassador for the sport. He’s got ambition, commitment and dedication, and we’re looking forward to hearing how he gets on in the run-up to the world championships.’

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Those unable to attend a Specsavers store unaccompanied can receive the same eye care at home via its Home Visits service. Specsavers home visits covers more than 90% of the UK.

For more information or to book an appointment at Specsavers Bedford call 01234 348944 or visit