Norma Shaw, MBE, bowls champion

Norma was born on June 8, 1937 and died on June 10, 2009, aged 72.

Norma Shaw, by common consent England’s greatest woman bowler, won 26 national titles between 1976 and 1998, and won the women’s world singles title both indoors and out. Having made her first appearance for England in 1977, Norma played her last game for her country in Kilmarnock, where she helped to win the British team title in 2001 — but was still playing regularly at her Norton club until her death.

Norma’s contribution to the sport was recognised by the Queen in 1985 when she was appointed MBE for services to bowls. Norma moved to Norton in the mid-1960s.

Walking past the Norton bowls club, she and her husband Dennis stopped to watch a game and were invited to “have a go”. They were immediately hooked, and Norma was soon beating the best of the local talent, and moving on her way to the top of the game. Her first national title — the indoor fours in 1976 — soon led to her first international appearance for England, and she enjoyed a purple patch for the next seven years, winning 14 national titles by the end of 1983.

In 1988 she won the most prestigious title in English bowls — outdoor singles champion. After suffering a stroke, she recovered to full fitness, rolled back the years, and reached the semi-finals of the national outdoor fours championship in 2006. That there was a gap of 16 years between her winning the world outdoor singles title in Toronto in 1981, and the equivalent indoor title in Llanelli, South Wales, in 1997 is revealing, as was her qualification for the national championships, 33 years after her first major triumph. Norma was an active member of Norton Bowling Club and would spend many afternoons watching, encouraging, making tea and, of course, playing.