Gemma Lewin, a Client Relationship Manager at Sarnia Yachts, will soon be travelling to Australia for the Commonwealth Games. She will lead the Guernsey Lawn Bowls team as their Manager.
The role of Bowls Team Manager is a little different from her day job. At Sarnia, Gemma attends to a portfolio of clients, yacht-owning structures and crew employment structures. Taking care of the needs of her clients, captains, intermediaries and crew, Gemma ensures that the structures are compliant in all matters and operate smoothly.
Here Bruce Maltwood asks Gemma about her hobby and what it means to be picked for the Commonwealth Games:
When did you start playing bowls?
‘I learnt to play bowls aged seven in Jersey, following in my parents’ footsteps, both of whom were avid bowlers.
‘There I played indoor and outdoor bowls at both club and island level, playing in Guernsey several times as a Junior having been chosen to attend the School of Excellence. This was a great achievement as one of the coaches included three-time world indoors singles bowls champion David Bryant, CBE.
‘As a teenager, I gave up bowls as I became involved with singing, and sadly couldn’t commit to both. It wasn’t until I moved to Guernsey two years ago, following some time in Gibraltar and Spain, that I took the sport up again, joining the Vale Rec Bowls Club.
‘This has seen me playing in club and island competitions once again, although this time representing Guernsey against Jersey.’
How did you become Commonwealth Team Manager?
‘In January 2017 I interviewed for the Commonwealth Games Lawn Bowls Team Manager position and was delighted to be selected. As part of the role, I was also appointed as the Guernsey Team Manager for the inaugural British Crown Dependencies Test Match in July 2017 between Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, hosted in Guernsey.
‘This was the first time in history the three British Crown Dependencies had competed in this format, so it was very exciting to be involved. The experience was topped off only by the fact that the Bowls Guernsey team won:
‘I was also appointed as the Guernsey Bowls Team Manager for the 11th European Team Bowls Championships which were held in Jersey in September 2017. It was a privilege to be involved with the team and it gave me the opportunity to meet other people who will also be at the Commonwealth Games.
‘It was an eventful week with the fantastic result of Guernsey retaining the overall Silver (out of 16 countries) which they achieved in Israel in 2015. The men became the first players to keep their title by retaining the Gold for the Men’s Pairs, which they had initially won in Israel in 2015.’
What does your role entail?
‘As part of my role I attend the Commonwealth Games Council Meetings, which are currently monthly. This has been an eye-opener and given me great insight into how much work has been involved with the various elements such as travel arrangements, team coordination and kit selection. The length of time it all takes is surprising and something which as a spectator you would probably never consider!
Have you been involved in the build-up to the Games?
‘As part of the build-up to the Commonwealth Games, I was invited to a reception for the Queen's Baton Relay when it arrived in Guernsey for four days. Here I had the honour of holding the Queen's Baton; this was a once in a lifetime opportunity as it’s not only a unique event, but there is a new baton for every Games held.’
Will the team have some practice time ahead of the games?
‘The games take place from 4th April to the 15th April, the majority of the lawn bowls team will arrive a week early so the players can acclimatise and adjust their game to the speed of the green.
What are you most looking forward to about the Games?
‘I can’t wait for the opening and closing ceremonies as I anticipate that the atmosphere will be electric.
‘Following the games, my partner Matt and I will have a couple of days holiday in Cairns. He will be coming out as a member of the Guernsey Lawn Bowls team. Hopefully, Guernsey can bring back some medals!’
You are clearly very passionate about the sport, and all of us here wish you and the team the best of luck.
‘I am so grateful to Sarnia for the support that they have given me since joining in November 2017, especially as I had to ask for a month off at the interview stage.’
Gemma will be heading off to Australia on 24th March, keep an eye on Sarnia Yachts Facebook and Twitter to see updates on the team’s progress. #GuernesyforGold