BOWLERS from all over the country have gathered in a North-East park to remember a much-loved former club member.

Andy Dixon, below, a hugely popular member of Darlington South Park Bowls, died in April 2019.

The Northern Echo:

The club decided to honour him with an open tournament – playing for the Andy Dixon Memorial Trophy – with his widow, Carol, donating the trophy.

Andy’s son, Carl, said: “The original plan was to do it the year after Dad died but we were unable to go ahead until now because of the pandemic.

“So many people wanted to honour him that the tournament grew from one day into a whole weekend, with people coming from Scotland and other parts of the country.

“It’s a really fitting way to remember him because he loved his bowls and wanted to bring about changes, so it became more accessible.”.

More than 100 people took part in the tournament during the weekend and, in memory of Andy’s determination to make the game less formal and stuffy, participants were given the option to wear fancy dress.

Club member Phil Pearce did him particularly proud out in a patriotic red, white and blue shirt and matching Mohican wig on day one, and a tartan outfit, topped with a Tam O’Shanter on day two.

Andy’s brother Frank said: “He was just a fantastic bloke, with a great personality. He was so popular with everyone and the turnout at his funeral was incredible.”

Club secretary Scott Morland added: “Andy was only a member of the club for two or three years, but he made a massive impact in that time. He always turned up in shorts, no matter the weather, and just wanted to make it more fun. He made a lot of friends very quickly and is greatly missed.”

Andy, a retired driver for the Great North Air Ambulance Service, was also well known for running the Red Hall Tigers senior and junior football teams in Darlington.

He left four children – Clair, Carl, Andrew and Ben – and had 16 grandchildren. The tournament for the Andy Dixon Memorial Trophy will now become an annual event. The inaugural winner was mother and son team Steven and Jane Bassett.