Meet special guests who couldn't wait to go bowling again
IT took almost a decade for Ipswich to get a bowling alley back after the 2011 floods destroyed the Ipswich Tenpin Centre at Bundamba, only for dreaded COVID-19 to put the sport back in jeopardy again.
The new lanes opened late last year as part of the iPlay amusement centre at Riverlink Shopping Centre and it was soon attracting the old bowling fans as well as a host of newcomers.
With the increase in COVID-19 cases in March came an order for the amusement centre to shut, along with a ract of other non-essential services.
The closure was a big blow to enthusiasts, among them, clients of the Alara organisation, which brings people with disabilities to the bowling alley on a regular basis.
Their long wait was over just over a week ago, with the relaxation of restrictions allowing iPlay to reopen with limited numbers at first.
With more restrictions easing iPlay is getting back to full operation.
iPlay's bowling lanes had become a good friend to Alara and its clients over the past year and the chance to visit on a regular basis was badly missed when the health closures came into force.
Alara activities facilitator Trish Gibson said it had been a long three months and it had been difficult explaining to many of their clients just why they were missing out on the fun of going to iPlay.
"Many couldn't understand why the centre was closed and were upset because it had become one of their favourite places to visit," she said.
"The centre had looked after us giving us discounted group bookings and also offering our carers the chance to bring their clients in on a one on one basis. Importantly iPlay had allowed our clients to wear their own shoes and although this may seem a small thing to many of our clients it was very important.
"It's vital that we have these type of centres which are out in the community, where our clients can have a little bit of competition and where they can have social interaction."
Ms Gibson said the smiles on the faces of Alara's clients this week when they marched back into iPlay said it all.
"It's a fun place and we all love coming here," she said.