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A New Life in the Sun: starting a bowls club in France

PUBLISHED: 17:42 23 March 2018 | UPDATED: 16:29 27 March 2018

Parsons Meade bowls club in Dordogne © Parsons Meade

Parsons Meade bowls club in Dordogne © Parsons Meade

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Judith Smith and her husband Tony tell us how they moved to Dordogne in 2015 to start a bowls club and gîte business and ended up being filmed by Channel 4 for A New Life in the Sun

The bowling green at Parsons Meade bowls club being built © Parsons MeadeThe bowling green at Parsons Meade bowls club being built © Parsons Meade

Why did you decide to move to France and start a bowls club?

We had wanted to move to France for a number of years. Tony and I were avid bowlers in Sussex where we used to live and my father Leonard Parsons was a passionate player and won the Kent County singles championship in 1954. So we decided to create a bowls holiday complex in France with gîtes, for people from abroad to come and play and name it Parsons Meade as a legacy for him.

How did you find your property in Dordogne?

After researching many other areas in France we still had not found the correct place. Tony finally chose Eymet in Dordogne because it had lots of people from other European countries with bowls backgrounds. We found a 200-year-old property with two acres of land which has the potential to build and create our own bowling green. The beautiful views over rolling countryside clinched it.

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The club house at Parsons Meade bowls club being built © Parsons MeadeThe club house at Parsons Meade bowls club being built © Parsons Meade

What was the reaction of your neighbours in Eymet?

Both the Mayor and the planning department were understanding and very helpful to our design. During the building of the actual green, much speculation occurred among the locals over the huge expanse of concrete that had been laid. Was it a landing strip, or a foundation for a factory? We spent many hours explaining about the game of bowls played in England. We are proud to own France’s fist full-size bowling green made from artificial turf!

How did you become involved in A New Life in the Sun?

A friend who was involved in the show last year suggested that we might like to be involved this year, and recommended us to True North, the production company. They then contacted us and the filming began.

What was it like being filmed?

They wanted to film our history and our reasons for moving from England, the project history and why we wanted a bowls green, our expectations for the whole scheme of gîtes etc. Then of course they wanted to film the physical activity every day of building and decorating and getting ready for the opening by the Mayor of Eymet in May 2015 as well as the visit by the Pétanque chairman who tried his hand at bowls, and Tony’s return visit to the Petanque in Eymet. Had you asked Tony two years ago would he like to go in front of a camera, the answer would have been definitely no. However he realised that it was a chance to promote our dream.

Read more about Judith and Tony in the June issue of French Property News, on sale on 16 May.

You can watch Judith and Tony on A New Life in the Sun on Channel 4 at 4pm on 28-30 March. Catch up on past episodes on All 4

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