Centenarians Joy & Percy Bassett
Meet Joy and Percy Bassett who have both celebrated their 100th birthday. Joy was born in 1919, Percy in 1920 and these centenarians have an impressive collection of bowls titles and achievements.
Joy has been described by her bowls friends as being lethal on short ends and competitive on the green. Bowlers who played against them in their day had nothing but praise for the pair. Joy wore her badges proudly on her hat and dress and Percy wore his on his State blazer. Percy started playing bowls at Sandgate Bowls Club in 1956 at age 36 and Joy joined the club in 1958. Percy remembers the club needing more players as club had new greens so he decided to take up the sport. He was involved with running of club initially, then he says “bowls got in his blood”. Joy had 50 years continuous membership until 2008, when the duo were both awarded life membership. They lived opposite Sandgate Bowls Club and say it was like their backyard.
Joy is one of 10 children, who were all very sporty and excelled in tennis, golf and cricket. No stranger to bowls, Joy’s parents were avid bowlers at Redcliffe Bowls Club. Joy’s mother, Olga Walther, was a bowler from 1956 to 1979 and received her Super Veterans (80 years) badge. She also won a number of club championships including A-Singles in 1957. Two of Joy’s sisters and a brother also played bowls at a high level. When Joy injured her leg playing tennis, she took up bowls and ended up as president.
The Sandgate women had not won a pennant badge for 40 years until 1975 when Joy was president. This was the start of a new era for the ladies, they won 16 times over the next 21 years, as well as taking the runner up spot a few times. They were referred to as “That Sandgate Mob” by their opponents. The women attributed their winning streak to “concentration, good temperament and a little luck, never giving in, keep going and never throw in the towel”. It was reported at the time that their pennant record was one of the most remarkable in Queensland bowls. Joy skipped a pennant team every year except for the one year after suffering a hand injury.
Joy has Meritorious Award badge she received from Sandgate Bowls Club, plus was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation for 50 years of continuous membership from the ladies club. Recognised and well-known in their community, Percy featured in the Sandgate 75th Anniversary Booklet under the Players of Note section, as well as in the Sandgate Centenary Book published in 2014. They moved from Sandgate to Perigian Springs on the Sunshine Coast in 2014 into a retirement village where today they still live in their own unit.
Both Joy and Percy were very respected, well known and well liked at their club, and not just for their bowling achievements. Percy’s favourite memory was being asked to lead for the then World Champion, Glen Bisteo, in an exhibition match against the NSW Prs champions at Burleigh Heads Bowls Club. Both Joy and Percy think that playing bowls today is very different to when they played. They only ever played with black, wide-drawing bowls and think that the game played now doesn’t require the same drawing skill. In closing, when asked what advice the couple had for today’s bowlers, Percy said “keep trying” and Joy suggested playing more draw bowls.