Learmonth gains a police officer – and a bowler

THE boys in blue and yellow have been joined by one of the boys in blue.

Learmonth has not only gained a new police officer in the past few months, it has also picked up a very handy division one bowler.

At the town’s single member police station he is Leading Senior Constable David Kelly.

At the Learmonth Bowling Club he is Dave, playing skip or third for the Lakers.

The 48-year-old applied for a transfer from Woomelang in the Mallee in October to the station, which had been without a resident station commander for two years. 

“My family circumstances changed and I needed a fresh start,” Kelly says.

“I had family in Ballarat, it was central and it was a bit closer to civilisation. 

“Woomelang is really remote.”

Even before Kelly had arrived, the Learmonth Bowling Club had done its own investigation and nabbed its man before any of the other clubs were on the scene.

But, crook puns aside, Kelly said joining the town’s sporting community was always part of his agenda.

“Mick Casey, who is a club stalwart at the Learmonth Bowling Club, heard that I’d got the position and actually rang me before I got here,” Kelly said. 

“He’d been speaking with other policemen who had been involved here, including Tony Walker.

“Tony said I was a decent bowler so Mick made sure he spoke to me before other clubs.

“I was always going to play at Learmonth but it was still nice to get that phone call.

“Sporting clubs are a way to get to know the people in the town.

“That’s how I got into bowls.

“Small towns live and die by their sporting clubs.

“You become part of the club and they get to see you, not only as a policeman but also as a person.

“You build a much better understanding of the community. 

“In Woomelang I was involved in the footy club but I wanted a way to get to know some of the older members of the community.

“With footy clubs you get that whole younger age bracket from Auskick up, while bowls clubs can go up to those aged 80 or 90.

“Different age groups have different perceptions and needs of the police force.” 

Kelly started playing bowls at Woomelang eight years ago.

In his first year he played in division two (there were only two divisions), winning a premiership, before settling into division one. 

During that time, Kelly was club champion four times at Woomelang, in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011. 

Funnily enough, Kelly has managed to keep that remarkable odd-year record intact, winning the Lakers’ club championship this year, defeating Mick Casey 21-15 in the final. 

“Perhaps Mick is regretting bringing me to the club,” Kelly laughs. 

“I’ve found Learmonth to be a very friendly club but still very professional.

“I hope I can help improve it as we look to hopefully get into premier division in coming years.

“Tomorrow we play Smeaton and we need to win to stay in touch with the four.” 

Kelly is also a member of the Victoria Police bowling club, based in Melbourne.

He has contested the Australian Police Games in lawn bowls in the past two years.

They were in Adelaide, where he earnt a teams’ gold medal for Victoria, and Caloundra.

gavin.mcgrath@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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