A BUILTH Wells woman is celebrating being chosen to represent Wales in the para bowling events at the Commonwealth Games in Australia later this year.

Mum of two Pauline Wilson, 54, will be bowling in the open triples event at the Gold Coast games which run from April 4 to April 15.

Pauline, who started bowling when she was 18, bowls with Builth Wells Bowling Club outdoors from April to September and Radnorshire Indoor Bowling Association from September to March.

Originally from Durham, she moved to Builth Wells in 2006 with her husband Douglas and her daughters Stephanie Mill, now 31, and Fiona Mill, now 26, who will all be traveling to Australia to support Pauline at the games.

She said: “I started bowling when I was about 18, but I stopped for 14 years when I had my two daughters so I could look after them. I then joined the Builth Wells Bowling Club in 2007.”

Pauline, who had to have her left leg amputated in 2014 after a botched operation, represented Wales last year as a para bowler at Newport in April and Nottingham in October in the home test series against England and Scotland.

Prior to being selected for this year’s Commonwealth Games, Pauline was invited to a Commonwealth Games test event in Australia last year where she was part of the Welsh para bowls team.

Wales managed to finish in third place after the play-offs, and went on to beat England in the bronze medal match. Pauline said: “As para bowls is still in its infancy in Wales, there are not many para bowls tournaments to compete in. I do travel to Nottingham to play in tournaments that are run specifically for para bowlers but I cannot always fit them in around my busy diary.”

Besides competing in para events, Pauline regularly competes against able-bodied bowlers and in 2017 she won three indoor bowling tournaments at the Radnorshire Bowling Centre in Llandrindod Wells: these were the stadium pairs with Shirley King; the rinks with Shirley King, Gill James and Paula Summerfield; and, the mixed pairs league with her husband Douglas.

Pauline, who was the ladies captain for the fourth season, was also the runner-up in two other indoos tournaments – the stadium triples with Shirley King and Gil James and the Thursday mixed rinks league.

She also organised the Heart of Wales open tournament for the third year running, which included bowlers from across Wales and the English border who were playing for a total prize money of just under £1,000.

Pauline said she also helped with the disabled club on Friday mornings and coaching the juniors in the evening up until March last year, as well as helping with stewarding and bar duties on a regular basis.

Pauline also won two outdoor tournaments in Builth Wells – the Ladies Championship and the ladies open singles. She also won the open pairs with Yvonne Norton at the Llandrindod Wells tournament.

The avid bowler was a finalist in the Builth Wells Champion of Champions and the Builth Wells’ mixed pairs as well as regularly playing in the womens’ Brecon and Radnor league.

She was also selected to play for Mid Wales County who went on to the win the Savegar trophy for a second year in a row.

Pauline, who describes herself as an “amateur” bowler enjoying her hobby, said that she was so “happy and overjoyed” when she got the phone call to say she had been selected to represent Wales that she wan’t able to answer over the phone at first.

She said couldn’t reveal that she had been chosen, along with Raymond Lillycrop of Milford Haven and Jonathan Hubbard from Tenby, until it had been officially announced.

Pauline said: “When I received the phone call to tell me that I had been selected to play in the Commonwealth Games 2018, I was so overcome emotionally, I could hardly speak.

“To be given the opportunity to represent Wales is both an honour and a privilege. When I wear my red, dragon shirt I have a feeling of pride and a determination to do the best I can for Wales

“I have come down to earth and I am looking forward to the experience of playing in my first Commonwealth Games.

“Along with my team mates we regularly attend team practices most weekends. I continue to play in league and stadium competition matches up to four per week to maintain my standard of play.”

Pauline’s physical problems began in 2008 after she developed compartment syndrome in both legs after an error made by a surgeon during a routine operation.

While the hospital did everything they could to save her legs, they were both badly affected – especially her left leg.

She said: “I lost my leg because of medical negligence – I went into hospital for a routine operation in 2008 and my legs were basically starved of oxygen because they were elevated for seven hours.

“I really struggled after that, they were often swollen and I was in a lot of pain – especially in my left leg, so in 2014 I made the decision to have it amputated. It sounds drastic but it was the right thing to do and I’ve never looked back.”

Pauline said she had always played against able-bodied bowlers before her amputation in 2014 and she has continued to play against both able-bodied and para bowlers following the loss of her leg.

She said: “Prior to my amputation in 2014 I had always played with and against able bodied bowlers and I have continued to do so since my amputation. I never thought that I shouldn’t play – even when it meant playing out of a wheelchair, I was not going to be beaten.

“My determination to be the best I can and my love for the game keeps me going. I’m hugely competitive and although I do not like to lose, I would like to consider myself gracious in defeat.”