Black Dog’s Day on the Green

People watch on the action. (Supplied)

The bowls were simply a formality at the Ocean Grove Bowling Club on Australia Day when 126 competitors come together to raise awareness for mental health in support of the Black Dog Institute.

The competition was fierce as teams played for the Sheen Panel Service Cup as part of a fundraiser to raise vital funds for mental health research.

The day came about after Lara Bowling Club’s Shane Hafner and Club Sunbury’s Cameron Balam recently formed a fundraising initiative named “Bowl For Your Lives”.

Both Hafner and Balam are former police officers who have endured the challenges associated with mental health.

They have a friendship that spans decades and together they had a vision to bring attention to the bowls world highlighting the stigma about mental health and encouraging those battling to reach out and start a conversation that may end up being a lifesaver.

During the lunch break of the bowls competition, you could hear a pin drop as players listened to guest speaker and author Shane Kelton open up about his struggles with mental health.

Kelton who wrote a book “I didn’t want to die, I just wanted the pain to end” took part in the days event and was instrumental in raising the importance of speaking up.

With the support of Sheen Panel Service in Ocean Grove and Drysdale, Woolworths, Ocean Grove Bowling Club and many other generous partners and donations on the day more than $10,500 was raised

which goes directly to the Black Dog Institute to raise much needed funds for mental health research and suicide prevention.

Ocean Grove’s Tom Warren, Ken Thomas and Alan Drury were the best team on the day taking the inaugural Sheen Panel Service Cup.