'A hell of an honour' bowls Jo Edwards
World-class Nelson lawn bowler Jo Edwards is puzzled as to why she's been singled out for special recognition as a Member of the NZ Order of Merit.
"I just play bowls," mused Edwards with customary grace and humour.
Edwards recalls how she'd received an initial letter about seven weeks ago informing her that she was in the mix and that all nominations still had to be ratified by the Queen.
That official confirmation arrived, again by mail, two weeks ago, followed last Monday by another letter from Prime Minister John Key.
"It was just crazy," Edwards said.
"I didn't want to open the letter [of confirmation], to be fair," she quipped.
"When the first letter came, Scruff [her husband and New Zealand bowls selector Dave Edwards] went out and got the mail and said, ‘what's that one?' And of course it's got the big Government House seal on it and I said ‘I've got no idea'.
"So I'm reading it and it says that you've been nominated, kind of thing.
"Then when the second one came, Scruff said, ‘open it, open it' and I'm like, ‘I don't want to'. He said ‘why?' and I said, ‘well, what if the Queen said no'.
"It was just a surreal conversation," Edwards joked.
"It's just a really amazing feeling, you never expect anything like this - but I didn't expect to feel like this. It's just a hell of an honour really - and for a lot of people really, not just me."
This time though, the Queen clearly got it right. The United club bowler has been at the top of world bowls for a long time.
The world No 1-ranked women's player since 2011, Edwards had previously won a gold medal in the pairs at the 2002 Commonwealth Games, gold medals in the 2004 and 2008 world bowls pairs and gold medals in the 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013 world cup indoor singles. She was also the gold medallist in the 2011 world singles champion of champions.
In 2012, she was also one of the two inaugural recipients of the Confederation Mondiale des Sport de Boules. She was Bowls New Zealand Player of the Year in 2008, 2012 and 2013 and was Westpac Halberg Awards finalist for Sportswoman of the Year in 2008 and 2011.
The Nelson Mail