Jim Naylor is used to people asking him when he's going to move his bed to the Coopers Beach Bowling Club. He won't be doing that though, for two reasons.

First, his wife of 54 years, Pam, is fully supportive of all that he does for the club: "We became a team in March 1966; you get Jim and you get me as well," she said.

Second, if his bed was there he wouldn't have time to use it - he's too busy working around the place.

Naylor's spectacular contribution to the club began with a plan to replace the "pretty rubbish" toilets. He had to build a new office to make room for new ones.

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Now he's been named Bowls New Zealand's Club Person of the Year, and club secretary Carol Sell is not surprised.

Naylor has made a remarkable contribution to the club, she said, not least in helping guide it through the "precarious" Covid-19 lockdown, but his impact has been "staggering".

"We wouldn't have anything like the club we have now without him," she said.

"I have no doubt that Jim has had the biggest impact on the club that anyone has ever had."

Now in his sixth year as president, he has set a standard that few around the country could match, hitting his straps in 2016-17, when he and fellow member Steve Barber worked every day to renovate the clubrooms, building the new toilets, installing a commercial kitchen and upgrading the bar.

"He gave up two years of his life for that," Sell said.

"He loves a project, but it's amazing what he can do, and he didn't charge the club a cent for his labour."

Naylor estimated the labour that went into that work, at minimal rates, would have been worth around $175,000.

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Jim Naylor enjoys a moment in the sun at Coopers Beach Bowling Club on Friday before moving on to his next job.
Jim Naylor enjoys a moment in the sun at Coopers Beach Bowling Club on Friday before moving on to his next job.

On Friday the retired builder from Birmingham, who came to New Zealand with Pam 16 years ago, was painting a new surround on a clock overlooking the top green, which he had built to replace the one damaged by vandals, and was clearly happy in his work.

He had an engineering apprenticeship in his youth, he said, and had worked as a shopkeeper and a butcher, but building had been his life's work.

"And a dogsbody. I can pretty much turn my hand to anything," he said, and no one was disagreeing with that.

Pam, he added, was unfailingly supportive, packing his sandwiches every morning, some of his working days at the club stretching to 14 hours.

"I couldn't do what I've done without her," he said, "or without the support of a lot of other people. I might be driving the train but there are a lot of people in the carriages."

Having decided that the toilets had to be replaced, he had concluded that the only way to fix that problem was to become president and "get stuck in". So he did. And Naylor didn't stop there.

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He spent the Covid lockdown installing a stock control system in the bar till, which entailed complex discussions with the software company. The new system did not have an operating manual, so he produced one himself. He also lined the ceiling, improved the lighting, carpeted the floor and painted the walls, as well as checking that the refrigeration and chillers were functioning properly, every day.

Naylor upgraded the CCTV system, upgraded the PA and music system, fitted a commercial filter into the green irrigation system, built a shed for the scoreboard and greenkeeper's equipment, and helped build a portable stage for entertainers.

Over summer he installed an overhead projector and large screen, and when the bar manager departed at short notice he stepped in, taking over and training a new one.

His to-do list includes laying a new surface on the lower green, installing a solar system to reduce the power bill, building a storage room, concreting the carpark and improving the entrance off SH10.

Sell said Naylor had the perfect temperament for a president, one who had taken his committee with him.

"He has a calm nature and doesn't get upset or agitated," she said.

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"If you are given a job or a project, he lets you get on with it and doesn't interfere. And he will always try to find the best deals. He'll spend hours on the computer comparing things.

He's always got the club's interests at heart."

Naylor's not a bad bowler either. Having initially spent three years at the Oruru club, he said last week that he had his name on every championship trophy at Cooper's Beach at least once. He also coaches newer players.