Back in 2017, Margaret Evans approached Ferring Country Centre with the idea of volunteering, to teach a few Day Service Customers the game of Pétanque (also known as boule). Little did she know then, what a wonderful asset this would blossom into at the Centre. Margaret and another volunteer Annette Stratford, have been coming to the Centre every Wednesday to teach, play and enjoy the game with our Day Service, ever since (with a little interlude during COVID).

Over the years, more and more Day Service Customers have wanted to get involved as Margaret and Annette shared their passion for the game, which is suited to all ages and abilities. As well as a sport, it became a time of bonding also, as the team supported and encouraged each other as they learned how to improve their technique.

Margaret decided to initiate an award system, enabling the Day Service to have a target to work towards. This in turn boosted their self-esteem when they achieved their certificate and started to prepare for the next level. Some have even advanced to umpire status, learning the rules and helping to oversee the games safely.

The group used to meet and play in the indoor riding school, as the sand was a good base to play on. However, Margaret had the vision of a pétanque terrain outside, in the paddocks, and told Hannah about her idea…

After months of preparation from the maintenance team at Ferring Country Centre, the area (next to the allotment) was ready! As well as offering her time to Ferring, Margaret has been generous with her money also, helping to fund the project and apparatus. It was decided the team needed a name to give them an identity for when they played against other teams. Being near the sea and because we have horses at the riding school, the name ‘Seahorses’ was decided upon by everybody. The pod from the wood workshop made four giant seahorses painted in vibrant colours, to go on the fences around the field. They also made some very smart planters which were planted up by the Horticulture Department, adding cheerful colour. 


Janice Ranger kindly paid for two colourful benches to be placed on the edge of the terrain for spectators. These have been dedicated to her son, Ian Bant, who was much loved and is greatly missed.  The benches are a place where he can be remembered by his friends. His shed has also been placed on the site, also kindly donated by Janice. Margaret said, “This special corner will be the heart of the club whenever we play.”


After a big team effort, everything was ready and looking smart!

On 17th May, 2023 the new Pétanque Terrain hosted it’s official opening game! And what a great day it was, blessed with blue skies and warm sunshine! Two local pétanque clubs (Clymping and Arundel) were invited, as visitors, to play matches against The Seahorses. Janice Ranger cut the ribbon for the official opening and declared the site open! Then the games began!

The terrain was buzzing with action and all of the FCC teams rose to the demanding situation, playing better than they ever had! Very sportsmanlike behaviour was displayed throughout the day and the players represented FCC impeccably. Playing tips, they were given throughout the games by the experts, were accepted graciously and followed. A Clymping PC team ( Mike, Michael  and John) won all 3 of their matches and won the competition but a FCC team – (Bruno, Sam W and Daniel) also won 3 matches and ended up only 4 points behind the winners! Sam J , Gemma and Toby were the second placed team of the FCC players.


Margaret commented how thrilled she was with all the players, but particularly with a certain player who said they were too anxious to represent the club but overcame their fear, rose to the challenge and ended up playing an extremely impressive game.  “Well done our brilliant players. You were a credit to yourselves and to the Centre. Annette and I were very proud of you all.” She declared.

The eighteen players who represented Ferring Country Centre were presented with a participation certificate which they were very proud to receive.

None of this would have been possible without Margaret and her passion, enthusiasm and drive. With Annette’s help and support she has driven the whole project. And what has made this project so successful? Hard work and dedication for sure, but at the heart of it all was a genuine care for the Day Service Customers which has given it all a true purpose. And the reward for all this hard work? The pleasure and pride of seeing the players enjoy and improve their game, outside in the fresh air with their friends.

Here’s looking forward to a happy summer of pétanque on the new terrain!