AN ESTATE bowls club which has been going for more than 50 years is celebrating after getting five stars in its first ever food hygiene inspection.

The Blackbird Leys Bowls Club got top marks as it seeks to expand its catering offer for matches and special occasions.

Formed in 1966 by a group of friends who had never before stepped foot on the bowls green, the club is now looking at ways it can boost its revenues to cover running costs.

Club secretary Dave Buckwell said it 'hadn't been easy' for the small club to achieve the feat and had taken months of work.

He added: "We were looking to increase footfall and were approached by a couple of darts teams who wanted to play in our clubhouse.

"We also run parties for members on special occasions and are increasingly making food on the premises.

"Darts is often an evening game so they are looking for a more substantial food offer including hot food so in order to be able to provide for this, we needed to have all the paperwork in place."

Changes made to the club in recent months have included installing new flooring in the kitchen to make it easier to clean.

Several members have also been trained up to gain qualifications in food hygiene so they are trained to prepare and serve food to others.

It marks a change for the club whose previous catering offer has only consisted of making sandwiches for matches against opposing teams.

Mr Buckwell added: "The main thing was making people aware that they can't treat the fridge or freezers and other equipment in quite the same way they do at home.

"Now we have a good group of people on hand who can step in if we need someone to help prepare food.

"It is all about keeping things ticking over.

"It's not going to make us a huge amount of money but the more we can do to get people using the club, the better.

"Our bar is our lifeblood really and being able to offer food will hopefully translate into sales in drinks which will only be good for us."

In 2016 the original founder members of the club helped to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

They happened across the bowls green when walking across Blackbird Leys Park one day and thought they would give a go.

One member, Les Aldridge, went on to win the county singles championship.

The club is always looking for new members and in particular wants to get more young people involved.