By MITCHELL DALE
THREE years ago Urunga bowler Helen Shepherd faced the frightening prospect of having her leg amputated because of blood clots. She cried for a while after receiving the news, then asked how long it would take for an artificial leg... she didn't want something like that interrupting her lawn bowls. "I was ready to have my leg amputated in August and pennants practice started in January, so I wanted it (an artificial leg) ready by then," Helen explained. Helen avoided amputation by having an artificial artery inserted into the leg, although it still took her some time to make a full recovery. "I had to play lead for a while until I got could go back to skip, which I love playing," she said. "It has only really been this year that I started playing skip again." Since the operation, Helen has claimed a No. 2 and No. 3 pennants title for Urunga, two titles she ranks as standouts among a crowded highlights reel. The story of how Helen first came to playing bowls is also a remarkable one, featuring another comeback from a health scare. After suffering two heart attacks, Helen joined Bellambi Bowls club in 1985 on the advice of a friend. She regards it as one of her smartest moves. "It was a wonderful thing to do and, healthwise, it helped me a lot," she said. "I came to Urunga in 1990 and have played bowls here ever since. "It is a beautiful club." It is obvious that bowls is a big component of Helen and her husband David's life. "We have made a lot of friends through bowls," she said. "There are a lot of wonderful people at this club and at other clubs."