BACK in 2008 it looked as though the final whistle could be blown on the refereeing scene in Barrow.

But fast-forward 12 years and it is now thriving.

Earlier in the century the Barrow Referees Society & Barrow & District Open Age Committees were very concerned due to the lack of match officials.

Numbers were down to only five active referees with none being on the Rugby Football League (RFL) ladder and unable to cover any Sunday youth fixture without club referees or coaches helping out.

There was no regular meetings or development session taking place so the society had to have a re-structuring including recruitment of new members.

Since the re-structure and help from the Peter Wharton & Ben Thelar of the RFL, the society now has two graded officials within the professional game and further six on the first couple stages and raising up the ladder.

Four others have been identified to undertake the RFL Training Development Session in December.

The society’s youth policy structure for under eighteens has been praised by the RFL and they have adopted this to help other areas of the country this been developed by chairperson Terry Barker, development officer Barry Hartle and senior referee Curtly Etchells.

During this period it recruited eight ex players, four female and sixteen youth personnel who under take fixtures from local and national youth fixtures, as well as schools and colleges.

Match officials also cover open age fixtures (both men’s & ladies) at local up to National Conference Levels including helping West Cumbria too under the RFL structure.

It currently holds monthly society meetings and development sessions are open to all members and new recruits. Contact Terry Barker (01229 830698) or