Disability is proving no barrier for keen bowlers who have been given a boost by a care organisation.
The community-focused Bradley Park Bowling Club which holds weekly sessions for visually impaired and disabled players has secured vital sponsorship from Wrexham-based Pendine Park.
The extra support has come at a perfect time for the club as it re-builds its activities programme following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.
Leaders of the club near Gwersyllt say the cash sponsorship will help it maintain its Wednesday Touchwood sessions for visually impaired players as well as its disability club, Spot the Jack, which meets up on Thursdays.
Both activities have shown good results in improving the mental and physical wellbeing of participants.
Chair Ray Barnes said everyone at the club wanted to say a big thank you to Pendine Park proprietors Mario Kreft MBE and his wife, Gill, and all their team who have pledged £1,000 over three years through the Pendine Arts and Community Trust (PACT) which supports a whole host of cultural and community activities.
Ray said: “Our club is open to everyone and that includes absolute beginners or people who perhaps need a little extra help. We will adapt the games to suit their needs and there is always someone here to offer support and advice particularly at the Spot the Jack and Touchwood sessions.
“As a result, we have witnessed how new players benefit from improved confidence, raised social skills and how it can help enhance mobility and concentration.”
He added: “Without the generous support of our sponsors like Pendine Park we certainly would not be able to offers as many facilities as we do. The funds enable us to ensure that people from all walks of life can join us whether it is to just enjoy our fun practice sessions and recreational games or take part in competitions.”
Pendine Park employs more than 800 people in eight care homes across Wrexham and Caernarfon. It has a long history of supporting charities near and far, from local hospices to community groups and schools, and an orphanage in Kenya.
Mario said the PACT scheme was specifically established to offer a leg up for arts and community groups.
He said: “Pendine Park has developed a close relationship with around 30 groups which are the backbone of our community in North Wales.
“Here at Bradley Park it is clear to see how much enjoyment they offer, particularly to members who might otherwise be unable to take part in sporting activities like this. They go out of their way to ensure the club is all-inclusive.”
Among those who loves playing bowls is Pendine Park resident Josh Ebbutt, who lives at their Penybryn care home.
He was enjoying practising his aim with the bowling woods at the Spot the Jack Club for people with learning disabilities and mobility issues.
Josh’s carer Julie Watts who escorts him to the club, said playing bowls had helped his balance and co-ordination.
She said: “It’s really good for him, plus it’s great fun too. He loves coming here.”
Ray explained that the club prides itself on being all-inclusive and community orientated.
He said: “Josh is one of a number of players who delights in our Spot the Jack morning activities sessions. He loves joining in and he really focuses on each shot.”
The club has purpose built bowling aids and a specially adapted wheelchair, an all-weather green, and a conservatory where players can have coffee and chat freely between bowling sessions.
The current club developed following the transformation of an old bowling green which had been derelict for 13 years. Thanks to a fantastic bunch of dedicated committee members it managed to raise grants of £250,000 and built the all-weather surface which opened in 2012.
Players are proud to wear the club’s purple T-shirts which have the Pendine Park PACT logo on as well as the Bradley Park Bowling Club name.
Ray said: “They are a great way to advertise our club and celebrate being part of a community team.”
The club was joint winner of Organisation of the Year at the 2019 Wrexham Sports Awards.
The Touchwood group meets on Wednesdays between 10.30am and 12.30pm, and the Spot the Jack group meets on Thursdays between 10.30am and 12.30pm.
It is also hoped to set up coaching sessions in Boccia, a Paralympic precision sport related to bowls and the French game of Pétanque but using softer balls.
The club is also keen to encourage younger players to take up bowls.
Anyone interested in club activities can contact the chairman on 07763151572 or secretary Louise Roberts on 07921705018.