Stroke survivors have been celebrating the success of cross-Wales New2Golf Back2Golf sessions in helping to boost their confidence and wellbeing. The Stroke Association in Wales’ Stroke Community Steps is a four-year project funded by the National Lottery Community Fund Wales. The programme enables people affected by stroke to access community facilities and activities, including accessible golfing sessions, organised in conjunction with Wales Golf and supported by additional funding from the Sports Foundation for the Disabled and the Stroke Research and Innovation fund.
Former golfers and those new to the sport have been gathering weekly at clubs around Wales, going from taster lessons to getting out onto the course. Their success was celebrated at Clays Golf, Wrexham on 1 November and The Vale Resort, Cardiff on 13 November. One person who attended the celebration at the Vale Resort was Paddy Pratt from Pembroke Dock, whose confidence has really been boosted by getting out onto the golf course. Following a stroke four years ago, Paddy, 84, felt she wouldn’t be taking part in anything active ever again.
“But since I joined, I’ve discovered I can do things I never knew I could.” said Paddy. “I can also help those who are in a worse position than me – it’s brought a lot of people together who may have otherwise been living alone and feeling depressed. You don’t realise that the movements you do playing golf are so helpful, especially for your balance. I come with my walking stick, but put it down as soon as I arrive!”
The project has so far offered over 50 people affected by stroke the chance to get active. “What makes this project stand out is seeing the impact it’s had on people’s lives.” said Sarah Lee, Project Development Manager for the Stroke Association in Wales. “Some of the impact and feedback we’ve received is from people saying they would never have taken up, or gone back to golf without being encouraged by the scheme. This is a stepping stone that has changed their lives and now they have more confidence to try other things.”
Hannah McAllister, Wales Golf Director of Development added: “The key to this project’s success has been the partnership between Wales Golf and the Stroke Association. Everyone has had the same passion, the same commitment and the same end goals.”
One club where the scheme has been running is Pyle and Kenfig. “Theo Baker, Community Golf Development Co-ordinator for Wales Golf asked if we would like to be involved in some taster sessions and golf lessons with the Stroke Association.” explained Director of Golf at the Vale Resort, Dil Williams. “One of the members I had been coaching had had a stroke, so I thought that would be a great way of getting him back into golf. From the club’s point of view, it has been fantastic because we’re reaching out more into the community; it shows golf is a game for everybody. It was not without challenges, uneven ground and balance being a big issue for a lot of the people, but after 10 weeks of coaching, we have got them on the nine hole academy course where they play and thoroughly enjoy it. You could see the determination and it was great fun.”
The partnership and project has been used as a case study for collaboration by Sport Wales and has helped produce a collaboration tool kit for other sports partnerships and organisations moving forward.
Speaking about the project, Rebecca Blanche, Funding Officer at the National Lottery Community Fund, said: “This project is making such a difference to the lives of so many people in communities across Wales. Today is a fantastic example of charities making a real difference to the things that matter most to people thanks to National Lottery money.”
Further New2Golf and Return2Golf sessions are being planned for 2019. For more information about the Stroke Community Steps project, visit www.stroke.org.uk/communitysteps