SPORTS CLUB BOWLED OVER THIS CHRISTMAS BY NATIONAL LOTTERY SURPRISE
Pembrokeshire Disabled Bowlers Club received an early Christmas present this week when a National Lottery player revealed their application for funding had been successful.
Club Secretary Stephen Whitmore was presented with a cheque for £7,414 of lottery funding through Sport Wales to help them adapt wheelchairs to allow members to access the green and play more fully.
This was part of The National Lottery’s ‘Thank You Wales’ campaign, allowing players to find out more about the projects that benefit when they buy a lottery ticket.
Tommy Gregory, 23, from Newport, posed as a volunteer at the Milford Haven club and went undercover for the day to find out more about how it supports local people with a range of disabilities.
Stephen Whitmore, club secretary and head coach, explained that the club has doubled its membership since he took over the helm four years ago. More than 30 Pembrokeshire people with disabilities now attend regular sessions, including members who have competed at Paralympic Games and for Wales in the Commonwealth Games.
Stephen, who was registered blind four years ago after living with visual impairment since birth, said, “Despite our efforts to accommodate all our members, since the club was founded in 1984 our wheelchair bound members have had to sit on boards in the corner of the green because the wheels on their chairs are unsuitable to go on our specially made green.
“The grant will make a huge difference to our wheelchair bound members, as it will help us to purchase specially adapted wheelchairs and clip on/clip off wheels. These will allow wheelchair players access to the green, and the freedom to get fully immersed into the game like other members.
“When Tommy revealed that he wasn’t with us to volunteer and presented me with the cheque I was completely shocked. It’s absolutely amazing, and we are so grateful for the money and the difference it will make to our members.”
Tommy Gregory, who works as an IT support worker in Newport said: “It’s not every day you get to hand over a cheque to an organisation, knowing that the money is going to help make a difference to the lives of so many people. It was really humbling to be involved in the campaign and see the look on Stephen and his wife Olwyn’s face when I handed over the envelope. He was so shocked but extremely grateful. It was a fantastic experience.
“When you buy a National Lottery ticket you usually think about the money up for grabs, but I’d never really thought too much about the fact that some of my ticket money goes to such deserving local community groups like Pembrokeshire Disabled Bowlers Club.”
Jackie O’Sullivan, Director of National Lottery Good Causes, said:
“National Lottery players have raised a massive £1.6 billion to fund projects right across Wales. The ‘Thank you Wales’ campaign is thanking lottery players, without whom none of this would be possible. We want to make National Lottery players aware of the thousands of fantastic projects across Wales which are successful, thanks to their funding.”
Stephen is ambitious to continue to grow the size of the club and welcome more people with disabilities from across the county through their doors. He is keen to reach out to other community groups that might benefit from playing bowls, such as people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.