Urgent appeal for volunteers to keep disabled sports going

Puffins Sports Club.
Puffins Sports Club.
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An award-winning club helping disabled people to participate in sport faces fear of closure unless volunteers for the New Year can be found.

The Puffins Sports Club, winner of Dacorum Sports Award for Disabled Sport, was opened over 35years ago by champion shot putter Geoff Capes.

The club which meets at Sport Space every Saturday morning, offers a vital service for disabled people by providing facilities for physical recreation and sport in a friendly atmosphere.

Attendees are typically aged between 20 and 50 and live with either physical or learning disabilities. The club helps people to enjoy a range of indoor sports including badminton, table tennis, pool, indoor hockey, basketball, curling and many other sports. The club also arranges external excursions and events for members.

Trevor Beale, who has volunteered with Puffins Sports Club for more than 20 years, said “Many of us who have been volunteering for many years are now unable to continue to do so, due to older age and ill-health and so we now need some new local volunteers to carry on our legacy and keep the club up and running”.

In addition to offering disabled people an opportunity to try sport, the Puffins Club helps members to develop their skills and raises self-esteem and confidence in their ability to succeed at sport. For many members, attending Puffins Sports Club is the highlight of their week. Disabled people often find that not many activities run at the weekend locally and so the club enables them to get out of the house and socialise with other people.

When Alan, who has severe learning difficulties, started attending Puffins Sports Club, he had never attempted to play any sport. His co-ordination wasn’t good enough to play any racquet games. After attending weekly for a few months, Alan’s confidence has been raised and his hand-eye co-ordination has improved so much that he can now hit a shuttlecock. Alan has now bought his own racquet and is keen to pursue the sport further.

Dacorum has a fantastic legacy for disabled sport with local girl Jess Stretton winning a gold medal in Archery at the Rio Paralympics this year. Jess discovered her passion for Paralympic sport at a grassroots not-for-profit Sports Camp, proving just how important groups like Puffins Sports Club can be.

Volunteer Chris Clapham said “I have gained real satisfaction from seeing the joy that our members get from their achievements, and have enjoyed some wonderful experiences, with fun and friendship along the way.”

“We would be sorry if our disabled members were to lose such a fantastic club and so we are making a determined effort to find new volunteers” he added.

If you are interested in volunteering for Puffins contact chairman Terry O’Nien on 07899 062674 or email the.oniens@ntlworld.com.