A TAVISTOCK sports club has been praised for its inclusive approach to welcoming all players regardless of their physical limits.
The Sir Francis Drake Bowling Club has a new ramp installed for wheelchair users and others with mobility difficulties to access the green.
There are more plans to widen the appeal of the club to those who might think they are not welcome or who feel they cannot join in fully because of physical limitations such as deafness and visual impairments.
These improvements are planned to include adaptive equipment for bowling.
Howard Dare even made the ‘heart-wrenching’ move from his beloved Plymouth bowls club to join Tavistock because of the accessibility, contrasted with his hometown club.
The former Wales international bowls player was forced to use a wheelchair after a spinal injury caused by a fall at work.
He said: ‘Bowling has saved my life and my marriage after I was introduced to it by Alan Mcardle, who now sadly passed away, when I was in a very bad state of depression because of my injury and having my life turned upside down. Alan was a wheelchair user and showed me a future with bowling.’
He added: ‘I have been struggling with training and tournaments because of the lack of accessibility at the Plymouth greens. I had to get out of my chair onto the ground and then get into a chair on the green, all without a ramp. It wasn’t fair or safe to ask people for help. So I now travel from Plymouth to Tavistock and it’s such a relief to have independence with the ramp. They are the most inclusive club in Devon.’
Stephen Hartley, Tavistock club committee member and visually impaired bowls player, said: ‘The club is continuing to grow it’s accessibility. I know how important bowls has become to my life ever since I lost my sight and everyone deserves to be able to be play bowls at Tavistock, regardless of their age, mobility and disabilities.’