Sight loss charity ‘putts’ itself on the golfing map

Visually impaired people from across the West Midlands teed-off an intense morning of golf lessons with tutorials given by top professionals at a golfing academy in Sedgley.

The session was held as part of the ‘ActivEyes’ project set up by leading Wolverhampton charity, Beacon Centre for the Blind, which supports adults who suffer from sight loss to take part in a broad range of leisure activities to raise confidence levels and encourage independent living.

Leading coaches Mark Butler and Richard Challinor put the group of 14 through their paces at the Mark Butler Golfing Academy where they were taught the basics of the sport on the driving range.

Mark Butler, owner of the Academy, said: “Golf is such a fantastic sport. It relieves stress and really encourages you to focus your mind. It’s a sport that can be played by anyone and everyone and we wanted to give people who have sight problems the opportunity to have a go at this great game.

“The group were given one-to-one tutorials during the morning session and grasped it really well –around four or five showed real talent and we’re hoping to put a team together next year.”

Following the golf morning, the Academy announced that it has chosen the Beacon Centre for the Blind to be their chosen charity of the year in 2014. The Academy intend to sponsor a visually impaired golf team, as well as taking part in a variety of fundraising activities to raise funds.

Through meeting like-minded people and sharing experiences, the ‘ActivEyes’ scheme encourages people with sight loss to try sports and leisure activities they may not have thought possible.

Funded by the Beacon Centre for Blind, Wolverhampton Council and Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, trips have been organised to try canoeing, archery, water-skiing and rock climbing, as well as less strenuous activities such as coffee mornings and cinema visits.

Tim Jukes, from the Beacon Centre for the Blind, said: “With more than 167,000 people in the West Midlands suffering with sight problems, it is vitally important that local businesses ensure their facilities are accessible for people who have a disability.

“It’s absolutely great that businesses such as the Mark Butler Golfing Academy take the time to understand the needs of people with sight loss and give them the confidence to try something new.

“We’re working hard to develop links with local leisure and sport centres, entertainment venues, bars and coffee shops across the West Midlands to encourage them to set up sessions and social groups for visually impaired people.”

Beacon Centre for the Blind helps people with sight loss in the West Midlands live fuller and more independent lives. The charity offers local people the finest facilities and support, from providing permanent accommodation in Wolverhampton, to advising people about the specialist equipment available, to practical advice on living with sight loss skills.

‘ActivEyes’ is open to anyone with sight problems and volunteers will be on hand to help people who need extra support.

To find out more call Tim Jukes on 01902 880 111.