Disabled bowlers benefit from new wheelchairs

Fund-raiser George Duffell with Andy Semple of Para-Handy Bowling Wheelchairs at Houghton Sports Centre.
Fund-raiser George Duffell with Andy Semple of Para-Handy Bowling Wheelchairs at Houghton Sports Centre.

Bowlers with disabilities will be able to take to the greens of Wearside clubs after specially adapted wheelchairs were delivered.

Houghton Town Bowling Club and Houghton Indoor Bowls Club have taken delivery of the Para-Handy Bowling Wheelchairs, costing £12,000.

Fund-raiser George Duffell with Andy Semple of Para-Handy Bowling Wheelchairs at Houghton Sports Centre.

Fund-raiser George Duffell with Andy Semple of Para-Handy Bowling Wheelchairs at Houghton Sports Centre.

The wheelchairs were bought following a fund-raising effort by bowler George Duffell, 86, after he witnessed the plight of those who want to play the game but are unable to without the use of a wheelchair.

He said: “I bowled for 20 years and it was always obvious that at least one person would be watching us play while sitting in their wheelchair.

“They’d want to play with us, but most wheelchairs would damage the greens so they weren’t able to.

“But these wheelchairs can be used on indoor and outdoor surfaces without damaging them.

Fund-raiser George Duffell with Andy Semple of Para-Handy Bowling Wheelchairs at Houghton Sports Centre.

Fund-raiser George Duffell with Andy Semple of Para-Handy Bowling Wheelchairs at Houghton Sports Centre.

“They don’t need anyone pushing them either so people can play alongside or against able-bodied people.

“The funding has come from six sources, including Ringtons Tea, Northumbrian Water and Gentoo and we’re very thankful to all of them for their help.”

The special chairs were designed by Andy Semple, who is founder Para-Handy Bowling Wheelchairs.

Mr Semple had bowled for 20 years but had to give up when he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

However, he was determined to get back on the green and decided to create the chairs, which have been approved by the British Wheelchair Bowling Association.

Mr Duffell said he now hopes that more people with disabilities will look to take part in the sport, using the chairs.

Mr Duffell, who lives near the Barnes in Sunderland and has helped to raise £160,000 towards good causes in the past few years, added: “Bowling for people in wheelchairs is flourishing in other parts of the country but not as much in the North East.

“Hopefully now it will take off and more players will come forward.”

For more details about the wheelchairs, call Kenneth Taylor on 584 7268.

More information about Para-Hendy Bowling Wheelchairs is available at www.para-handy-bowlingwheelchair.com.