A golf coach who three years ago set out to head the rehabilitation of wounded soldiers in her home town of Colchester through golf has seen her efforts snowball into a flourishing success.
Sarah Bennett, head PGA teaching professional at Three Rivers Golf Club, made it her personal mission to impart her skill and expertise into assisting injured serviceman on the road to recovery.
The former Ladies European Tour player and WPGA committee member began working with several injured soldiers at Chavasse VC House Recovery Centre following their time at the Headley Court rehabilitation unit in Surrey.
Bennett had seen her own tournament career cut short by a neurological balance disorder in 2005 which required four years of rehabilitation, so can empathise with some of the problems the soldiers face in their bid to rebuild their lives.
“Being told it was unlikely I would play golf again hit me hard and I still have to limit my activities but my experience was a drop in the ocean in comparison to both the physical and lasting injuries these chaps have to overcome,” said Bennett.
“I now know the determination and passion these soldiers possess, having been involved with Chavasse House and Help for Heroes for a year now and it is fantastic that everyone has embraced me in the manner they have.”
Bennett has also been involved in The PGA Buddy Scheme where injured soldiers who are playing golf are paired up with a PGA pro in their local community. She was one of 11 pros invited to Headley Court in November 2012 to receive a special plaque in recognition of their efforts.
That was an amazing and humbling experience of which I can now relate to when my soldiers talk about their experience.
“Much of my coaching is carried out at Three Rivers Golf Club but I also visit the house on a regular basis for my golf evenings attending functions and holding talks for the residents.”
Bennett’s efforts saw her arrange a recent golf day for her soldiers and she has plenty more ideas to continue fund raising and develop coaching opportunities for the injured service personnel.
“I already have a number of activities lined up for the remainder of 2013 and into 2014, in addition to introducing new residents and working with my existing friends,” she added.
Steve Schollar, Help for Heroes general manager at Chavasse VC House Recovery Centre in Colchester, said: “On behalf of Help for Heroes and the wounded, injured and sick Service personnel and veterans that we support, I want to express my gratitude to Sarah for inviting and hosting residents of Help for Heroes’ Chavasse VC House Recovery Centre for her special day at Three Rivers Golf Club and her on going coaching.
“This kind of support is essential as we continue to develop our facilities in Colchester, and the range of activities we provide to our recovering heroes.
‘Sarah has proved an inspiration in helping the soldiers into new hobbies and giving them the self-confidence to try new activities.”
Bennett was also involved in an ISPS Handa golf clinic at The Buckinghamshire on Friday in which she and fellow PGA Professional Craig Thomas delivered a coaching session to blind and disabled golfers.
Anyone interested in becoming involved in any future events or able to offer support please contact Sarah Bennett at firstname.lastname@example.org www.sarahbennettgolf.co.uk Twitter: @SBennettGolf
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