Some of the biggest and most influential disabled groups in the country have thrown their weight behind the inaugural Disabled British Open golf championship, which will take place in Liphook in August. And it is hoped the unique, televised event will go some way to changing the media’s perception of disabled athletes.
The competition, the largest and most inclusive golf event in the country for disabled golfers, takes place at Old Thorns Manor Hotel, on August 24-25, and at the official launch event Esther Appleyard, from the sponsor Accentuate – a Legacy Trust funded programme – spoke of her delight at the support the tournament is receiving.
She said: “Accentuate is a ground-breaking, cross sector, multi agency project. It takes the milestones, values and achievements of the Paralympics Movement, with its origins in south-east England, as its inspiration in order to drive real and lasting change and to promote excellence.
“Accentuate is currently working with five agencies: English Heritage; the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA); Arts Council South East; Tourism South East; and Sport England to deliver 16 projects.
“Accentuate has the exciting potential to do something that no other programme has achieved to date: to establish a foundation stone on which a real cultural shift in attitudes can take place.
“This can be achieved if the skills and experience of disabled athletes and artists are not only celebrated, but taken seriously. The media has a very important part to play. By the end of 2012, we want the world’s media to recognise the south east’s role in the development of the Paralympics, whilst celebrating local talent and local creativity.
“We also need the media to understand that there must be a substantial change in the way disabled people are seen: moving away from the ‘tragic but brave’ portrayal, to one based on ‘achievement, ingenuity and success’.
“The Disabled British Open is exactly the sort of major event that we seek to support as part of Accentuate because of its high profile and professionalism, in demonstrating the skills and achievements of disabled sports people.”
The inaugural Disabled British Open promises to be the only event in the country open to all disabilities, including blind, amputee, special needs, and wheelchair-bound golfers, and will be broadcast by Sky Sports as part of its golf coverage.
Peter Hull MBE, the county development officer for disability sport with Sport Hampshire & IOW, said: “The Disabled British Open is a perfect example of the growing number of opportunities for disabled people to participate in sport and physical activity, which is why I am very happy to promote the event through my networks.
“To increase participation and awareness of disability sport it is important for it to have a high profile. With the media involvement the DBO will help in the development of disability sport.”
Richard Saunders, chairman of the golf section of the British Amputee and Les Autres Sports Association (BALASA), added: “The Disabled British Open is going to be a groundbreaking event bringing golfers with a wide range of disabilities together to compete on a level playing field.
“It’s fantastic to see that organisations such as SEEDA acknowledge the importance in promoting disability within sports. This event will not only build the profile of golf for people with disabilities, but ensure a lasting legacy for all disabled athletes in the run up to the London 2012 Paralympics.”
The two-day event will be the first of its kind in the south east and a fun day out for all the family. It is free for the public to enter. The event will also offer both able bodied and disabled people the opportunity to try golf for the first time and receive free coaching from qualified PGA pros.
The event is being promoted by Petersfield-based golf PR and marketing specialist The Azalea Group. The company is looking for volunteers interested in marshalling, scoring and spotting over the course of the two days. Anyone interested should register their interest through the official website, www.disabledbritishopen.org