Taking It To the Nation
For several years Sportability worked from one centre in Gloucestershire, where we ran our own events.
Although running a full programme of sporting events such as sailing, quad-biking, gliding, canoeing, archery, falconry and scuba-diving, this still excluded most people. Why? Because they simply couldn’t get there!
In 2002 we had a strategic re-think and decided to take Sportability to the nation.
To raise the seed-corn funding, in April 2002 David Heard did a sponsored cycle ride up the spine of Vietnam, and with the generous help of signature sponsors Barratts of Nottingham, we launched our first new region (East Midlands) that year, while continuing to work in the Bristol Gloucester area.
The new format was to “buy in” services from existing service providers – gun clubs, sailing schools, flying clubs, corporate event organisers etc – thereby obtaining expertise, insurance and all health and safety cover through established, professional operations. Many have had to be educated in working with our population, but this is a service that Sportability can and willingly does provide.
This move meant that we had substantially reduced overheads, and funds raised were going directly to the core cause: Providing sports and challenging events for people with paralysis.
In 2016 Sportability offered over 800 completely free places for people with paralysis across 70 events in 13 regions around the UK. Of these, 26 were multi-sport days which offered two or three activities within one event. Sportability also staged several indoor events (skydiving, archery, tennis and shooting) allowing us to offer a programme of winter activities for the first time.
The introduction of a programme of events including, microlight flying, sailing, quadbiking and shooting in a Central England region – Beds/Herts/Bucks; and the resuscitation of the North West region – the Liverpool/Manchester corridor – with a similar programme, now brings the total number of active regions around the UK to 13.
So Sportability has been able to bring new opportunities to many more people with paralysis around the UK.
“From a single base, we’re delighted to say we are now active in 12 more regions around the UK”