Bowling league for adults with additional needs a knock-out!

published on 4 Aug 2023

bowling group Southwick
Michael, Nicky and Andrew with their sister Amy

A tenpin bowling league which provides fun and exercise for adults with additional needs in Sunderland has marked the end of a successful season with a trophy handout.

Part-funded by The Salvation Army, the Tuesday Afternoon Champion’s League takes place at Disco Bowl in High Street West, Sunderland - offering a safe environment for people to have fun, meet new people and compete for a trophy.

Peter Lovegrove, who runs the group and is a Salvation Army adherent (a form of membership of The Salvation Army), said: “I was coaching children how to bowl and after speaking to adult services, had the idea of developing a league for vulnerable adults, people with learning disabilities, additional needs, or struggling with mental health. We’re at about 30 members now.

“It’s such a good way of bringing people together. The social side of it is really important. They spur each other on, if they get a strike, everyone is cheering, high fiving each other, running laps of the bowling alley. It’s amazing.

bowling group Southwick
Community manager Graham Wharton with Peter Lovegrove and volunteers

“At the end of the season in July, we have a trophy presentation, giving out certificates and a trophy to the winner of the league. It feels like the Oscars. One lad who won gave a wonderful speech thanking his parents, it was one of those tearjerker moments.

“There’s a sense of belonging and camaraderie as they are part of something, part of a team. It’s a secure, safe environment where they can have fun and build confidence.”

Amy, who brings her brothers Michael, 39, Nicky, 38, and Andrew, 36, said: “My brothers have always enjoyed bowling. Here it’s the social side that they like and they live for the trophy day! It means a lot, it’s fantastic for them. It’s thanks to Peter and the volunteers for getting this going.”

Supported by Southwick Salvation Army, the league is part of the church and charity’s Enable programme, which provides empowering spiritual and social fellowship for people with disabilities, their families and carers.

bowling group Southwick
Trophies handed out at the end of the season

Peter, who runs the league in his spare time alongside working as programme co-ordinator in care homes, volunteered with The Salvation Army and got to know Graham Wharton, Community Manager at Austin House Community Centre in Southwick.

Graham presents the trophy and certificates to participants at the end of the season and provides use of the minibus for tournaments.

Graham said: “Tuesday’s Enabled bowling club was the brainchild of Peter and we more than thrilled to support this venture and see the participants taking a full and active part in this programme.

“Each participant is so thrilled to enter this event which creates fun, excitement, and laughs. The presentation at the end of the season is a humbling experience as medals and trophies are handed out, the sense of pride needs to be experienced when each participant receives their well-earned prize.

“Peter needs to be acknowledged for all his hard work both during the event each week but also his long-term planning with his faithful volunteers. Definitely a strike in my book!”

Each session costs £4. Peter is also looking for sponsorship so each player can receive a new Tuesday Afternoon Champion’s League top. Please contact Peter on 07825 637569 if you would like to either join the league or help sponsor it.  

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