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Accessible croquet is a hit with residents at Storrington care home

Residents from Care South’s Sussexdown residential care home in Storrington learnt how to play wheelchair croquet thanks to a lesson from local croquet ace, John Coventry.

Starting with the basic rules, residents from Sussexdown were taught the best croquet techniques in the home’s extensive and beautifully manicured gardens. The lesson was made accessible for all, as each resident was taught to play seated in wheelchairs. After some practice and a lot of balls hit, residents joined in with a friendly introductory game.

Activities assistant, Pauline, was given the suggestion of wheelchair croquet by her father, Canon Peter Cole. Peter enjoys croquet and plays in a wheelchair due to his mobility.

He recommended his friend and West Chiltington Croquet Club member, John Coventry, teach the residents of the home how to play. The activity will now take place weekly at Sussexdown.

John Coventry, said: “It was a great opportunity to come to Sussexdown and teach something I am so passionate about. Croquet is a game that can be enjoyed by anyone, and we are thrilled to be coming into the home every Thursday afternoon to take part in some friendly competition. Residents and staff established a new type of accessible croquet so that everyone can get involved. It is a wonderful activity that relatives can also join in with when they visit their loved ones.”

John grew to love the sport back at school and later joined St Helens Rowden Croquet Club in Cheshire where he was a member for about 15 years before moving to Sussex and has now been playing at West Chiltington Croquet Club since 2018.

Canon Peter Cole who also attended the lesson of croquet and his wife, Marian, was gifted a croquet set when they moved from Folkestone Church Parishioners to a new parish. They moved to a village in West Sussex called Fittleworth but there wasn’t a croquet club there so Peter put something in the local magazine and the local community were interested, which is when everyone began playing at the old Rectory Garden in Fittleworth. When that expanded, the Rother Valley Croquet Club was formed in Duncton, and it went on to thrive with a current membership of over one hundred members.

Pauline Dando, Activities Assistant at Sussexdown, commented: “After a long, cold, and wet winter, residents were longing to get out and enjoy the lovely gardens. With a newly purchased croquet set, I suggested that we get a specialist to come and show residents how to play and have a friendly introductory game. Everyone loved getting involved and learning from John who did a wonderful job teaching the basics to residents in our care. As mole heaps and long grass do not make for an easy game, Gary the gardener here did a great job preparing the lawn ready for the activity to take place.”

One of the participating residents added: “What a wonderful activity this was. I love getting the chance to learn something new and I had so much fun participating in a new sport, and I loved it too.”

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