26 February 2024

On 22 February 40 local disabled people came together at Tidworth Leisure Centre for an unforgettable day of sport!

The FREE event was organised by WheelPower, the national charity for wheelchair sport, and provided all those who attended with a life changing opportunity to experience a number of different sports, whilst learning from a brilliant team of local sports coaches.

The event welcomed people with physical disabilities aged from 6 up to 71 for a fun packed day of sport and activity that included boccia, badminton, golf, wheelchair rugby and table tennis. As well as enjoying the many sports on offer, the WheelPower Sports Festivals are mostly about having fun, making new friends and discovering what’s on offer nearer to where you live. It is hoped that following the event many of those who attended will join local clubs and continue their sporting journey’s within their own communities.

One of those who took part in the event was 12 year old Maya from Melksham, whose parents watched on as she had a go at many of the wheelchair sports for the very first time. “Maya has a spinal cord injury and this was our first time at a WheelPower event. She’s never done anything like this before so it’s been out the comfort zone but she’s really enjoyed it. She is quite a shy girl and playing sport will really help with her confidence going forward. She loves wheelchair basketball so we are hoping to find her a club locally and we’re now interested in attending the WheelPower Junior Games later in the year too.”

Andy was discharged from the Army in 1984 after a serious knee injury and has since used sport as a means of recovery, and a vital way of improving his physical and mental health. He was attending his first festival event and said, “It was a truly brilliant day in Tidworth! Not only can you try different sports which is fantastic, but you also get to meet other local people and pick up lots of new ideas. Whatever your age or level of ability there’s a sport for you and I would 100% recommend this event to other people with disabilities.”

10 year old Oliver was another first timer and was very excited to try lots of new things. His parents said, “Our son is new to wheelchair sport having acquired a spinal injury as the result of a spontaneous bleed just over a year ago. Before injury he was a very active child who loved running around, climbing trees and playing with his friends. We wanted to come along today to try some different things but also give Oliver the chance to meet other children at the same level as him so he doesn’t feel like the odd one out.”

Finally, we spoke to Tom from Bath who is adapting to life following a very serious cycling accident. “After crashing my bike into a parked lorry I sustained a T5 spinal injury and spent 2 months in hospital. I raced nationally in cycling so was very active and I’m now interested in trying and doing new things and just see what the future holds. These events are great fun and you can just talk to other people, hear their stories and it just gets you plugged in to what’s going on closer to where you live.”

“We were thrilled to be back in Tidworth this year and what a day of sport we all had! Our festivals really do have a life changing impact on those who attend and we are sure we will be seeing many of these people go on to do more sport in the future. Whether that’s just being more active each week, or joining a local club, it’ll be fantastic to see that journey continue. You never know one day we might see one of our Wiltshire participants on our TV screens at a Paralympic Games one day!

I would like to also take this opportunity to thank the WheelPower sports team, the amazing volunteers and the coaches who made the event such a memorable one. We hope everyone enjoyed their day with us and look forward to seeing you again in 2025.” Conor Harris, WheelPower Sport Events and Development Officer.

The Wiltshire Wheelchair Sports Festival is an annual event from WheelPower and will be returning to the county once again in 2025.  

Wiltshire WheelPower Sports Festival 

The WheelPower Sports Festival will next be visiting Liverpool on 14 March, with further events taking place in Glasgow, London and Buckinghamshire later in the year. 

WheelPower Sports Festivals 

Check out the Flickr Album for all photos from the day: 

2024 Wiltshire WheelPower Sports Festival

Thank you to the journalism students from Winchester University for joining us in Tidworth. Check out the video below: 

Thank you to local radio stations CastledownFM and Radio Odstock for inviting us on to the airwaves after the event in Wiltshire. Listen to the interview with Kevin Lawrence below: