Morpeth Lions Club
At a recent meeting of Morpeth Lions Club Stephen Trewick talked to the members about a little known sporting organisation called The North East Visually Impaired Tennis Club, (NEVITC).
Stephen, who is registered blind, is one of a small number of visually impaired coaches in the UK.
The game is facilitated by the use of special tennis balls manufactured in Japan, costing £6 each. The ball is larger than a normal tennis ball and contains a table tennis ball, which in turn has two or three ball bearings inside.
Service can be either over or under hand, and the tennis court dimensions vary according to the degree of blindness of each player.
The players can determine where the ball lands by the rattling sound and they are allowed two or three bounces before they have to try to return the ball. Like most things in life, this becomes easier with practice.
There are more than 300 players throughout the UK, and locally games are played at the Northumberland Club in Jesmond, as well as at venues in Sunderland, Stockton and York.
The participants treat the game as full-blooded sport, although some countries look upon the game as a form of rehabilitation for people who have recently suffered blindness.
Stephen explained that there are moves to try to have the sport included in the Paralympic Games in, hopefully, not too distant a time.
The main cost to players is the replacement of the tennis balls as up to 80 can be used in a tournament and the outer material picks up so much dirt that they become unusable.
In addition, accommodation and travelling costs to access tournaments make the sport quite expensive.
The main ethos of Lions clubs internationally is to maintain the organisation’s commitment to Helen Keller’s appeal that Lions be ‘knights of the blind’.
Stephen’s presentation underlined the difficulties faced by people with visual impairment.
It, therefore, gave Morpeth Lions Club President Ian Brown great pleasure to present a cheque for £200 to Stephen to assist with the continuing expenses of this sporting organisation.
If you, or anyone you know, is interested in becoming involved with visually impaired tennis you can contact NEVITC by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Morpeth Lions Club is a member of Lions International and serves the local community.
Members will offer help where it is needed and the club is able to provide financial assistance and manpower where necessary.
It regularly supports Morpeth Talking Newspaper and the Morpeth Northumbrian Gathering, as well as making donations to charity. As part of a group of Morpeth organisations, along with Rotary and Soroptimists, it raised thousands of pounds to help those affected by flooding.
Fund-raising takes the form of street collections, raffles, a fishing competition, meals and other events.
Members also enjoy self-funded social activities, which include barbecues, walks, dinners and educational visits.
The club meets in Morpeth Conservative Club on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month. New members are welcome.