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Two Newcastle residents who have won national accolades for volunteering have said investment into tennis facilities and opportunities for more people to play can change lives across the region.

Wendy Glasper was named Volunteer of the Year at the 2017 British Tennis Awards and received a Pride of Light Award from Prime Minister Theresa May MP in recognition of her work with a successful network of visually impaired tennis sessions in the region. Wendy set up and runs the foremost VI tennis programme in the country, with over five weekly sessions now running in the region off the back of Wendy’s first VI club, which runs at Sunderland Tennis Centre and the Northumberland Club (Newcastle).

Wendy said: “The importance of indoor facilities for these VI groups cannot be underestimated.

“Playing indoors means the groups can play tennis all year round in a sheltered venue. The venues are so welcoming as well, so we can thoroughly enjoy meeting and catching up, as well as playing tennis.

“It would be wonderful for my VI programmes if we had access to even more indoor facilities – I’d love to grow the number of sessions we offer and get people from further afield involved in tennis.”

Rachel Doyle began volunteering as part of the award-winning Northumbria Student Volunteer Programme and feels her university experience has been hugely enhanced by the range of opportunities provided.

She said: “Once I began volunteering in tennis, I found a new motivation for my course and new ideas about what to do after university. With more tennis facilities and programmes available around the region, it’s really exciting that there can be more opportunities than ever for students like me to get involved in volunteering.”

Across the North East of England, only 10% of the population currently play regularly, despite more than 1 in 5 being keen to take up the sport. Barriers to participation include fewer daylight hours in the autumn and winter months, and rain interrupting play.

Joanna Cunliffe, Regional Participation Manager the North East region at the LTA, added: “The dedication of Wendy and Rachel really demonstrates the importance of volunteers to tennis in the region, and we’re very proud of the awards they have achieved.

“It is a great example of how access to good facilities and making it easier for people to play increases participation.

“Through Transforming British Tennis Together, the opportunities are there for communities across the North East to partner with the LTA and benefit from this record level of funding to improve their local facilities, so we’re encouraging them and local authorities to get in touch and tell us what they need to help get more people playing.”

A representative of Newcastle City Council said: “We are very proud that two of our amazing volunteers have been recognised in national awards for the hard work and time they have committed to tennis in the region. We enjoy working closely with the LTA and other partners to help develop local tennis projects and support clubs in their delivery of community tennis. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the LTA and the exciting opportunities the Transforming British Tennis Together initiative will help us deliver more sustainable and accessible opportunities for everyone to take part in the sport.”

Transforming British Tennis Together aims to reduce the barriers to playing tennis by doubling the number of floodlit and covered courts across the UK over the next ten years, increasing available playing hours. The initiative will also see the LTA work with local communities across the region to:

  • Install online booking and entry systems so everyone can book a tennis court easily from their mobile phone, computer or tablet;
  • Refurbish courts, clubhouses and other social spaces to ensure players have a great experience every time they visit; and
  • Support other innovative and creative ideas, such as Emma Garrett’s Kiosk at the Park, that meet local demand.

The LTA is calling on tennis clubs, parks, local government, volunteers, coaches and businesses across the region to come together and register their interest in bidding for the funds to transform their local tennis courts. For more information visitwww.lta.org.uk/TBTT. There are also opportunities to join the LTA at regional roadshow events in the region on 18 and 19 October 2017 to find out more about Transforming British Tennis Together and what the investment can do in local areas. To sign up for a roadshow event visit www.lta.org.uk/venue-management/facilities-advice/

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