Yesterday, I made the relatively short journey down to Garforth for an event that the poster called “Smash It”; a day where some of the best badminton talent in the country would gather in West Yorkshire to support the Jenny Wallwork Foundation to help raise awareness and understanding of mental health issues.
The day was organised by Jenny Wallwork (you may have guessed that bit), a former England international and Commonwealth Games medallist (in Delhi in 2010). Jenny is a genuinely inspiring young woman and if you don’t know her personal story, I would certainly recommend that you click on the link and visit her Foundation’s website….
Jenny and I had met earlier in the year for a few games of badminton as part of my ongoing challenges on behalf of Time to Change—well I say “games”, but “lessons” might be more appropriate!—and a couple of months later I was delighted to be able to donate half of the funds raised from my 12-hour darts marathon to support Jenny’s work.
The facilities at Garforth are excellent, and I was particularly relieved to arrive in one piece after my windscreen wiper blade had snapped off mid-wipe the previous morning and I was pretty nervous about a repeat performance as I trundled down a decidedly damp M1.
Thankfully all was well; it was good to see Jenny again; I was introduced to her parents, Brian and Jill, before having a long and hugely enjoyable chat with Adam Whitehead, Olympic swimmer (and the 2002 Commonwealth 100m breaststroke gold medallist), now seemingly carving out a successful career as a DJ.
Well he was in charge of the music yesterday….
There was loads going on. Four badminton courts were in constant use; there was a raffle, a quiz, and plenty of activities for the kids. My semi-athletic contribution to proceedings was to take part in three games of doubles. That the first two resulted in victories was solely down to my respective partners, Kate Robertshaw and Sarah Milne; but it was a pleasure to be able to share a court with such fantastic players.
The second game in particular (against Alex Langley and Nick Coulson) was both close and, for this member of the quartet, exhausting; and I’m using fatigue and aching hips as excuses for my final outing (alongside Jenny) having been accepted as my entry for the mannequin challenge.
I really hope the event raised a sizeable sum for the Jenny Wallwork Foundation. It must have taken so much work to organise the day, but it was good to see so many people in attendance; and everyone looked like they were having a great time. By half past one however, it was time for me to hobble back to my car and see if the windscreen wiper was still attached… and still working.
It was… which is certainly more than I can say for my hips this afternoon!
Richard... Jack of some trades... you can guess the rest