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Top award for Staffordshire golf coach
June 21, 2011

A Staffordshire golf coach has won a top national award for his work with special needs children.

Craig Thomas, from The Academy, was presented with the Golf Foundation's Burroughs Award by Europe's Ryder Cup winning captain Colin Montgomerie.

The Burroughs Award is for those people who support young golfers as they deal with adversity.

Commenting on his award, Thomas says: "I wanted to take away the barriers that are stopping these individuals from taking part in golf.

"Seeing someone who thought they would never hit a golf ball doing just that is a priceless feeling and makes all the hard work worthwhile."

He added: "Having spent a lot of time as a child with my grandmother who worked in day centres and being around people with special needs, I decided this was an area I would like to focus on.

"I wanted to find a way to put something back into the sport that I have got such a lot out of."

The 30 years-old, who is also county development officer for the Cheshire Golf Partnership, was one of the first to qualify as a PGA professional through the foundation degree programme at The Belfry and has since gone on to achieve AA status - the highest available.

He started to work with special needs children in 2010 and now works with four disability sport and leisure development groups, including one in Newcastle Under Lyme, where he is the vice-chairman.

He has worked closely with the Staffordshire Sports Partnership and Mark Fosbrook, the disability awareness officer. He helped establish a programme through five primary and secondary schools using Tri Golf and X-Treme, culminating in a festival at Two Rivers School in Tamworth.

Formerly head professional at The Chase Golf Club in Staffordshire, Thomas is one of three founder members of the Golf Academy, based at The Range, in Essington, and Greenfield Golf Club near Wolverhampton, which has recently been awarded RangeMark.

The Academy has concentrated its efforts on opening up the sport to all-comers and is working closely with Cannock and Stafford Council to help form a golf development team to help get people from Cannock into golf.

"I believe it is important that we make golf as accessible and affordable to people to give them the best possible opportunities to take up the sport," he added.

Sean Hammill, county development officer for the Staffordshire Golf Partnership, said: "Craig has done a fantastic job in leading the work of the Partnership's disability programme and his award is well deserved and a fitting reflection on the work done to encourage people of all ages and abilities into golf."

For more details of the activities in Staffordshire visit www.staffsgolfpartnership.com

The Staffordshire Golf Partnership is a collaboration of a number of stakeholders in the sport including the English Golf Union, The English Women's Golf Association, the PGA, the Golf Foundation and Sport England.

In Staffordshire the partnership is supported by the Staffordshire Ladies County Golf Association, the Staffordshire Union of Golf Clubs and the Staffordshire PGA.

For more information on the work of the Staffordshire Golf Partnership contact Sean Hammill, County Development Officer, Staffordshire County Golf Partnership.

Website: http://www.staffsgolfpartnership.com/








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