Tucked away behind the busy A31 dual carriageway is the St Leonards and St Ives village hall, home to the Ashley Heath WI and their newly formed Walking Netball group.
A new community of women have had the opportunity to find their place in the sport thanks to the energy of Gaynor Waring, WI Walking Netball Ambassador, and Sue Coleman, Ashley Heath WI Chair in working with the St Leonards and St Ives Parish Council to secure netball posts and access to the village hall.
The initiative is an incredible success with over 50 ladies participating throughout the first 15 sessions and each week there are over 20 attendees with many ladies in their late 70s/early 80s.
Most have not played netball since school and came along for their first session out of curiosity, yet they are now hooked and netball Tuesdays have become the highlight of the week.
Tuesday afternoons make my heart sing, hearing the laughter and chatter and seeing the improvement week by week is just unbelievable – Sarah Clark, Dorset Netball Development Officer
The group do a warm up then work on basic ball skills and movements, as well as defending and shooting activities. Each week, they do some match play and participants are encouraged to join in with as much or as little as they want to.
The group have noticed improvement in their fitness, their balance, their coordination and most importantly, in their wellbeing.
Their Netball Family really is a family affair with mum and daughter June and Heather Laird attending together most weeks, as well as June’s granddaughters, Annabelle Laird and Charlotte Court, who have also participated.
Although this is a Women’s Institute group, it’s also open to the St Leonards and St Ives community which has led to new friendships and also new members of the WI.
To make sure the popular group can continue to run, Jenny Elliot, Catriona Johnson and Susan Carter attended a Walking Netball Host course in October and will take over leading the sessions with the support of EN Netball Development Officer Sarah Clark.
Walking Netball is a one of a kind experience and gives access to a whole world of fun, activity and lots of laughter. Brought to you by a specially trained Walking Netball Host, the physical and mental benefits are endless, you’ll be supported and welcomed every step of the way. Find your nearest session.