January Club of the Month!
From small beginnings over 50 years ago to being one of the leading UK snowsports facilities today, Norfolk Snowsports Club continues to help people in unique and inspiring ways.
The club, located in Trowse, Norfolk, is home to a 170-metre main slope, beginner slopes, waves and moguls and a modern Alpine Clubhouse.
Fortnightly Adaptive skiing sessions ensure that anyone, regardless of physical or mental ability, can feel the rush of skiing down ‘Trowse Mountain’, as it is known by all at the club.
The member-owned club is a 'CASC', a Community Amateur Sports Club with over 3000 members.
The 25 club instructors and other volunteers who support the adaptive sessions have training and experience in introducing skiing to anyone that has additional needs that might make it difficult for them to follow the usual progression of ski lessons.
The recent award of a Toyota Parasport grant has helped to fund the purchase of new sit-skis for use by paraplegic skiers. The club also caters for sensory impaired, learning impaired and neurologically diverse children and adults.
Adaptive skiing coordinator and instructor Richard Roberts has been volunteering for 12 years, during which time he has seen remarkable growth within both the club and the skiers.
He said: “Over a long period, you notice the development of skiers that you might not see in just a week or two.
“We have skiers here whose legs turned to jelly when they first went on to the slope. Now they can ski from the top, carefully but confidently.”
One thing that the club can also boast is people travelling from far and wide to join in, something Richard prides the club on.
“Not all ski centres have an adaptive group and I think people like what we do here,” he added.
“It’s a very nice community, we have good facilities and we’re at a convenient time of the week on a Sunday afternoon when people can get here.”
One person who travels long distance to be a part of the action is Birmingham-based John Churcher, a blind participant who requires a sight guide as well as the volunteers.
He said: “I think this is probably one of the best slopes that there is.
“The volunteers are very good, they look after me and that’s what I want, somebody who can give me the hints and tips that I can’t see myself. They’re really good at that.”
Another who benefits from the bi-weekly adaptive ski programme is Rory Fairfoot, a non-verbal 24-year-old with autism.
His mother, Jenny Mayne, has seen Rory reap the rewards from the continued support of the volunteers over a sustained period.
She said “Rory has been coming here for about nine or ten years and it’s absolutely fantastic for him.
“He’s a very physically able young man but he’s got severe learning difficulties, he’s non-verbal and he understands very little but once he grasps a skill, he’s usually quite good at it.
“The volunteers here have been really good with him and taught him how to ski, so he’s now a really competent skier. It’s great.”
The club started the new year on a high by being named Parasport Club of the Month for January, an accolade which left Roberts humbled.
“It’s a bit of a shock and really unexpected,” he said.
“But it’s a great tribute to the volunteers who come here and the community of skiers who come here every week.”