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Steve needs your help to compete in Cape Town Games

 
Created on 27/07/2016 @ 17:38
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A former Welshpool man who was left blind as a child by a brain tumour has been selected to represent England in the Visually Impaired World Bowls Championships in South Africa – but he needs your help to get there.

Steve Cook, who lived in Welshpool and worked for Powys County Council, is completely blind and has been playing bowls since 2007 and this year beat the world champion.

This led to his England selection, but when he was told how much it would cost to go, his dreams were quickly put to an end.

Because of lack of funding and sponsorship for the sport, Steve, who now lives in Saltash, Plymouth, needs to raise £4,000 to cover all manner of things, including flights and accommodation.

"To play for England is the pinnacle," said Steve, who also plays blind cricket for Somerset, "but it just costs too much."Channing
When Steve asked his bank if he could borrow money to fund the trip, his application was turned down.

Feeling downhearted, Steve visited The Chance Wine Bar and Restaurant   in Plymouth, where he regularly attends quiz nights, and told the owners about his sticky situation.

Husband and wife Jamie and Paula MacLeod-Johnstone, who run the restaurant, suggested setting up a JustGiving page, and told Steve they would also host fundraising nights to raise the cash needed.

Steve said: "They sat me down and we started talking about arranging fundraising events . They pushed me and gave me the incentive."ucy Davie

Steve has been playing bowls since 2007 but didn't start seriously until 2011, when he began competing in national tournaments. But it's far from easy for him.

When Steve was just five years old, a brain tumour damaged his optic nerves, leaving him permanently blind.
"I've had a lot of time to get used to it," he said, "and I play a lot of sports now."

He added: "Bowls is very poorly funded as a blind sport, even though most others, such as golf and cricket, are funded by other sources. Bowls just doesn't have that backing, but does have a big following.

"I have a director with me when I'm playing, and they tell me where the bowls end up so I can visualise it in my mind.

"I train about once a week and it does take a lot of practise. I prefer playing in this weather when it's nice and sunny and hot though!

"I've been told I need to let them know if I can compete by December 31, else England will be one man short.

"The championships are in Cape Town next March and last two weeks, so I will have to pay for hotels and flights and the rest of it. But it's what I want to do. It is going to be tough; it is something like 18 games in 10 days."

If you would like to donate go to.

https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/TheChancelSupportingSteve?utm_campaign=post-pledge-mobile&utm_content=TheChancelSupportingSteve&utm_medium=socpledgemobile&utm_source=facebook&utm_term=pga7rJKwZ

Story and pictures courtesy of The Plymouth Herald

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