A group of seniors is rekindling the joy of knocking a ball about at an informal games morning held every Friday in Barrow.
Silver Sports was started two years ago by Barrow Baptist Church and has grown in popularity, with about 20 people
enjoying table tennis, pool, carpet bowls and darts every week. It’s a lot of fun and enables people of all abilities and fitness
levels to have a few games and socialise. The environment is very forgiving and newcomers who arrive with rusty sports skills,
or none at all, are soon put at ease.
Among the players is Richard Hudson, secretary for the English Schools Table Tennis (part of Table Tennis England), who is always happy to offer a bit of stroke correction and encouragement. Richard says table tennis for the over 60s has grown enormously in Britain in recent years as most people have played it at some point in their lives.
“People arrive here saying they haven’t played since their teens and it is amazing how quickly they improve,” he says. “For some people, at first, even bending to pick up the ball is beneficial and the better they get at it, the more athletic they become. It is good for self-confidence and these players show that the competitive instinct is certainly not impaired by age.” Doubles is more social than singles and scoring takes some mastering. Table tennis is thought to improve memory and problem solving skills, co-ordination and balance – and it is low-impact.
The idea came from church member Paul Adamson, who, after retiring in 2016, looked for a table tennis club in the area. There wasn’t one, so Minister Graham Dunn suggested offering the sport once a week in the function room called The Gap. Its popularity grew and more sports were added.
Founder member Linda Wall said it is sociable, friendly and suitable for all abilities. Most people are over 60, a few a bit younger, and the oldest is 87. Although Silver Sports is open for two hours, people can come and leave when they want to.
A pool table is the newest addition and is enjoyed by many – you’ll even see the church ministers popping in for a quick game of table tennis or pool.
Carpet bowls is popular too. Carol Hilsdon says she has never been interested in sport but since coming with her husband Peter, she has grown to love it.
“It has helped us both physically and we love the camaraderie. We came for the carpet bowls but are now playing table tennis and darts too. Peter enjoys pool as well.”
Jean Willson used to be in a darts team, and says she loves playing on Fridays at the church.
Minister Graham Dunn says Barrow Baptist is a community church that likes to draw different parts of the community together. “We run various Seniors’ programmes, including Tuesday Live (2pm), Tuesday cafe (hot meal from 12.30), Luncheon Club and dances (at various times in the year) and Holiday at Home (6 to 12 August).
“We wanted to offer something geared towards the ‘active retired’ so we started Silver Sports. We have been very pleased with the response and it is proving to be a very popular addition to our programme.” Silver Sports is on every Friday from 10am to 12 noon in The Gap room, behind the church, in Beveridge Street. Entry is £2 and tea coffee and biscuits are supplied.
Enquiries: 01509 416603.
A Miles for Smiles sponsored cycle event saw teams of Barrow riders cycling varying distances – an elite team that rode 300 miles to Wales and back, others who did daily 50-mile rides and a family fun ride. The May event, organised by Barrow Baptist Church, raised £9,124 for children living in poverty in Brazil, through Compassion UK.