Webinar recording: Bedfordshire Sight Loss Council Sport and Leisure VI forum

Did you miss Bedfordshire SLCs’ VI Forum? Catch up now!

Bedfordshire Sight Loss Council held a Sports and Leisure VI Forum on on 25 January, to discuss inclusive sports happening in Bedfordshire.

The VI forum was also an opportunity for attendees to have their say on making sports and leisure in the region more accessible to blind and partially sighted people. The forum also featured Paralympian, Roy Turnham who played blind football for England in 2012 and holds the title of two tennis National Championships.

Bedfordshire SLC engagement manager, Masuma Ali says: 

“Disabled people are twice as likely to be inactive compared to non-disabled people. The pandemic hasn’t helped matters and has seen the number of disabled people being active decrease. The VI forum is a great opportunity for blind and partially sighted people to start thinking about new year goals of taking part in physical activity and hear about what support is available.”


The panel

  • Steve Halton – Senior Countryside Officer, Central Bedfordshire Council,
  • Lisa Simpson – Leisure Development Officer Central Bedfordshire Council
  • Kate Neale – Event Director of Luton Wardown parkrun
  • Neil Frankel – Disability Tennis Manager, Riverside Tennis Club, Bedford
  • Roy Turnham – Professional blind footballer and Tennis champion


Senior Countryside Officer, Steve Halton wanted to encourage more blind and partially sighted people to attend their countryside site walks.

Find out more here

Kate Neale, event director of Luton Wardown parkrun wanted to encourage more blind and partially sighted people to get involved. Kate says: “No one comes last in a parkrun” 

Find out more here

Disability Tennis Manager, Neil Frankel from Riverside Tennis Club, talked about the fascinating history of blind tennis. He also talked about the No Barriers Programme which aims to inspire anyone to get involved in tennis.

Find out more here

When asked about what to expect at your first VI tennis session, said: “First, orientation, we’ll make sure you’re comfortable with your surroundings, a warm up, get you buddied up with other players, and then we just go for it – lot’s of fun!” 

Roy Turnham talked about his journey into sport and how playing sport with a visual impairment growing up & having to keep up with his peers helped him develop his greatest skill, his “ability to practice over and over again” His piece of advice to attendees was to: “Find a way of practicing in your home environment.”

He described the amazing experience of qualifying for the Paralympics:

“I finally had the opportunity to play the sport I love, I was finally on a level playing field, my hard work had paid off”

He encouraged webinar attendees to “Give the opportunities you’ve heard about today a try. There are skills to be learned from every sport”. 

On the main benefits of being involved in sports, Roy Turnham says “It’s the confidence that transfers into everything else you do in life. Being a good footballer or tennis player means having good spatial awareness, an awareness of your body, core stability” 


You can watch the webinar below

Accessible Sports Toolkit with UK Coaching

The greatest barrier to blind and partially sighted people participating in sport is confidence. Knowing that a leisure provider understands their needs, helps increase confidence and makes visually impaired people more likely to choose that place to do exercise.

UK Coaching, in partnership with Thomas Pocklington Trust, has created a toolkit for gym and leisure operators to support people with a visual impairment.

The toolkit is central to Sight Loss Councils’ work to #MakeHealthAccessible around the country.

We are asking leisure operators to encourage all their staff – from the front desk to their personal trainers – to get engaged with this training programme and make sport accessible in their venues.

Find out more here



Publication date: 03 February 2022

Back to all news

Back to top

Share this page