A team comprising people with learning disabilities has celebrated its sixth season competing in a local skittles league.
The mixed-sex team, named Quick Exit, competes in Bristol’s Fishponds Skittles League and play weekly evening pub matches through the season with a portable bowling ramp being their only aid.
The team, who all have different needs, play their home games at Oldbury Court Inn, in Fishponds, and first came together in 2007 under the guidance of Alan Jewell, a senior support worker at Brandon Trust, a charity which supports people with learning disabilities.
Jewell originally organised a weekly social skittles event in nearby Thornbury for people supported by Brandon Trust, but the group decided to take the next step by entering division four of their local league.
“We had a few problems and negative comments at the start but, on the whole, we have had a positive reaction and feel totally included,” said Jewell.
“It’s good to see the enjoyment from the people taking part. The positive friendship built with other teams over the years is inspiring.”
League secretary, Robin Tanner, said: “They have been members since 2007 and made many friends along the way. Everybody has accepted them, even in cup games, where they play different divisions.”
Bryan Hopkins, a rival competitor from Ambulance Mixed team, explained: “We play Quick Exit, they are a great group of people and their enthusiasm, including the staff, is refreshing.
“We always look forward to playing this team as it’s an enjoyable evening, very sporting and they are treated like any other team in the league.”
Jewell admits that winning isn’t everything to the team – although they win on average six times per season – but Quick Exit also gives team members with learning disabilities have more opportunities.
“The team is part of the community. They love taking part, and meeting new people. It promotes more independence and it’s helping remove any stereotypes the public might have had.
“We love attending the end of season presentation evenings, where the applause and cheers from the other teams is fantastic and proof of our inclusion. We all come away with a real sense of success.”