Local golfers raised over £2,000 for the National Autistic Society's Radlett Lodge School at a special charity day on Monday 17 September at Mid Herts Golf Club. The money raised will help the school continue to expand its golfing programme, so even more autistic children and young people can benefit.
The programme, which involves lessons from a professional golfer, has been running for three years and has proved very popular with students. As well as helping them to exercise and get fresh air, teachers have also noticed improvements in students' confidence, concentration and vital social skills like turn-taking and listening.
Some of the school's older students now regularly go to the local driving range, and three students have even played at Mid Herts Golf Club.
The project is only possible thanks to financial support from a number of people and organisations, including the Golf Foundation, Sport England, as well as Mid Herts Golf Club Hertfordshire Golf Development who put on the recent charity golf day. As well as a golfing competition, this involved a dinner and a raffle for donated prizes.
The school has also just been selected by be the Porters Park Golf Club Lady Captain’s Charity for 2019.
The National Autistic Society has been providing specialist education to children and young people on the autism spectrum for over 50 years. The charity currents runs eight schools, including Radlett Lodge School which opened in 1974. The school caters for up to 55 pupils in its day school and also runs a modern, purpose-built home called the Lodge in the school grounds where children stay on a weekly, termly or flexi-boarding basis
More than 1 in 100 people are on the autism spectrum, including an estimated 120,000 school-aged children in England. Every autistic child is different and finding the right support for each individual is essential. Some children on the autism spectrum are able to excel in mainstream schools while others require extensive support in specialist settings, like the National Autistic Society’s Radlett Lodge School.
One of the senior students involved in the golf project said: “I started playing golf when I was 15, learning all the basics in the school hall like the younger children are doing now. And because I progressed very well, I now play every week at the driving range and putting green.
"For me playing golf makes me feel calm and confident at the same time, I really enjoy it and have my own set of clubs.”
Jeremy Keeble, Principal of the National Autistic Society’s Radlett Lodge School, said: “It’s wonderful seeing so many students willing to get involved and having fun playing golf. It’s proved to be brilliant as both an individual and group activity and has helped our students grow in confidence and develop their social skills, by practising things like turn taking, listening and patience. It’s also helped our students to integrate socially, increased their wider motivation and reduced instances of students becoming overwhelmed.
“None of this would have been possible without the generous support of so many people and organisations, not least Mid Herts Golf Club and the Hertfordshire Golf Development Group who put on the brilliant charity golf day for us and have helped in so many other ways.
“A huge thank you as well to other local golf clubs who have contributed and to Sport England and the Golf Foundation for all their support – and to Porters Park Golf Club for making us their Lady Captain’s Charity for 2019. And finally, to Simon and Sue for choosing us as their Captains’ Charity, Scott our golf pro, and Rowena Hemmings (Hertfordshire Golf Director for Golf Development) for being the driving force behind the project.
“We’re always trying to find new ways to help prepare our students for the world and make sure they’re as independent as possible. So I’m delighted this project is proving such a success.”