‘I didn’t realise what was possible when people lost their sight, but now, I know what’s out there; there’s so much you can do!’
Wilbert Williams, an avid bowls tournaments player, shares his journey with Metro Blind Sport.
Recently Wilbert took over as our bowls sport lead, and he is an excellent ambassador, encouraging, welcoming, and a natural at supporting new players learn blind and partially sighted bowls. We are lucky to have him!
Fully sighted until 2015, Wilbert was a bus driver for TfL for over 20 years until his eyesight gradually deteriorated, leading to a visit to the eye hospital. Diagnosed with Glaucoma, one of the leading causes of sight loss in the UK, Wilbert took early medical retirement.
Wilbert wanted to do more and keep active. He found just what he needed with the help of the RNIB and the Beyond Sight Loss Group of Tower Hamlet’s ‘Introduction to bowls taster session’ delivered by Metro’s bowls sport lead Eric Gallagher.
Since then, Wilbert has been one of the most recognised faces amongst the charity.
For Wilbert, taking part in a low effort activity was top of his list when picking a sport.
‘I used to watch bowls and liked how it was a gentler sport than the others with not too much exertion! … and I said to myself, I want to get involved in that and give it a try. That’s where I came across Metro and been playing ever since.’
Six years on, Wilbert is a prominent bowls player and keen archer and shared why it’s so important to him to be involved in each of the sports
‘The social side of it (bowls) is great, everyone is friendly, and it’s good to get out and about, see other people. I enjoy the tournaments too, as you meet loads of different visually impaired people from across the country and find out about their stories… winning the tournament is fun too, but for me, that is just a bonus of taking part! … then there’s archery which I go to mainly because it’s a lot of fun!’
Wilbert also commented on the benefits of taking part regularly.
‘‘I have improved a lot since I first started, it’s good to just turn up sometimes and see the difference in playing, but I don’t let it get to my head!’
Wilbert highlighted ‘it’s good because Metro supply all the equipment, so everything’s ready to go as soon as you turn up’… everyone who works for Metro are also approachable too, so it’s really easy to talk to you guys and get help when we need it, the management of everything is great!
As with almost all of our members who were unable to take part in the sports they love, Wilbert made a specific mention of how the recent lockdowns affected his mood
‘At first, with last year, it was horrible as I am a sociable person, I like to go out, go to games and speak with people, so that was really hard …but now it’s getting better it’s nice to get out again and play’.
Wilbert has intentions to travel once he gets the chance to do so
‘I’ve always wanted to go up to Scotland, I’m not usually one for travelling, but I do like visiting there, so looking forward to that!’!’
For those who have recently lost their sight or have never made that first step yet, Wilbert emphasised not to be afraid
‘although your sight isn’t what it used to be, it shouldn’t stop you from doing what you used to do or try something new… I didn’t realise what was possible when people lost their sight, but now, I know what’s out there. There’s so much you can do. These things can happen to you at any time, but you mustn’t let it get you down!’
From a regular bowler to a Sport Lead and notable member of Metro Blind Sport, Wilbert is an excellent example of how easy it is to participate in sports or physical activities and try something new.
If anyone is tempted to join us or just wants to know more about blind and partially sighted bowls, please get in touch with Wilbert Williams
Contact: email@example.com or call 07956 352 199
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