Linburn Centre archery instructor receives coaching award for work with veterans with sight loss

Press Release | 04/06/2019

Scottish War Blinded’s Linburn Centre archery instructor has received a disability archery award, commending him on his coaching of veterans who have sight loss.

Scottish Archery presented Tim Searles with the Shelly Phillip Disability Achievement Award, recognising his dedication and skill to helping veterans with sight loss experience the sport.

The accolade is awarded to the individual, coach, archer or volunteer who it is felt has had the greatest impact in the area of archery for people with a disability within Scottish Archery in the past 12 months.

Tim works as a Centre Officer at Scottish War Blinded’s West Lothian based activity hub for veterans with vision impairments, the Linburn Centre.

He started helping the charity’s veterans access archery through the Royal Company of Archers in 2012 before qualifying as an Archery Leader through Archery GB in 2013.

The Linburn Centre has had an indoor archery range at Linburn since 2016, when Tim established the Scottish War Blinded Archery Club and qualified as a Level 1 Coach. 

 “I enjoy introducing our veterans to a sport many thought they would never be able to try and then helping them learn and develop into competent archers,” Tim commented.

“A key part is the fun and good craic we have during our sessions and seeing people realise their own personal goals.

“I think archery has proved popular at Linburn because it is slightly different and personally challenging. It is also very rewarding when everything comes together and you have a good session.

“I hope doing archery has given Scottish War Blinded members a sense of self-confidence and independence where they are able to enjoy competing against themselves and others in a socially relaxed and friendly environment.”

Laura Baxter, Club Development Officer at Scottish Archery, attended the Linburn Centre to present Tim with his award.

Laura commented: “Tim’s nomination was a clear stand out due to the work that he does with ex-services personnel. 

“It was felt that he would be a worthy winner due to the amount of time that he puts into teaching the sport as well as the attention to detail to make adaptations if and when necessary to cater for visual impairments.

Before the presentation, Laura also had the opportunity to observe an archery session.

“I have been so impressed by how calm the atmosphere is here when the veterans are shooting,” Laura added.

“I am in awe of Tim’s patience and his consideration for the veterans here taking part. Watching him make small adaptions, it makes a great difference.

“The veterans taking part were brilliant, great to see many of them hit the gold! We are really keen to strengthen the links between Scottish Archery and Scottish War Blinded.”

And the Scottish War Blinded veterans who attend the Linburn Centre were equally as delighted to hear the news of Tim’s award.

National Service veteran, Ken Simpson, 82, from Falkirk, is a regular attendee at the Linburn Centre and is now a Lothian Disability Sport Champion in archery after getting started in the sport with Tim two years ago.

Ken, who has glaucoma, said: “I’d have never picked up a bow and arrow if it wasn’t for Tim, I had never done anything like archery or shooting before coming to Linburn, not even during my service.

“He brought me on from nothing, and now I am competing in local competitions. Before taking up archery I had never won anything in my life, so now to have gold medals at home for my archery makes me feel very proud.

“Among many other great things, Tim’s patience with us is unlimited. He doesn’t ever push us, he takes his time to help us along with getting our position correct and adapts whatever we require to make it work.

“He has discipline too and because of this I’ve been taught a routine, and signals to be mindful of so I know what is happening at all times. That’s really helped me when I go to external competitions. And with Tim, he is so self-effacing. I’m pleased he’s been recognised for what he does for us in archery.”

Archery has proved to be very popular amongst the charity’s national membership – the activity also takes place at Scottish War Blinded’s Paisley based activity hub, the Hawkhead Centre.

And Scottish War Blinded veterans are discovering the sport at clubs across Scotland with the support of the charity’s outreach workers too.

Scottish War Blinded gives free support to former servicemen and women of all ages, no matter if they lost their sight during or after service.

 The Linburn Centre and Hawkhead Centre offer activities with transport provided free of charge. Call 0800 035 6409 to refer a veteran to the charity or visit www.scottishwarblinded.org