A volunteering match
From marriage to matchplay – how one couple gave back to disability golf. Sue Robertson tells their story.
“I was 38 and a single mum of two. I met Graeme on datingdirect.com, but unbeknown to us we lived less than a mile apart in Wokingham. After a fair bit of correspondence we decided to meet up the day after Graeme’s 40th birthday.
Typical us, we couldn’t decide where to meet so I ended up just inviting him over to watch the tennis together; and when he walked through my door at 6’4”, tall dark and handsome, I was totally smitten!
Graeme has primary progressive MS. He told me about his MS before we met up. On other blind dates he’d been on (there’d been quite a few apparently!), the ladies ran a mile.
To me though, Graeme was this incredible amazing man I had fallen in love with and having MS was just a thing we’d have to deal with together. He had two cats and I had two children, which seemed a fair exchange, and he asked me to marry him on Valentine’s day 2004.
Staying the course
Graeme was previously a keen sportsman – a good golfer off a 13 handicap, as well as playing cricket and football, so his diagnosis with MS 15 years earlier must have been particularly cruel. However, his competitive, fighting spirit from sport has pulled him through so far.
Initially, Graeme would hold my arm to steady his balance, but his MS slowly progressed over the years and now he can’t walk across a room unaided. He always worked out at the gym or swam since I’d known him, but I could tell from the way he talked about golf that he really missed it. On the other hand, I knew absolutely nothing about golf other than watching it on TV.
We’d already started going to a sports club for disabled people on a Saturday morning. We started using a wheelchair so we could get into the sports centre and play a bit of table tennis like a couple of teenagers! At the same time Graeme saw an advert for a taster session for disabled golf and fancied just going along to see what it was all about.
Well that re-ignited his passion for life. Along with our co-founders Stan and Chris we formed the Disabled Golf Association↑. I volunteer as Digital Marketing Director and Graeme is employed as National Events Coordinator and has Captained Team England 2011-2015.
We have approaching 900 members across the UK with all types of disabilities; and yes, I was persuaded to give it a go and actually am turning into quite a reasonable lady golfer apparently!”
In December 2015 Sue received a call from Rory McIlroy at BBC SPOTY to say a #BigThankYou for her contribution in sport.
– Would you like to help out in disability golf? Get in touch here.
– Passionate about local sport? Find a club that needs volunteers near you.