SPECIAL Olympics is celebrating being part of Redditch for 30 incredible years.
It all began in 1988 when Elaine Daykin started an after school club for children who had what was then called ‘special needs’.
She’d been frustrated by the lack of activities for her younger son Richard, who had downs syndrome and was eight.
In fact when she looked she couldn’t find any provision for those who with special needs.
It became clear that what was needed was space, time and some structure to burn off their high energy levels.
Backed by a local company, the then Play Council, former mayor Betty Passingham and with help from Pitcheroak School, she started a weekly after school session.
“The group, then named Worcestershire Special Olympics, moved to the YMCA in Church Hill and continued to offer weekly training sessions, taking in more sport and for a wider age group,” said Elaine.
“We started entering more and more events across the country and competed in swimming, athletics gymnastics and football to name just some.
“In 1993 due to the success of the group, it was decided that as a county wide group, the logistics of training, travelling and having a steering committee to manage what had become a charitable organisation, was becoming difficult to manage on a voluntary basis, so the decision was taken to become a Redditch-based group focusing on the town and the surrounding area.”
Soon Special Olympics Redditch was offering training several times a week with separate football, gymnastics and swimming sessions.
“Since 1995 we’ve been based at Trinity High School where we can offer even more sports and better facilities,” added Elaine, who in 2014 was awarded the British Empire Medal for her services to disability sport.
“Membership is now nearly 40, giving more people the opportunity to enter local, national, European and even international competition!
“Like all the athletes who have been part of our group, we have also had the pleasure of training and supporting many volunteers. Some have continued with us and others have gone onto further their own development in a professional capacity.
“From the very beginning to the present we have been self – funding with charitable status and over the years we have raised thousands of pounds to provide sports training and competitions.”
For the future, the group will continue to provide sports training and competition for people with intellectual disabilities in Redditch – and is looking forward to the next 30 years.