MEMBERS of a thriving and friendly tennis club in the Cirencester area were delighted to received an award last week. 

Hill & Valley Tennis Club is described by its members as a thriving, friendly and welcoming two court club in Chedworth which 'provides players of all ages and standards the opportunity to improve their game and to play socially and competitively'. 

The club entered their newly introduced Walking Tennis into the Connecting Communities category for this year's annual Lawn Tennis Association awards. 

The Gloucestershire County Volunteer Connecting Communities Award was presented to the club by the broadcaster and previous British tennis number one Andrew Castle.

The South and South West regional Award which they have also won will be presented to them at Queen's Club in June. 

After attending a Walking Tennis workshop at East Glos Club in Cheltenham, committee member Caroline Baker - an ex-nurse was immediately struck by the wellbeing benefits this new version of the game could offer those with restricted mobility due to a health condition or those looking to reconnect with tennis after injury.

Caroline identified several club members she thought would be interested, but also wanted to open it out to the wider community aware that since the pandemic many people’s physical and mental health has been adversely affected.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: A free taster day was held last June to gauge interest. 

Ten people attended that first session and it was so well received that it quickly became established as a weekly event.

A club spokesperson said: "Even when there’s been a chill in the air the warmth and camaraderie has never dipped, giving people who struggle with loneliness or mental health a real weekly fill-up.

"Each session concludes with tea and cake, so everyone gets the chance to get to know each other on and off the court.

"The sessions are free for members with a nominal charge of £3 for non members.

"Since that first session in June our walking family continues to grow and we now have 15 players attending regularly.

"As is so often the case in a small club the success of the sessions comes down to the timeless enthusiasm of one person - retired teacher Hilary Swan.

"She has volunteered her time to run the sessions each week and her ability to connect with each person, encourage and provide a relaxing, fun environment has been amazing.

"Each session begins with a ‘walk and talk’ around the courts, then gentle warm up exercises and stretches, followed by drills to hone skills, concluding with a mix of fun team games.

"With a wide range of skill levels amongst the players, it has been a particular joy to see the stronger players supporting those with impairments or just a lack of experience.

"The sessions are held each Friday afternoon from 2.30 to 4pm with tea and cake or biscuits afterwards.

"The club is keen to encourage more to attend and benefit from this gentler game of tennis.

"It is open to non members and is suitable for anyone who would like to improve their mobility or rehab after an injury, it is for all levels of player including beginners."

For more information visit - or call Caroline on 07733 322176