A MAJOR European golf tournament is set to return to the North-East this year, and a charity event will be staged beforehand to raise funds for Help For Heroes.
Warwick Brindle, chairman of Rockliffe Hall, in Hurworth, near Darlington, announced yesterday (Tuesday, April 8) that the English Senior Open golf tournament would take place from August 22 to 24, with Phoenix House Recovery Centre in Catterick Garrison as its charity partner.
In the pre-tournament professional-amateur event, Rockliffe Hall will be sponsoring a team of veterans from Phoenix House, who will undergo a period of intensive golf coaching between now and August, to bring them up to pro-am standard.
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Professional Paul Wesselingh, who was crowned 2013’s Order of Merit winner, will put a group of six wounded, injured and sick veterans and service personnel through their paces, before the final three are chosen to make up a team with Mr Wesselingh.
Help For Heroes Phoenix House staff members Michaela Slay, events co-ordinator, and Rob Hood, support programme manager, said the partnership between Phoenix House and Rockliffe Hall was very exciting and provided a great opportunity to inspire centre users.
The Northern Echo is running a campaign to raise £100,000 for a new performing arts facility at Phoenix House.
Editor Peter Barron set up the meeting between Phoenix House and Rockliffe Hall, and from there the idea to hold a charity golf tournament using a team of veterans came about.
Mrs Slay said: “Proceeds from the event will go towards the £100,000 appeal for a new performing arts centre for Phoenix House.
“But getting involved in this will also inspire the guys at Phoenix House and challenge them to take part, and hopefully even win, with the help of Paul Wesselingh.”
Mr Hood said: “We will be starting the selection process soon and by the end of June we will have a team of six that will get intensive training at Rockliffe with Paul.
“Some of the guys at Phoenix House will never have played golf before so it will be really good to see how they take to it.”
Mr Wesselingh said: “I’m really looking forward to getting involved with training the veterans from Phoenix House.
“I have trained people with disabilities before, including people missing an arm, leg, and someone who was blind, and they managed to play amazingly well.
“It will be incredibly inspiring for me to play with the Phoenix House team – they are heroes.”