The Bury Bombers have just celebrated their 20th anniversary and have reflected on the club’s impact on disability sports in the area during this time.
It began as a junior club to give a physical outlet to an active youngster in a wheelchair, when founding member Jill Anderson realised there were no suitable clubs in Bury St Edmunds for children in wheelchairs like her son Hugh.
So the wheelchair club was born — as a junior club — in 1997 and was the only one in the Eastern region at the time.
Although the club has gone through peaks and troughs across its lifespan, it has always survived,Anderson said.
“It makes me very proud to have started a club at the forefront of the sport,” she said.
“The sport has grown enormously in the past 20 years across the country. When we started up there was very little sport clubs available for people in wheelchairs.
“It’s fantastic to see the number of sport opportunities evolve, and we have lots of interest.
“More recently, we have had young men and women who have been injured in the army come along.
“Some people come along for the fun, but others are highly competitive and have gone on to compete at international level.”
The club has grown significantly in the past two decades, expanding into the senior game and even producing players of an international standard.
The first team, which has recently seen Hugh return to its fold, currently play in the National League Third Division South East — but have been as high as the second tier nationally, the First Division.
To celebrate the club’s birthday, a Have-a-Go session was held during the Bury St Edmunds Festival of Sport on October 26 at their base at Culford Sports Centre.
“You must have an impairment to play in the league but not to play the game, and we have plenty of members who take part but don’t need a wheelchair,” Anderson said.
“It makes it so attractive to families as everyone can play.
“It can level the playing field with siblings but also give the child in a wheelchair a chance to shine — we always emphasise that it’s ‘their’ sport which everyone else is joining in on.
“All I can hope is that the Bury Bombers can go for another 20 years.”