Swindon Bats Sports & Social Club for the Visually Impaired
Swindon Bats Sports & Social Club for the Visually Impaired

Becky and Uan Salt Path Challenge Completed!


We did it!


Myself and Uan managed to complete our very own Salt Path Challenge.


We originally set ourselves a goal of 40 miles along the coastal path from Weston Super-Mare to Minehead during the last week of August.


Here’s a brief run down of our 4 days walking the Salt Path in Somerset which we took on in the hope of raising some funds for The Bats, to say thank you for all the fantastic work they do for the blind and visually impaired people of Swindon and surrounding areas.



Day 1: Weston Super-Mare to Burnham on Sea.

Distance covered: 10.5 Miles

Time: 3 hours 30 minutes.


We walked about 7 miles of this stretch along golden, sandy beaches, and with the sun in the sky you could of been forgiven for thinking we were 100s of miles away abroad, somewhere more tropical, it really was beautiful.


I noticed so many lovely sounds around me on the first day. It really woke up my senses. The sound of the sea, waves coming inland, the seabirds and children flying kites, playing in the sand and the feeling of the sun on our faces made it such an enjoyable days walking.


Day 2: Burnham on Sea to Bridgwater.

Distance Walked: 11 miles.

Time: 3 hours 30 minutes.


We cut a big chunk of time and distance off this walk by doing a lot of road walking. It was a shame not to walk along the coast more but it would of added an extra 15 miles to our walk and with our packs weighing in at over 16 pounds each we thought the short cut was worth it, especially with 2 more days to go until we reached our final destination.


But it did mean we could arrive in Bridgwater nice and early and rest our weary feet. We stayed over in a local pub which was also very welcome!


Day 3: Bridgwater to Kilve.

Distance Walked: 15.9 miles.

Time: 5 hours 34 minutes.


This was an incredible day. The walk was beautifully scenic. It was a real mixture of cross country, costal and country lanes. We had one hairy moment when we happened upon a very big field of bullocks! There was an electric fence all the way around and as we hopped over the gate and I put my cane to the ground the other side we found out why it was needed. They decided to immediately run at us and let’s just say Uan’s never seen my bottom move so quickly back over a fence!

Once we had thwarted the bullocks we wandered through some lovely Somerset villages towards Lilstock and Kilves fantastic Jurassic Beaches.


The Jurassic cliff tops certainly didn’t disappoint. It was a brilliant place to hear, smell and experience the coast with it a welcome sea breeze.


We really felt like true hobbits on day 3 walking to such a wonderful spot.


Day 4: Kilve to Minehead.

Distance: 16 Miles.

Time: 5 hours 55 minutes.


What an incredible adventure we have had!


This was our final day walking from Kilve, a small coastal village with a long pebbly beach on the Jurassic coastline in Somerset to the famous tourist town and home of Butlins, Minehead.

This day saw us walking over cliffs and under waterfalls, over sandy beaches and rocky beaches, cross country through woods and across fields.


The elevation on this walk saw us climbing higher than Pen Y Fan!! Over 800 meters!


Our total distance covered from Weston Super-Mare to Minehead was 54 miles exactly with a total walking time of 18 hours.


Minehead bought much relief to our feet and the delights of an ice cream at the seaside.


Thank you:


We are incredibly pleased and relieved that we were able to manage our walk. It is is the furthest we have ever travelled on foot.


We navigated over some extremely difficult terrain which was made even more of a challenge due to my sight loss and the difficulty this brings with my mobility and accessibility. But with Uan’s unwavering support and constant encouragement from our friends at the Bats we managed to keep going and finish our challenge.


We met some lovely, kind people along the way and would like to say a huge thank you to all who have supported and followed us on our journey.


We want to thank every single person who’s made a donation and say there’s still time to make a donation, no matter how big or small it will all be very gratefully received by The Bats and used to continue their fantastic work. 


Thank you for making a real difference to those the Blind and Visually Impaired community.


All the best,


Becky and Uan Harrison


Please visit our CrowdFunder page for more details and the opportunity to donate!



Click here to see more pictures in our Gallery

British Blind Sport Tenpin

Winter Pairs Fixures Announced


The Divisions and fixtures for the BBS Tenpin Winter Pairs competition have been announced!


For full details click here.


Superheroes Tri 2023


This event took place on 12 August 2023 at Dorney Lake, near Windsor.  Unfortunately, we were unable to get a team together to take part in the triathlon, but we were invited by the Zurich Community Trust to demonstrate our bowling skills. 


We left Swindon at 7.30 am sharing a coach with Zurich volunteers and triathlon enthusiasts from the Open Door Centre.  The coach arrived at Dorney Lake at around 9 am when those from the Open Door Centre who were taking part in the triathlon went to register for the event. 


In the meantime, a portable skittles alley was provided for us and was ready for action.  Anyone attending this event was encouraged to have a go at bowling whilst wearing simulation glasses.  The weather was changeable but everyone enjoyed the experience. 


See more pictures in our gallery.


Absent Friends Competition 2023


This competition is played in memory of all those who were regular bowlers but have now sadly passed away.  The first games were played on 04 January, and the competition will continue until 30 November 2023.


For full details, and the latest league table click here



Becky and Uan Salt Path Challenge


We are a husband and wife from Swindon, Wiltshire.

We are taking on a Walking Challenge to help raise money for the Swindon Bats.

Becky was unexpectedly registered Blind in August 2021, due to a rare degenerative eye condition that she did not know she had. 

This has meant a lot of adjusting and a new way of life for us. It has changed our way of thinking about what's really important, and has given us time to take stock and start to appreciate life to its fullest. 

One of the things we now appreciate more are the people and activities that bring us joy and purpose. 

Becky is always looking for experiences to make her world feel less isolating and small since she lost her sight. 

That's where the Swindon Bats have been an absolute lifeline! 

In the short time since joining the Bats in November 2022 Becky has been able to join British Blind Sports Ten Pin Bowling League, had a visit to Harry Potter World, was able to try her hand at Acoustic Riffle Shooting and Kurling, has visited a local Primary school to talk about Para Sports and regularly takes part in a weekly Pub Quiz with her fellow team mates.

The Bats have become like family and It's given Becky confidence, courage and a community. 

Therefore we've decided that we would like to try and give back to this wonderful Group. Bats is a charity that can only run and function if it can secure regular donations and funding from the public. This money goes towards purchasing each Bat team member a Bowling Ball and T- Shirt, towards subsidising trips, days out and events and allows the Club to run its various weekly activities.

We recently listened to the wonderful AudioBook The Salt Path by Raynor Winn (2019) together. It's a wonderful story that really struck a cord with us both.


The book is an Autobiographical story of a married couple called Ray and Moth, who after an unexpected life changing diagnosis for Moth, start to lose everything they've lived and worked for their entire lives including becoming devastatingly, homeless. With no choices left open to them they begin a walking journey which over its huge length of over 600 miles along the Costal Path transforms into a narrative of inner courage and a beautiful heartfelt story about their relationship and nature’s ability to truly heal.

In the book the couple walk the South West Costal Path from Somerset through to Dorset. 

We don't think we have the ability to walk the full 630 miles ourselves! So have instead decided to Walk 40 Miles of the Costal Path from Weston Super mare to Minehead, Somerset in order to hopefully raise some funds along the way for Swindon Bats! We'll be walking at the End of August for 3 days. 

We would be so greatful for any support you can give no matter how big or small, we know how difficult it can be at the moment for people to find and spare any extra money. 

Best Wishes,

Uan and Becky  


Please visit our CrowdFunder page for more details and the opportunity to donate!



Para Sports Event

Lawn Primary School 15th May 2023

Four Bats members accompanied by three Zurich employees, were invited to put on a Para Sports Event at Lawn Primary School, on Monday 15th of May. 


The Bats are always keen to support and encourage inclusivity and raise awareness of sight loss in our local community. 


So when we were contacted by Year 1 Teacher, Mrs Greenaway, we jumped at the chance to put on a fun day of accessible sports for the School's year 6 pupils.


Russ, Becky, Jane and Bron were met at the school by members of the fantastic Zurich Community Trust Team; Mark, Suzie and Daniel who are always willing to go that extra mile to help the Bats and support so many wonderful community projects.


Once in the school building we were lead by Mrs Greeanway to the main hall where the smell quickly took us all right back to the nostalgia of school dinners, custard and jam rolly polys! 


Here we got to work setting up our Para Sports stations using our own equipment and some improvisations with the school's benches and crash mats.


We created three seperate stations. One for the children to take part in Skittles, another set up for indoor Kurling and a final station for running races along a guide rope. All with a catch: the children would be doing each sport either blindfolded or wearing specialist glasses that mimic various eye conditions, letting each child experience what it might feel like to take part in different sports with sight loss. 


Once all set up Mr Staffell the PE Lead bought the children into the hall. The children had no idea that we were coming to visit and there was definitely some excited whispers and chatter in the air! 


Russ introduced himself and asked the children what they understood about the term "Para Sports". All the children were brilliant, and very clued up on what disability and Para Sports are, with many having seen the Para-Olympics on the television. 


Then Russ asked the children, 


"What disability do you all think I have?" 


We heard answers coming from all directions; Dyslexia, OCD, ADHD.  


When finally Russ said I'll give you a clue. Becky and Russ bought their canes from behind their backs and clicked them down onto the floor..... 


It was a brilliant moment you could hear a pin drop. Then all of a sudden mouths open wide, eyes even wider and gasps all around. The children were so shocked to discover that we were in fact Blind and Visually Impaired! 


There were lots of great questions and some really positive conversations were had about disability not always being visible. 


We met 60 children in total who all got to take it in turns on the various sports stations. The Guide Rope Running Races and Kurling activities proved particularly popular. Each child triumphantly collecting a sticker at the end of the afternoon.


Many of the children remarked how strange and scary it felt not to be able to see whilst doing the sports and said it made things much more difficult. 


All the year 6 pupils from Lawn Primary were very mature and respectful young people who were a pleasure to meet. We really hope that they all had a good afternoon getting to grips with Para Sports for the Visually Impaired. 


We do have a sneaking suspicion they might of enjoyed it just a little bit as at the end a hand flew up excitedly and one boy bravely shouted out.....


"Mr Staffell can we do this again next week for PE, and the week after that?"


A big thank you to Lawn Primary School for inviting us and to The Zurich Community Trust team for helping us put on a fun and educational afternoon where we were able to work together to successfully spread awareness of visual impairment and promote accessible sport. 


See more pictures in our gallery.

Shooting for the Stars

Kay Kay writes:  Seven VI shooters with sighted guides had a shot at firing air rifles at ETR Active target range, Cricklade, on Saturday  April 22nd.


Paul Sharpe, range owner, set up a fantastic free day of training and shooting.  When we saw the "BATS" sign on the highway directing us to the premises we knew we were in for a VI(P) kind of day!


First came a welcoming coffee, then the sighted guides were taken to the range to learn about range safety, how to load and unload the weapons, and how to zero them (this means test firing then adjusting the sight so that a pellet fired at the red dot hits the bullseye).


After all ten of the sighted people had successfully hit their targets they were then pronounced "fit to coach" and paired up with a VI shooter.


Those waiting their turn could be heard happily munching biscuits ( or was that just the three dogs, Milly, Willow, and Wren? Ha ha ) and chatting away over their coffee.


Paul is still working on  his bespoke acoustic system so on this occasion the coaches adopted a "Bernie the bolt" style verbal instruction to guide their shooter's aim onto the bullseye. "Left a bit, right a bit, fire!" was the refrain of the day with everyone not only managing to hit their targets with ease but get great groupings and a few bullseyes too! 


VI shooters and sighted coaches rotated onto the firing lanes, having lots of goes each, interspersed with a lovely pizza lunch all provided by Paul - his family and friends were perfect hosts and really looked after us. 


Stars of the day were sighted coach Michelle who got the first bullseye, and hotshots Sue and Shaun who once again took overall top marksman places for the girls and boys respectively, each getting bullseyes and fantastic groupings.


A cracking day was had by all and everyone agreed they'd do it again "like a shot"... 


See more pictures in our gallery.

Harry Potter Studio Tour Trip

Becky Harrison writes:  On April 14th a group made up of 6 members of the Swindon Bats Sports & Social Club for Visually Impaired People were joined by 6 members of their family and friends, to emark on a magical trip to The Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studios in London.


The London Harry Potter Studio Tour invites you into the actual studios where they made all the Harry Potter films. There you'll find that they’ve refashioned all our favourite props, costumes and sets into a fantastic exhibition. It’s a Harry Potter experience like no other!


Our Tour was booked in advance through our local Coach Operator Barnes Coaches, who were brilliant at arranging and catering to all our group's needs.  They provided a comfortable and safe journey to our magical destination. Our driver Dave was a great source of entertainment and was very attentive and inclusive to all, kindly helping us locate our stops, audio describing our seating areas and guiding us all on and off the coach himself. Thanks for all your help Dave (Or should we say Hagrid Dave!).


It was almost as if we'd taken a trip on the Night bus itself! Within a blink of an eye we had arrived at those enchanted Hogwarts doors.


The Harry Potter Studios offer a Staff guided walking tour around the studios especially for the Visually Impaired. On arrival we were kindly given free digital headset guides for those of us who wished to swat up on additional audio information. We were then introduced to our two guides for the day, Nathan and Torlin. We have to say that when Nathan (who lead our tour) told us that it was his first time taking a group around, we could'nt actually believe him, because he was so fantastic! Both Nathan and Torlin were remarkable at their jobs in guiding us through what was an extremely busy area.


They were able to immerse us in the Harry Potter universe and give us a chance to experience a behind-the-scenes walking tour which featured authentic sets, costumes and props used in all of the films.


We got the chance to explore for ourselves some of the original sets, such as getting to step onto the real Hogwarts Express, taking a look into Number 4 Privit Drive and pulling up our own Mandrakes in Professor Sprouts Greenhouse! Our Guides also imparted some closely guarded film making secrets, including facts about the special effects and animatronics that made the films so hugely popular all over the world.


There were lots of interactive moments to the Studio Tour including the Bats being invited to experience levitating our own broomsticks, touching Hagrid's original Monster book of Monsters and creating lightning and wind effects in the forbidden forest.


Despite it being incredibly busy and with a huge area to cover Nathan and Torlin couldn't do enough for our group and supported us for 6 whole hours to navigate the experience making sure no Gringot's Gold Bar was left un turned! We were treated like Hogwarts royalty and fast tracked through countless ques to ensure our experience was a magical one!


All the Bats and our family and friends agreed that this trip was an incredible experience and a truly enchanting adventure.


In the words of the great Albus Dumbledore:


"It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities"


Thanks to all the help and care of all our supporters on this trip all The Bats members who attended were able to have a fantastic and memorable experience that we will truly treasure! 


See more pictures in our gallery.

'Bowling is Believing' on 23.03.2023


Mark Flay writes:

On 23rd March a group of 8 employees from Swindon took up the gauntlet to go bowling with members of the Swindon Bats who are a sports and social club.

The Bats aim is to provide regular activities for visually impaired people aged 18 plus. One of their main activities is tenpin bowling, which they love!

The Zurich Team took on the challenge and wore specially designed glasses to replicate various sight impairments for some of the frames. It really does bring home just how amazing the Bats are in the way they get on with their day to day lives.

Thanks so much to everyone that took part last night as the Bats really do appreciate it and it all helps them to win trophies at the national events their members attend. ?On the night it was a draw with the teams tied on 4 points each!


If you'd like to get involved at future events, then comment here or email me: mark.flay1@uk.zurich.com


See more pictures in our gallery.

Inter-Company 'Bowling is Believing' on 09.02.2023!


Mark Flay writes:  On February 9th a group of 15 employees from the Swindon office of Zurich Insurance UK took up the gauntlet to go bowling with 13 members of the Swindon Bats Sports & Social Club for Visually Impaired People. 


We were joined by 8 employees from Openwork, to ensure a bumper night of bowling over 6 lanes who were competing for the Inter-Company trophy!


The Bats aim is to provide regular activities for visually impaired people aged 18 plus.  One of their main activities is tenpin bowling, which they love!


The Zurich and Openwork Teams took on the challenge and wore specially designed glasses to replicate various sight impairments for some of the frames.  It really does bring home just how amazing the Bats are in the way they get on with their day to day lives.


Thanks so much to everyone that took part last night as the Bats really do appreciate it and it all helps them to win trophies at various national championship events throughout the year.


One of the volunteers commented:


"It was fantastic and thanks so much for arranging these evenings! Well done BATS!  We will be back for another challenge!!"


On the night it was a win for the Swindon Bats 'All Stars' team who beat one of the teams from Zurich into 2nd place!


Zurich Community Trust


#community  #volunteering  #bowlingisbelieving  #LoveZCT


All of the bats thank Mark for organising another great event.


See more pictures in our gallery.

An Evening with Swindon Coeliacs


On 26 January 2023, we enjoyed an evening’s bowling with a group from the Swindon Coeliac Group. 


We all arrived at Tenpin Swindon at 6.45 pm with much excitement and enthusiasm  for the evening. 


Two games of tenpin bowling were played and there was lots of banter and cheers of joy when strikes and spares were scored.  The Coeliacs were encouraged to wear simulation glasses during frames 4, 5, 6 and 7 to give them some idea of what it is like to live with various eye conditions. 


After the first game the score was 3 to Swindon Bats and 1 to Swindon Coeliacs.  At the end of game 2, the score was 3 to Swindon Bats and 1 to Swindon Coeliacs so the final score was 6 to Swindon Bats and 2 to Swindon Coeliacs. 


The teams were:


Swindon Coeliacs – Marian, Sue, Ken, Lou, Gareth, Pete, Cliff, and Maria.


Swindon Bats – Georgia, Glynn, Stuart, Maisy, Becky, Russ, Shaun, and Andy.


The highest scorers were:


Shaun (Swindon Bats) 195


Gareth (Swindon Coeliacs) 115


Thank you to Swindon Coeliacs for presenting the highest scorers with a £20 Marks & Spencer gift card each.  Thank you also for a very enjoyable evening – here’s to next time, 29 June 2023.


See more pictures in our gallery.

A Fair Challenge


A team from Zurich Community Trust, led by Stacey, was tasked with organising a winter bowling challenge which took place on 23 January 2023.  The challenge involved organising us to enjoy a meal at The Ridge, Swindon, followed by a tenpin bowling match. 


We all met at The Ridge at 5.30 pm and enjoyed burgers and fries among the company of Stacey’s Zurich team.  Food and conversation were all good.


After the meal, at approximately, 7 pm, the bowling began at Tenpin Swindon.  Five lanes had been booked with 2 bowlers for Zurich and 2 for Swindon Bats on each lane. 


Strikes and spares were scored especially when sighted players wore simulation glasses which gave them some idea of what different eye conditions were like. 


At the end of the first game, the score was 3 to Zurich and 2 to Bats. 


After glasses were refilled, the second game began.  Lots more strikes and spares were scored.  The score for the second game was 3 to Bats and 2 to Zurich making the final score 5 to Zurich and 5 to Swindon Bats. 


The teams were:


Zurich – Jane, Tracey, Peter, Brynley, Sue, Stacey, Maria, Juliet, Caroline, and Ines.


Swindon Bats – Maisy, Becky, Andy, Glynn, Georgia, Peter, Stuart, Cliff, Shaun, and Russ.


Thank you to Stacey and her team for organising this event – everyone had a great time.


See more pictures in our gallery.

Bats Sharp Shooters!



On 2 December 2022, a group of us visited the Barbury Shooting Range for a taster session of acoustic rifle shooting.  This involves special equipment which enables visually impaired people to take part in rifle shooting by wearing headphones to hear a sound which indicates where the target is.  As the tone increases in pitch, the closer the rifle is aimed at the bullseye. 


We arrived at 11 am and enjoyed tea and coffee while the equipment was set up for us. 


Charlie, who coordinated with Bats member Kay to organise this event, gave us a brief talk about the equipment and gun safety.  There were two rifles set up so a pair of us could have a go at the same time.  Only one of our group managed to hit a bullseye but some of us were very close. 


It is hoped that another taster session will be organised so that those who were unable to come along this time, can have a go on an alternative date.  It is also hoped that an acoustic rifle shooting club can be set up in Swindon and that some of our members will play in a national league. 


Thank you to Charlie, Liz, Jason and Paul, who travelled from Lincoln and Birmingham to visit us with their equipment, for organising this event.


Thank you also to Kay, who coordinated with Charlie to make this event possible.


See more pictures in our gallery.

Open Door Centre

On 3 November a team from the Open Door Centre joined us at Tenpin Swindon to enjoy some tenpin bowling.  Once balls were chosen, and drinks and food were purchased, the bowling began at 7 pm.


During the first game, there was lots of excitement as strikes and spares were scored for both teams.  At the end of this game, the score was a draw at 2 games each.


There then came a short break when glasses were refilled, before we started again for the second game.  Again, lots of strikes and spares were scored on both sides.  The Open Door Centre team were happy to try bowling using our simulation glasses for part of the games.


At the end of the second game the score was 6 games to Swindon Bats and 2 to the Open Door Centre.  I am sure everyone had a good time.


The teams were:


Open Door Centre: Andrew, David, Nathan, Thomas, Mark, Natalie, Matthew, and Angie.


Swindon Bats:        Peter, Sue, Shaun, Pat, Glynn, Maisy, Russ, and Andy.


Perhaps we will do it all again next year – here’s hoping!



Another match with our friends at the Zurich Community Trust was played on 29 September. 


All bowlers and helpers met at the usual time of 6.45 pm and play began at 7. 


There were lots of strikes and spares scored for both teams with much banter between players.  At the end of game 1 the score was 2.5 to ZCT and 1.5 to Swindon Bats.


After a short break, play began again.  Again, many strikes and spares were scored and at the end of the second game the score was 6.5 to ZCT and 1.5 to Swindon Bats. 


In both games, during frames 4, 5, 6 and 7, ZCT's players were encouraged to wear glasses which simulate various eye conditions.  A couple of them even wore a blindfold to see what it is like for someone who sees nothing at all. 


Congratulations to Mark Flay and his team!  The teams were:


Swindon Bats – Pat, Georgia, Stuart, Tom, Peter, Russ, Andy, and Sue.


ZCT – Caroline, Nicky, Suzanne, Elizabeth, John, Rebecca, James, and Mark.


See more pictures in our gallery.

Superheroes Series 2022


Zurich Community Trust invited members of Swindon Bats to demonstrate their bowling skills at the Super Heroes Series event in Dorney Lake, near Windsor, on 20 August. 


ZCT organised a bus to take Andy, Russ, Pete and Sue to this event along with members of the Open Door Centre, Swindon, and volunteers from ZCT. 


Members of the Open Door Centre were taking part in sporting activities and, as one of them had to register for his race by 9.15 am, we had an early start with the bus leaving Swindon by 7.40 am. 


We arrived just in time for registration and found that a portable skittles alley had been hired and constructed for the event. 


The idea was for us to show anyone interested how visually impaired people bowl.  Sighted visitors had to wear the simulation glasses or a blindfold so that they had some idea of how it is for us. 


Many people visited us including children and wheelchair users who all enjoyed giving it a go. 


The highlight of the day was meeting Clare Balding who was there to film the event, highlights of which will be shown on Channel 4 at 8.30 am on 4 September and will be available on All 4 afterwards. Clare was filmed wearing simulation glasses and having a go at knocking skittles down. 


We arrived back in Swindon at around 6.45 pm feeling tired but happy to have had a successful and enjoyable day.


Thank you to Mark Flay for inviting us to volunteer at this event.  For more information about Super Heroes Series visit Superheroes Series.


See more pictures in our gallery.




Updated: 24th September 2023

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