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MOD apprentices design accessible dartboard

24 October 2017
Ingenious Ministry of Defence apprentices from Devonport Naval Base have unveiled a dartboard for use by recovering service personnel and veterans.

Two leading darts players, Maria O’Brien, (world number 12 woman) and former soldier Snowy Dyson, who inspired the project while receiving support from Help for Heroes, launched the dartboard in Devonport at a ceremony.

Snowy, a double leg amputee due to diabetes, said: “I helped the apprentices draw up the criteria and they have done a fantastic job.

“My aim is to spread the word about playing darts among veterans like me of any ability and with any disability, whether it is post-traumatic stress or those who have lost limbs.

Darts is my life and I haven’t let the loss of my legs stop me playing. I know the healing power of darts.

Snowy Dyson

“Darts is like no other sport in being very social and this has been proved to help the recovery of people like me, especially ex Service personnel who miss the camaraderie of military life.

“Darts brings people together and this is what I want to happen.

“The idea is that I take this new board to other Help for Heroes centres and we encourage anyone of any ability and whether they can stand or not to play.

The former county level player said:  “Darts is my life and I haven’t let the loss of my legs stop me playing.  I know the healing power of darts. 

“The British Disabled Darts Association is especially supportive and kept me going when I was at my lowest morale.  I’m hoping that his new board can also be taken to their events.  

“In many venues the boards are not only too high, but so are the stages,  this new board will be ideal.’’

 Chris Nowell-Smith and Lawrence Parker, engineering management apprentices, were asked by the Help for Heroes charity, which funded the cost of materials, to design and build a dartboard which could be used by standing and wheelchair users in the Recovery Centre within Devonport.

The pair based their design on an existing commercially produced version which has a height-adjustable dartboard and score panel.

The key to its practicability is its portability; it is light and can be broken down into sections for loading into cars.

Chris said: “I’m proud to have helped people like Snowy. He is inspiring and it is very rewarding to be creative and use our skills in something that helps a section of the community.

“It is part of our training to contribute to the community and engage and meet people in the wide MOD world.

“This was a challenging project which requires an easily movable board which also has to be stable because of the nature of the game. 

“To add to the difficulty we had to make our own components. It will have to be improved as the users require.’’

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