Bedfordshire’s Neil Frankel and Riverside Lawn Tennis Club win Disability Award
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The No Barriers tennis programme at Riverside Tennis Club in Bedfordshire has been crowned a national winner at the prestigious LTA Tennis Awards.
Neil Frankel and the No Barrier programme scooped the LTA’s Disability Award after being recognised for his sustained innovation during lockdown and responding positively to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Frankel works as disability tennis manager for No Barriers at Riverside Tennis Club, has supported his members throughout lockdown and been a trailblazer for championing inclusion and excellent teamwork.
He was announced as the winner by Justin Tomlinson MP, Minister for Disabled People, at a live-streamed awards ceremony presented by Great Britain Davis Cup captain Leon Smith.
The LTA Tennis Awards are now in their sixth year and celebrate the achievements and contributions of outstanding tennis volunteers, coaches, officials, venues and players across the country.
And Frankel and the programme was hand-picked as one of 16 national winners recognised at the awards ceremony last Thursday, which honoured individuals involved in tennis at grassroots, county, regional and national level.
In 2020, the programme at Riverside continued to offer activities to suit all abilities and backgrounds and recorded record participation figures within specific groups such as the visually impaired, learning disability and Down syndrome.
Frankel’s helped catapult participation to new heights, embraced technological innovation in lockdown and fostered a wide-ranging support network to help the club’s disabled players.
No Barriers at Riverside forms part of the LTA's national Open Court disability tennis programme, which is one of the largest of its kind across any sport and has helped a record number of disabled people get on court and enjoy the benefits of tennis.
Nominations were drawn from over 25,000 volunteers, nearly 5,000 coaches and 1,000 officials, 22,000 schools, nearly 3,000 clubs and over 9,000 LTA approved tournaments, with Frankel recognised for his inspirational work in the Bedfordshire region.
The quality and quantity of the awards nominations this year demonstrate outstanding work that has been done in tennis through the pandemic, and David Rawlinson, LTA President, said: “The LTA Tennis Awards are a real celebration of the people that make our sport thrive.
“They celebrate the achievements made by outstanding volunteers, coaches, officials, venues and players, who are all vital in helping us to grow the game.
“The past year has been challenging for everyone, but to see the tremendous positive contributions the nominees have made to the sport and to their communities has been tremendously uplifting.”
National Runners Up
Brentwood Tennis Club
From the introduction of Walking Tennis sessions to allow people with limited physical movement to take part in tennis to their local outreach programmes with schools and SERVES, Brentwood Tennis Club is at the forefront of delivering an inclusive approach through collaborations with key partners.
Grantham Tennis Club
Throughout a challenging year, Grantham Tennis Club has continued to prioritise its disability tennis programme, running multiple wheelchair, learning disability and walking tennis sessions each week when permitted. It also established coaching for people with mental health issues and ran holiday disability camps.
LTA Disability Award 2021 – National Shortlist
- Ben Hardwick from the University of Bristol
- Brentwood Tennis Club in Sheffield
- Chrysalis Tennis based in the Grampian area in Scotland
- Grantham Tennis Club in Lincolnshire
- MDL Coaching based in Middlesex
- Neil Frankel from Riverside Lawn Tennis Club in Bedfordshire