BELFRY YOUNGSTER AWARDED THE ‘HEROS HANDSHAKE’ BY ENGLAND GOLF
Anthony Bridgeman, 12, has received a ‘Heros Handshake’ from Young Ambassador Ali Jodiyawalla in recognition of the way he has used the sport to help deal with autism and dyspraxia.
Anthony started playing golf at the age of seven as his father believed it would help him to overcome his communication difficulties and shyness.
A regular volunteer at The Belfry, Anthony attends every weekend, assisting PGA coach Phil Akers, and the sessions have boosted his confidence and social skills, which is a primary focus of The Belfry Junior Golf Programme.
England Golf selected Anthony because of his success in raising awareness of disability, his determination to achieve despite the challenges he faces, supporting other young people, his commitment to practice, overall positivity about the sport and being a role model.
Anthony said: “It's really amazing that I'm the first person to receive this trophy and I just hope I can inspire people to take up and enjoy golf. My ambition is to be the first Masters champion with hidden disabilities.”
Ambassador Ali Jodiyawalla gave Anthony the handshake and said: “We want to award the Hero’s Handshake to people who sum up what golf’s all about – that it’s a great, fun sport for everyone. Anthony is a brilliant person to receive the first handshake.”
Akers, Senior PGA Coach at the award-winning Belfry resort which has hosted a record of four Ryder Cups, was full of praise for his protégé.
He said: “Anthony is one of the most inspiring young men I’ve ever come across. I can honestly say that he is the hardest working pupil I’ve ever had, his enthusiasm for the game is infectious. He has a great family around him who go above and beyond to give him the love and support he needs and every day he tries his hardest in everything he does. I’m very proud to call him my friend and in awe of his determination and efforts he puts in every day. This really is a special moment for anyone connected to The Belfry Junior Academy. Our aim is to develop the person as well as the golfer and I’m so delighted that Anthony has been recognised in this way.”
Lee Dolby from England Golf said: “The Young Ambassadors want to award hero’s handshakes to people who sum up what golf’s all about – that it’s a great, fun sport for everyone. Anthony is a brilliant person to receive the first handshake.”
Anthony’s own heroes are Akers, a finalist for the England Golf Coach of the Year Award, and his father, Andrew, who runs his Twitter account, @anthonygolf2006, which tracks his life and golfing journey. He has over 1400 followers and regularly chats with other young golfers around the world, including children and adults with autism and dyspraxia, as well as enjoying positive feedback from golfing icons such as like Ernie Els, Gary Player, Nick Faldo and Danny Wilet.