Worcestershire teenager Ellie Perks has become the latest recipient of England Golf’s Hero’s Handshake Award.
14-year-old Ellie, from Hagley Golf Club near Stourbridge, received the award for the tireless voluntary work she has done supporting several charities, including working as an ambassador for the Golf for Disabled Children charity at her home club, and helping the Dwarf Sports Association UK and Little People UK.
Incredibly, despite all that charitable work, she has also found time to get her handicap down from 54 to 19 during the last year and is about to play in next month’s English Disability Open at Stoke by Nayland.
“She’s an inspiration to us all,” said Gareth Snelgrove, the Head PGA Professional at Hagley who runs the Golf for Disabled Children sessions. “I don’t know what we’d do without her.
“From the outset, she’s been incredibly enthusiastic, both about improving her own game and encouraging other children with disabilities to take up the game.
“She’s one of the best ambassadors we could have had and her ability to strike a golf ball really has to be seen to be believed. She’s very special.”
Ellie took up golf at the age of seven when her father, Martin, took her to Hagley and she has been playing ever since. Her long-term goal is to become a professional and to show people that having a disability shouldn’t stop you from doing what you want.
“We’re all very proud of her,” said Martin. “Ellie loves helping other people and is also working very hard to improve her own game. What she has done with her own golf in the last year is incredible and I’m sure she will continue to improve.”
“She’s very determined,” he added. “When she sets her mind on something, she normally gets it done. She’s an inspiration to a lot of people.”
“Obviously, winning this Hero’s Handshake Award is a big achievement for me,” said Ellie, after receiving the award from England Golf Young Ambassador, Emily Furniss, at a ceremony at her home club.
“First of all, I’d like to thank Keith (James) and Gareth who run the Golf for the Disabled charity at Hagley for the help and support they have given me over the years. It’s been fun working as an ambassador for them and helping to get other people into the game.
“Volunteering is one of the things I love doing, it’s great being able to help other people, so it means a lot to be recognised in this way.
Golf is also very important for me,” added. “It makes me feel independent and it’s a game for all,” she said. “Anyone can play, it doesn’t matter whether you’re tall or short or in a wheelchair.”
The Hero’s Handshake Awards are run by The Young Ambassadors, a group who represent England Golf and the Golf Foundation, and who aim to recognise and celebrate what young people are achieving in golf outside of just the competitions.
They will be handing out a Hero’s Handshake award each month. Follow then on Instagram @getgolfing and tell them about other potential heroes.
Read more about Ellie’s inspirational story here.