Golf’s good causes: Sarah Bennett

Jenny Yu
By Jenny Yu November 3, 2018 13:46

This year the Toby Sunderland Award was given to Sarah, who has raised money for good causes for years. And now she’s doing it again for a golf administrator who has contracted an incredibly rare disease.

A golf pro from Essex, who is as renowned for the hours she devotes to helping the less fortunate as she is for her excellence as a coach, is this year’s winner of the PGA’s Toby Sunderland Award.

Sarah Bennett, the head professional at Three Rivers Golf & Country Club, won the accolade, given annually to celebrate the many wide-ranging charitable achievements by PGA pros, for work that has included the Golf Fore Recovery initiative for wounded and sick services personnel and Canine Partners.

Her latest involvement, however, has been her most challenging.

It is the result of her friend and Under 18 boys and girls England Golf East regional manager, Wendy Lodder, contracting an extremely rare form of cancer.

The 51-year-old was diagnosed with thymic carcinoma in 2016 and has subsequently undergone two major thorasic surgeries as well as chemotherapy and immunotherapy in a bid to combat the disease.

The two women are raising £20,000 to fund research into the disease.

Sarah Bennett (left) and Wendy Lodder

“The cancer Wendy has is extremely rare,” explained Bennett, a PGA Fellow Professional. “There are only 10 cases in the UK annually so the plan is to start a charity for people who have this rare cancer. There are support groups for other dreadful forms of cancer but Wendy has had nobody to speak to except me. For me, that’s massively important.

“We also want to set up in the UK the first pod, if you want to call it that, for thymic carcinoma.

“And I’m pleased to say that’s well on its way. Unfortunately there are only two specialists in the UK who have any idea about this chest cancer but King’s College, London, will hopefully be joining forces with Guy’s Cancer Centre, London, to increase their expertise.

“I’m humbled and surprised to receive the award,” Bennett added. “But I’m delighted for the charity – hopefully it will help raise awareness of disease, which is what Wendy wants.”

“In 2009 Sarah was working with Colchester Garrison with injured service personnel, teaching them golf and using it as a rehabilitation tool,” said Tristan Crew, the PGA’s executive director – member services. “Meanwhile, in a parallel world, I was setting up the Battleback golf programme – but Sarah did everything herself without any support really from the military, apart from goodwill.

“She did one-to-one and group coaching, raised funds for an artificial green to be installed. She ran a golf challenge between all the army recovery centres and a fundraising day for Canine Partners. Sarah’s achievement is all about true charity.”


Jenny Yu
By Jenny Yu November 3, 2018 13:46
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