Cancer charity bowled over by donation

Bridport-based cancer rehabilitation scheme Stepping Out has been able to carry on their weekly indoor bowling session thanks to a donation from Magna Housing.

Weekly indoor bowling is part of the Stepping Out exercise and wellbeing programme set up in 2015 by The Living Tree Cancer Support Group and Bridport Leisure Centre, specifically for people living with and beyond cancer.

The group is run by Jo Perfect and Richard Walsh, who are both specially trained level 4 cancer rehabilitation instructors.

Richard said: “This is a great group which provides an opportunity for people to take part in appropriate exercise tailored to individual needs as well as to make new friends. Stepping Out comprises a weekly gentle group exercise class followed by an educational talk on subjects relevant to people with cancer.

“A weekly intermediate group class is provided for those who have completed the initial 12-week programme and provides progression for participants. A separate weekly ‘taster session’ provides the opportunity for participants to try new exercise activities all of which are available locally.”

Jo said: “Earlier this year Stepping Out was selected to take part in a 12-week indoor bowling pilot scheme run by Just Bowls. This proved so popular that the group wanted to continue with this activity every week after the taster session.

“Initially the equipment was borrowed from Just Bowls, but Magna’s donation meant we could buy our own scoring mats and bowls and keep the sessions running every week.

“Participants in Stepping Out include local people from Bridport and its surrounding villages and also some who travel from further afield, for example from Weymouth, Dorchester, Lyme Regis and Axminster.”

Members of the group benefit not only from regular physical activity which can help manage and lessen many of the problems people living with cancer tend to experience but they also from time to relax, share their experience and make new friends.

Karen Trevett said:  “I come when I can if I’m not at work, it’s a marvellous group which has helped me from the start.

“It gets you out mixing with people in a similar situation and it’s great fun.  Exercise is really important when you’ve had cancer and I miss it when I don’t come.

“It was lovely to get the donation as we thought we’d have to do lots of fundraising before we could get the equipment.  It meant we could get the equipment much sooner.”

Neil Bliss, Magna Housing’s resident and community engagement officer, said: “We support the communities we are based in and we are really keen to see groups like this continue to be successful.

“The Living Tree clearly provides very valuable support and advice to those who are living with cancer, including the Stepping Out exercise programme, and we are thrilled with how well the donation has been used already.”

Although the Stepping Out programme is initially for 12 weeks, many of the group have been coming for longer.  Joan Killick has been going to the group for about two years.

She said: “I love all the activities we do but I really value the friendship and support. It’s a wonderful group which has given me a whole new life.

“People here understand how you feel, it’s like an extended family. I look forward to every day that I do something with them. There’s lots of laughter taking part in the activities and that really is the greatest tonic.”

The free Stepping Out sessions are run twice a week at Bridport Leisure Centre and are available to anyone who has received a cancer diagnosis.  You just need to be referred by your GP, cancer nurse specialist or other health professional.

For more information on Stepping Out, contact Jo Perfect, Stepping Out Programme Director at Bridport Leisure Centre on 01308 427464 or