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Supporting bereaved children through the power of tennis

This summer Exacta's Founder & CEO Nick Rogers is using the power of tennis to help children all over the country deal with the loss of a parent…

Exacta

2022-06-01 12:00:00

- 4 min read

As a professional tennis coach and editor of Talking Tennis, I’ve spoken to hundreds of people who have had their lives transformed by tennis. For some it’s the escape from the stresses of their professional lives, for others, it’s their recovery from a serious illness. I’ve seen long last friendships created and support networks evolve; I’ve even met visually-impaired players who have told me when they hit a ball ‘they forget they can’t see’. Old and young, they all have their unique tales of the game’s extraordinary power. It can be incredibly moving, and this is why I loved hearing Nick’s story… 



In 1983 Nick lost his mother. He was only thirteen. Back then, professional support systems for bereaved children just weren’t as accessible as they are now, which meant at a young age he had to deal with his grief as best he could, alone. And it was discovering tennis that gave him that crucial support.
Every week he would take himself down to Cleeve Hill Tennis Club and find a partner to whack some balls with. He recalls: “For me, it was never about being technically brilliant or competing in tournaments,  it was just about running around and hitting this bright yellow thing as hard as I could for as long as I could.” In the courts, he could escape. In forehands and backhands, he could find the freedom to express himself, distract himself and ultimately begin to process his loss. Tennis has been a touchstone for Nick his whole life. Now at 52, a father of four and the founder and CEO of Exacta Technologies. Nick wanted to do something that might help children today who like him, have to deal with the loss of a parent.

“For me, it was never about being technically brilliant or competing in tournaments, it was just about running around and hitting this bright yellow thing as hard as I could for as long as I could.”

That’s when he turned to Grief Encounter, a remarkable charity that supports bereaved children - and what could be a more appropriate way of fundraising than playing tennis? In this case, playing a lot of tennis: 11 hours and 38 minutes. 

Grief Encounter works closely with individuals, families, schools and professionals to offer children a way through the anxiety, fear and isolation caused by their bereavement. They work across the country, with 
a Therapy Centre based here in Knowle as well as London, providing critical support through one-to-one counselling, group workshops, music, art and drama therapy as well as providing a free national helpline. In Bristol alone, over the last year, they have provided 797 one-to-one counselling sessions, supported 95 families, and launched two new online grief groups. This year they will be doing even more: aiming to support 120 families, which will reach 360 individuals directly and over 1,000 people indirectly.

“Playing tennis was, and still is, my life support, so this idea of a marathon session on the court just felt right. I only hope I can get through it in one piece!”

Nick tells me, “What the team at Grief Encounter do for families is so special and so important  – they help children understand that they’re not alone and give them a direction through the reoccurring blizzard 
of emotions that they face when they lose someone so special. I’ve seen the amazing work they do and knowing just how important this could be for a child, I really wanted to do something to help. 
“Playing tennis was, and still is, my life support, so this idea of a marathon session on the court just felt right. I only hope I can get through it in one piece!”
Next month, on Friday 1st July at the Long Ashton David Lloyd Centre, Nick will be taking to the court, along with the help of local ex-professional player Paul Maggs, for an 11 hour 38 minute game of tennis. That’s a significant time: it represents 41,000 seconds: one second for every child in the UK who has lost a parent in the last 12 months.


“We are so thrilled to welcome Nick to our team of incredible fundraisers at Grief Encounter South West,” says the charity’s Fundraising Manager Chelsea Harding. “We are so grateful he is undertaking this innovative and mammoth challenge to help us raise vital funds. He knows first-hand just how important the work we do is, and his challenge will make a real difference to bereaved children, both locally, and across the UK. 
“Huge thanks to Nick, and we wish him the best of luck!” 
For his time on the court, Nick will be stretched to the maximum in a gruelling test of mental and physical endurance. There is no doubt this lengthy challenge will be brutal, as a player myself I wouldn’t want to try it and the people that know him best say he’s crazy to do it - but using tennis to push himself to the limit is what made the perfect support for him when as a child, he needed it most. So of course it only seems fitting now, to give something back, Nick can use this sport again to help support hundreds more bereaved children who need it most.

How your donations can help...

  • £15 Pays for a selection of books for bereaved children to help them understand the feelings they are experiencing following the death of a loved one.£50 Provides a 1:1 counselling session for a bereaved child, offering professional support and coping mechanisms for dealing with a death of a parent or sibling.
  • Pays for one bereaved family to attend a ‘Fun Day’, is an opportunity to meet and form relationships with other bereaved families.
  • £60 Allows one bereaved child to attend 
  • a therapeutic workshop, giving bespoke creative therapy to help them express their feelings.
  • £100 Provides a Grief Relief Kit for one bereaved family, with professional resources including our award-winning Workbook and Forever Journal, helping children process the death of a loved one.
  • £150 Pays for one bereaved family to attend a Group Counselling session, bringing them together to talk about their feelings as a family unit.
  • £500 Pays for 10 sessions of 1:1 counselling, providing consistent care along the child’s journey.
  • £1,000 Pays for a dedicated Trauma Specialist to work with a school following the death of a student, providing staff and students with training and group counselling.

Visit Grief Encounter

Donate Now

 

Written by By Lizzie Flint, Founder and Editor - Talking Tennis

 

Exacta

2022-06-01 12:00:00

- 4 min read
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