When the unexpected phone call arrived, golfer Peter Jackson was jet-washing the patio on a quiet Wednesday afternoon.
“You’ve won the trip of a lifetime to the Caribbean island of Grenada” said the voice on the line. A stunned Peter walked into the house to tell his wife, Sandie. “You’d better be taking me too” she said.
Jackson, aged 61, a semi-retired management consultant from Haslemere in Surrey, will indeed be taking his wife on the 8,500 mile round trip, set to take place in March 2015 as the climax to this year’s ‘Golf Bag Amnesty’ charity appeal, which saw over 3,000 golf bags and over 15,000 golf clubs donated by golfers at 24 clubs across England.
In summer 2014, Jackson responded to the charity appeal by donating some old golf bags and two sets of spare clubs at Milford Golf Club, near Guildford, where he has been a member since 2005. “They’d been kicking around the garage for ages” he said. “I play once or twice a week at Milford nowadays, but with a newer set of clubs. I was glad to have the opportunity to donate my old equipment to a good cause.
“I never expected it to lead to this” he said. “I was completely stunned when I got the call, and I still can’t quite believe it now. I have visited the Caribbean several times for work, over the years, but never Grenada and I am looking forward to discovering more about the island when I travel there next year.”
The Bag Amnesty was organised by the UK’s largest golf club owner / operator, Crown Golf, along with charity The Golf Trust, which promotes inclusivity in the sport. All who donated were entered into a prize draw to win the Grenada trip – provided by the Jason Roberts Foundation, which was set up by the former Premier League and Grenada international footballer to encourage youngsters in the UK and Grenada to take part in organised sport. Donated Bag Amnesty equipment has already been sent to Grenada in a partnership between the two charities.
“The Golf Trust told us that it needed equipment to perform its outreach work, so we got our heads together at Crown Golf, and devised the Bag Amnesty because we knew that every golfer has old golf bags and clubs lying around in their garage, loft or shed” said Rebecca Prout, General Manager at Milford GC, which is part of the UK’s largest group of golf clubs.
“And sure enough, like most other Crown Golf clubs we had a constant stream of people donating equipment throughout the summer. For many, it was an opportunity to come back to a golf club after some time away, and we hope that this will rekindle their love for the sport”.
The surprise phone call was made by Crown Golf marketing executive Craig Murray, 23, who explains how the donated golf equipment will be used. “Everything is passed to The Golf Trust, and from there the charity is sending it all over the world to the projects it manages in the Caribbean, Africa, India and Europe, as well as inner-city and disabled golf projects in the UK”.
“The donated golf bags and clubs are already enabling members of Special Olympics GB to visit local golf courses more frequently” said The Golf Trust founder, Cae Menai-Davis. “Bag Amnesty equipment is also now in use by hundreds of schoolchildren in the UK, and the donated equipment we send to places like Grenada, Uganda, Romania and India will have a significant impact on the sport in those countries” he said.
“The Bag Amnesty produced an astonishingly generous response from golfers at Crown Golf clubs, and we now have more than enough equipment to run our projects for years to come. It has been phenomenal, and I cannot express enough gratitude to all Crown Golf clubs, their members and their many visitors. Bag Amnesty will make a tangible difference in the world of golf”.
Yorkshire-born Jackson was given the option to take any of his golfing friends on the Grenada trip, during which he will see some of the donated Bag Amnesty golf equipment being used by many of the island’s schoolchildren.
However, his wife left him in no doubt about his priorities. “She gave me no choice” he laughed, “and we can’t wait to step on that plane.”