Posts by: Matt Huart

WDBS Supports Learning Disability Week

This week will see a series of events take place in support of people with learning disabilities, with a focus on the development of new friendships and relationships.

Learning Disability Week runs from 20-26 June 2016 and is co-ordinated by MENCAP, the leading voice of learning disability.


WDBS director Bob Hill

The recent WDBS Woking Open was the first world disability snooker competition open to people with learning disabilities. Many of the players who took part were part of a coaching group organised by WDBS director Bob Hill, a leading snooker coach in the Bristol area who recognises benefits of snooker for people with learning disabilities, including the creation of new social opportunities.

“I really believe snooker is an ideal sport for players with learning disabilities,” said Hill. “It involves an intuitive set of ideas, such as potting balls and taking it in turns; it’s interactive, giving players the chance to socialise while taking part; and it requires focus while not being over-complicated.

And the rewards do not only extend to the players themselves, but also to coaches such as himself and fellow WDBS director Tim Squires, who also coaches learning disability groups.


WPBSA World Snooker coach Danielle Findlay in Woking

“Coaching players with learning disabilities is the best part of the coaching I do because the players involved gain the most rewards from it,” continued Hill. “It’s not only about improving skill, but about players gaining confidence and social skills. One player in my group barely spoke during his first three sessions, but he has gradually made friends. He recently competed in the Woking Open tournament and thoroughly enjoyed it.

“I would encourage other coaches to develop snooker groups for players with learning disabilities – there are lots of skills and enjoyment to be gained from it. You will have a really positive impact on those who attend.

“I would also urge community organisations supporting people with learning disabilities to look at what snooker provision exists near them and give it a go. Or else contact the WDBS to find out how to get started.”

For more information and to support Learning Disability week please visit MENCAP’s website and tweet using the hashtag #LDWeek16

Listen: Adams Hails WDBS Growth

Jonathan Adams has spoken of the ‘fantastic’ opportunities provided by the WDBS since its formation last summer.

The WDBS director and British Paralympian has this week been featured on BBC Suffolk and Phoenix FM to discuss the progress made, following the successful staging of events in Gloucester, Manchester and Woking to date.

“To see the WDBS growing at the rate that it is, not just in the work that we are doing, but also the attention that it is bringing, just shows that if you have got an ambition and a vision to be professional and just do something right and with the best intentions possible, then the world is your oyster.”

In particular, Adams was thrilled by the success of the most recent WDBS event in Woking, which was the first to cater for players with both sensory and intellectual impairments:

“No event of my previous knowledge has been staged before for players with an intellectual disability in disability snooker,” said Adams. “We took it on ourselves to showcase how we think snooker can be a powerful sport, in that it’s not just available to a very select group, it is available to everybody.

“The event in Woking was a fantastic opportunity to give these players the opportunity to participate on a grand stage and that’s something that we feel we have achieved really well.”

To listen to Jonathan speak on Phoenix FM with guests including five-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan please click here and scroll to approximately 20:00.

You can also listen to him during the first hour of Saturday’s afternoon’s broadcast on BBC Suffolk here, beginning at 8:39.

Landmark WDBS Event Staged in Woking

World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) held its third event at the Woking Snooker Centre in Surrey last weekend.

The three-day competition was a landmark event for WDBS, as it was the first open to disability classification groups incorporating visual impairments, hearing impairments and learning disabilities.


Players received coaching throughout the weekend

Following an Open Day at which players with all disabilities were able to practice and receive free coaching from accredited coaches, the main competition then saw tournaments staged for each of the three disability groups over Saturday and Sunday. A separate Challenge Cup event was also contested by players who had not progressed to their respective finals.

The Group 7 competition for players with visual impairments was won by Paul Smith, who defeated David Baker 4-1. In the final frame of the match, Smith came from behind to force a re-spotted black, which he subsequently potted to secure victory.

Smith, who lost one eye in a shooting accident when he was 10, has previously competed on the main tour during the early 1990’s, when he played against the likes of current professionals Mike Dunn and four-time world champion John Higgins.

“It was a great event,” said Smith. “The people were lovely and it was a real eye-opener to see how players were able to cope and how well they can play.”

“I had a lovely weekend there with my fiancée Melanie who always brings me luck and it was nice to win with the support of people like former world number three Neal Foulds, who was keeping an eye on my results and giving me some friendly banter!”


David Ingham won Group 8

Group 8, for players with hearing impairments was won 3-2 by David Ingham against Hull’s Lee Douglas in the competition final.

Ingham trailed 2-1 in their best of five frames final, but responded to force a deciding frame, which he would eventually win by potting the final black up into the green pocket to end a dramatic match.

A day earlier, Group 6 concluded with a 2-0 victory for David Barrett against Richard Yendle. The match was deceptively close with both frames coming down to the colours, but it was Barrett who would win both to claim victory.

Originally from Dublin, Ireland, Barrett is now based in Sussex and practises with the likes of Jimmy Robertson and Mark Davis at O’Sullivans Snooker & Pool Club in Bexhill.

Finally, the Challenge Cup was won by Gary Gallacher, who defeated Kal Mattu in a one-frame final. Gallacher had competed in the group 7 competition earlier in the weekend, in which he had taken eventual champion Paul Smith to a deciding frame in their round robin match, before ultimately just missing on a place in the final.

The weekend was supported by WPBSA World Snooker coaches Tim Squires, Bob Hill and Danielle Findlay, who provided free coaching to all players. Further assistance was welcomed by several players from classification groups 1-5 who were not eligible to compete in the main competition, but were keen to support the event as coaches and officials.


Mayor of Woking Anne Murray with WDBS Chairman Nigel Mawer

The event was also visited by Jonathan Lord MP for Woking and the 43rd Mayor of Woking Anne Murray, who were both given a tour of the venue and introduced to players and officials.

WDBS director Bob Hill said: “This tournament further strengthened the ambition of the WDBS to develop new opportunities for people with disabilities to play snooker and highlighted the inclusive nature of the sport.

“The event demonstrated the wide range of benefits for those taking part, including developing new skills, passion for a sport, the chance to integrate and socialise with others and the opportunity to be understood and celebrated for one’s abilities.

Hill, who provides coaching in Bristol, Bath and North Somerset, was accompanied by players from one of his snooker groups who participated in the Group 6 event and he was delighted with the experience that they had.

Bob Hill and the Group 6 players

Bob Hill and the Group 6 players

“Everyone in the group thoroughly enjoyed competing in the first WDBS tournament of this kind,” added Hill. “It was a really well organised event and a great atmosphere to play in. The sporting spirit shown by all the players was incredible and the excellent support from the volunteers and referees gave everyone an equal chance to compete.”

The next WDBS event will be the second Open Disability Snooker Championship, which will be held at the South West Snooker Academy on 14-16 October 2016. The event is set to be open to group 1-5 players, however as in Woking players of other categories are encouraged to attend to provide support and play throughout the open day.

To view images from each of the three days in Woking at our facebook page please visit the following links:

Woking Hosts WDBS Open Day

The 2016 Woking Open began yesterday with the latest WDBS Open Day for people with all disabilities to try snooker.

Held at the Woking Snooker Centre ahead of a two-day tournament this weekend, the event saw a mix of players across different age groups, with experienced players and students from local snooker taking to the baize.


Woking MP Jonathan Lord meets members of the Hull Deaf Centre taking part in the Open Day

The day was supported by WPBSA World Snooker coaches Tim Squires, Bob Hill and Dannie Findlay, who were available to provide free coaching throughout the day. Also in attendance was MP for Woking Jonathan Lord, who met with staff and officials during the afternoon.

The Woking Open is the first WDBS tournament open to players falling under classification groups 6-8, i.e. visual impairments (Group 7), hearing impairments (Group 8) and people with learning disabilities (Group 6).

To view a full album of photographs from the Open Day please visit our Facebook page, which together with our official Twitter feed will provide updated news and results from the main competition throughout the weekend.


Disability Day at Sheffield Winter Garden

The WPBSA will stage the annual World Disability Day in Sheffield on Thursday 21st April 2016 during the Betfred World Snooker Championship.

To be held at the Cue Zone in the Winter Garden close to the Crucible Theatre, the initiative looks to encourage people with disabilities to participate in snooker and support the ongoing work of World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS).

Formed in 2015, the WDBS has already hosted disability events in Gloucester and Manchester, with further events to be held in Woking and Gloucester in 2016.

Players who have competed in WDBS events so far will be present during the morning of Disability Day to play doubles matches with members of the public. Later in the day, children with disabilities from Sheffield Wednesday Football Club have been invited to take part in a snooker challenge.

“We are delighted to bring world disability day to the World Snooker Championship,” said WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson. “We are proud to be a sport for all. We are delighted to see the involvement of so many groups and we are pleased to see our players and coaches engaging with our new activities and the work of the WDBS.”

The day will also be supported by Leonard Cheshire Disability, a charity supporting disabled people in the UK and around the world to fulfil their potential and live the lives they choose.

During the day groups from Mickley Hall and Gloucestershire House will be visiting the Cue Zone to try snooker. There will also be collections for Leonard Cheshire in Tudor Square throughout the day.

Barney Cullum, external communications officer for Leonard Cheshire said: “Leonard Cheshire Disability is very happy to be supporting this important event at the prestigious World Snooker Championship.

“Research conducted by our charity earlier this year found that 57% of disabled people are currently doing no sport or physical activity, with a lack of suitable opportunities cited as the largest barrier to participation.

“In light of these findings, and to mark the Paralympic year, Leonard Cheshire Disability is working hard to create a great many more opportunities for participation.”

For more information about the WDBS please visit

You can also read more about Leonard Cheshire Disability at their official website

Woking Open 2016: Entry Pack Now Available

The entry pack for the WDBS Woking Open 2016 to be staged at the Woking Snooker Centre, Surrey is now available to download.

The event will take place between 20-22 May and will be the first event open to groups 6-8 in accordance with the WDBS classification system. This includes those who are partially sighted, have a hearing impairment or an intellectual impairment, although people with any disability are encouraged to attend the open day on Friday 20th May.

Click HERE to download the entry pack

Please email with all enquiries as to entry.

To read the full report from the recent Manchester Classic event please click here.

Manchester Hosts Snooker Classic

World Disability Billiards and Snooker held its first event of 2016 at Q’s Sports and Entertainment Bar in Manchester last weekend.

Following the first event held at the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester last November, the tournament was the first to be staged in the north of England by the WDBS. The field included players who had competed in the previous event and newcomers who had learned of the success enjoyed in Gloucester.

Three main competitions were held across the weekend, incorporating five different disability classification groups. There was also a plate event held during the final day for players who had not qualified for the final stages.

Group 3 finalists William Thomson (left) and Daniel Blunn (right)

Group 3 finalists William Thomson (left) and Daniel Blunn (right)

The Group 3 event was won by 30-year-old William Thomson, who overcame Gloucester champion Daniel Blunn 3-1 in the group final to claim the title. From Scotland, Thomson has HMSN type 2 and was participating in a WDBS event for the first time.

“I am absolutely delighted,” said Thomson. “I decided to enter the event to try it, to make new friends and to see what the standard was like. I was very impressed with the tables and can’t thank the WDBS and the club enough.

“I came down from Scotland to try and prove a point to my little boy who is nearly three years old. I wanted to make him proud and see that no matter what is in front of you, you can still do things. It is inspirational to see the other players here and I have such admiration for them.”

Coached by 2006 world champion Graeme Dott, the event was a double success for Thomson as he took the overall high break prize with a run of 35 made during one of his group matches.

Newport’s Craig Welsh claimed victory in the Group 1/2 event. Welsh, who has paraplegia, defeated Glyn Lloyd, Albert Henshaw and Gavin Gormley during the course of the weekend to top a four player group stage ahead of Liverpool-born Henshaw.


Group 1/2 winner Craig Welsh (left) is presented with his medal by WDBS Chairman Nigel Mawer (right)

In the Group 4/5 event it was Andy Johnson from Lostock who took the honours, seeing off Steve Packer 3-0 in the overall final.

Packer had made it through to the final in dramatic circumstances on Saturday evening, defeating Zena Latcham in the last match of the day following a deciding frame to qualify.

In the final however it was Johnson, who had won both of his pool matches without the loss of a frame, who recorded his third whitewash of the weekend to take the title.

The plate event was won by Morecambe’s John Teasdale, who lost both his right leg and right arm following a road traffic accident in 1981. He defeated Ricky Chilton from St Ives in a closely contested one-frame final.

WDBS Chairman Nigel Mawer said: “This is the second event that we have held and the support that we have had from the players and the people who come to support the players has been absolutely fantastic.

“We have completed an event now in Gloucester, we have done an event now in Manchester and our next event is in Woking, which will cater for people with different categories of disability to our first two events.

“We are now building this sport so that people with all types of disabilities are engaged, become involved and play.”


WPBSA World Snooker coaches will be available again in Woking

On the opening day of the event players were able to enjoy extensive free practice at the venue, including the use of several recently refurbished match tables that were subsequently used during the tournament itself. Free coaching was also provided throughout the opening day by WPBSA World Snooker coaches Reg Davies and Rick Williams.

The next WDBS event will be the WDBS Woking Open, to be held from 20-22 May 2016 at the Woking Snooker Centre. This will be the first WDBS event open to players categorised under groups 6-8, which includes those who are partially sighted, have a hearing impairment or an intellectual impairment, although players with any disability are welcome to attend the open day prior to the main competition. Full entry details for this event will be announced shortly.

The next event open to players from groups 1-5 will be the 2016 Open Disability Snooker Championship, scheduled to be held at the South West Snooker Academy from 14-16 October 2016.

Prior to both events, this year’s World Professional Snooker Championship will incorporate a Disability day in Sheffield on 21st April 2016 with activities in progress throughout the day in the Cue Zone.

Further photographs from Manchester can be viewed at our official Facebook page and video footage of the medals presentation can be watched at the WPBSA YouTube channel.


Group 1/2

Glyn Lloyd 2-1 Gavin Gormley

Craig Welsh 2-1 Albert Henshaw

Craig Welsh 3-0 Glyn Lloyd

Albert Henshaw 2-1 Gavin Gormley

Gavin Gormley 1-2 Craig Welsh

Glyn Lloyd 0-3 Albert Henshaw

Craig Welsh wins the group

Group 3 Final

William Thomson 3-1 Daniel Blunn

Group 4/5 Final

Andy Johnson 3-0 Steve Packer

Plate Final

John Teasdale 58-56 Ricky Chilton (single frame)

WDBS Heads North

This weekend will see the WDBS stage its second event, the 2016 Manchester Classic at Q`s Sports and Entertainment bar.

Following on from the inaugural Open Disability Snooker Championship held in Gloucester last November, the Manchester tournament marks the first event to be hosted in the north of England by the WDBS, but it is far from the first time that disability snooker has been played in the area.

The venue last hosted disability snooker in 2011 (Photo by Clive Brown)

The venue last hosted disability snooker in 2011 (Photo by Clive Brown)

In fact the same venue, in its old guise as the Belle Vue Rileys, previously hosted the DSE National Snooker Championships for the Disabled as recently as 2011 and so quickly presented itself as the ideal location for the second WDBS event.

“As a region of the UK where disability cue sports have been so well-established, we felt that this was the perfect location to launch our 2016 season,” said WDBS director and British Paralympian Jonathan Adams.

“We have seen how snooker is opening new possibilities and following our first event in Gloucester and the work by our partners we have seen a significant rise in interest for disability specific events going forwards,” continued Adams.

The three-day event begins with a free open day of coaching and practice, before the tournament itself gets underway on Saturday with play to start at 10:30am.

Spectators are welcome to come and watch, but for those unable to attend there will be updates throughout the day at our Twitter and Facebook pages.

Entries for the event are still being accepted, click here for more information.

Still time to enter Manchester Classic

With the start of the 2016 Manchester Classic just days away, it is still not too late to take part in the event for those who have not yet entered.

Although the official entry deadline for the entry fell last Friday, in order to maximise the field and encourage as much participation at the event as possible, the WDBS will accept any subsequent entries received.

The Manchester Classic 2016 will be the second event staged by the WDBS, following the inaugural Open Disability Snooker Championship held in Gloucester last November, at which Tony Pockett (pictured), made it through to the final despite having himself entered late having heard about the tournament just days before on the local radio.

The tournament in Manchester will run from 19-20 March 2016, with an open day for people of all disabilities to be held on 18 March.

Please click here to download the entry pack.