Bolton-based Darts Corner travelled to the largest RAF base in the UK, Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, to support SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, as they opened new facilities to alleviate loneliness and isolation in the military community and attempt to get darts on the Armed Forces sporting radar.
Darts Corner, at Brize Norton (so named after Darts Corner generously donated all the equipment), hosted a 24hr Dart-a-thon, which was kicked off by the head of the RAF, Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard Knighton, throwing the first dart.
ACM Knighton said:
“It is a great pleasure to be here. Thank you to SSAFA, and everyone who has made this happen. It is the perfect space and opportunity for people to come together and connect.”
Gary and Wayne Taylor, of Darts Corner attended the event along with World Number 10 darts player, Australian, Damon “The Heat” Heta, who threw countless darts to help raise funds for the charity.
“We heard that darts was getting popular within the Armed Forces and Mission Darts, our manufacturing company, has a few veteran employees and players, so supporting SSAFA makes sense. And the great thing about darts is that it doesn’t make a difference who you are; there is no rank on the board. Everyone can come together and have a great time.”
The event was organised by Corporal George Marchant, WO2 Lee “Foxy” Fox (captain of the darts team), and Cpl Zara Warhurst (Military Darts Ambassador).
Cpl Warhurst said:
“We chose to raise money for the SSAFA In-Service Committee because we know that the money directly benefits the wellbeing of personnel based at Brize. We held a darts exhibition in July and raised £8,500 which funded the recently opened music room, so we can see the positive impact almost immediately.”
Service personnel are often sent far away from their friends and family for extended periods. They live in blocks, where they have their own rooms, and sometimes find it difficult to get out and make friends. Initiatives such as the music room, which hosts band nights and music therapy courses, and the new Darts Corner, are social hubs which encourage young people to socialise and feel less isolated.
WO2 Fox said:
“What we also want is for darts to be a recognised sport across all three services in Defence. It’s inclusive, social, you can play it almost anywhere, and it requires concentration and skill. If it was recognised as an official sport there would be more support and funding and a lot more people could play.”
Over the course of the Dart-a-thon the players raised £1,200, which will be used to fund a further darts area for military families to use.