'It saves their soul' - Archery club's wellbeing fears in lockdown closure

Jon Hancock, founder of Holt Woodland Archery and Air Gun Club. Picture: Archant

Jon Hancock, founder of Holt Woodland Archery and Air Gun Club. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

The owner of an archery and airgun club says people's mental health will be hit by its closure during lockdown. 

Jon Hancock runs Holt Woodland Archery and Airguns, a club which provides people with the chance to experience the sports.

The club also offers a woodland sanctuary for ex-military personnel. 

Mr Hancock said archery saved him from depression and believes it benefits people’s mental wellbeing and acts as a sanctuary.

Holt Woodland Archery and Air Gun Club, which has been ordered to shut down. Picture: Archant

Holt Woodland Archery and Air Gun Club, which has been ordered to shut down. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

“It is just frustrating because people come here and it saves their soul, it saved my soul,” he said.


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“It just seems wrong that Premier League football can go ahead but people can’t pursue health and happiness for their mental wellbeing and that is frustrating.

"It is all outside and we can enforce social distancing.

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“There are a lot of vulnerable people who are lonely and isolated and have nowhere to go. They could go to the woods and have that place.

"Being outside and in woodland is a natural source of wellbeing.

“I’ve had people call me and they are upset and I have been trying to calm them down. It just seems that mental health is being cast aside."

A memorial plaque at Holt Woodland Archery and Air Gun Club. Picture: Archant

A memorial plaque at Holt Woodland Archery and Air Gun Club. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

The club has been running for the last 10 years on an 11-acre wooded area off the A148, on private land in High Kelling.

Both clubs are run by volunteers as it also helps their mental and physical wellbeing. 

The club was allowed to remain open during the second lockdown and even during Tier 4 restrictions, but Mr Hancock said archery and airgun clubs were told to close as a result of the new lockdown.

“I feel for the council as they are getting told things at the same time as the public," he said.

“I'm not angry or bitter, I'm just upset that there are people who don't have this release anymore.

“I just took a deep breath and said we have to do it, but it is very, very sad.

“It is hurting a lot of people, I imagine it's the same all over for tennis and golf clubs."

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