Two former police officers are taking a proactive approach towards encouraging positive mental health with the introduction of a new lawn bowls group.
Retired Queensland Police Sergeant Darryl Coventry is working with Albury's former top cop Beth Docksey on Bowls Gr8 for Brains, a program aimed at retired and former police, RSL members, family and friends to get out, have a coffee, a chat and a game of bowls.
A bowls, coffee, yoga and relaxation event was scheduled for Friday at Lavington Bowling Club, but has been moved following the death of Albury police veteran Marg Saunders, who will have a full police funeral at Hovell Tree Park the same day.
The new date of Thursday, October 10 at 10am will allow those interested to come and try bowls, enjoy some yoga on the green or simply have a 'cuppa' and catch up with like-minded people.
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Coventry, a star bowler in the region, discovered the sport four years ago after three failed suicide attempts stemming from his battles with post traumatic stress.
"At the conclusion of that last failed attempt, it was 'you can either do this or try something different' and that was when I walked into North Albury (Bowling Club)," Coventry said.
"They handed me a set of bowls and leaving the adversity aside because of my own medical condition, what's morphed out of that is two trips to state finals, a newfound relationship with my children, a better relationship with my former partner and meeting and having support through these people.
"This helped me and it has helped at least 15 or 20 other people who have responded in a very positive way.
"Hopefully it can change people's lives, it can give what I've got and other people have got out of it, and it can also promote lawn bowling at the same time because that needs work around here as well."
Since retiring in 2017, Docksey has become the secretary of the Murray River branch of the Retired and Former Police Association of NSW and was recently elected to the state committee.
The greatest challenge of her decorated police career came in December 2012 when her husband of 26 years, Sergeant Glenn Stirton, died at the station.
She hopes Bowls Gr8 for Brains can start with retired and former police and move throughout other groups.
"I still have a lot of connections with the emergency services around here, so hopefully we can get the firies, the ambos, RFS, SES, doctors, nurses into this social activity to help support them in having those additional spokes to their wheels other than themselves and their work," Docksey said.
"We want them to renew their lives by meeting people and doing things, rather than getting stuck in that isolated lifestyle.
"It's a social support network for any people that have worked in those areas, but they don't even have to be in those areas. It's an outlet for anyone who suffers anxiety and has any mental health issues, they need that support and external network to become involved in."
Lavington Bowling Club will host a Bowls Gr8 for Brains Open Day on Friday November, 1 in conjunction with Veterans' Health Week.
Further details about the upcoming events can be found at the Bowls Gr8 for Brains Facebook page.
- If you or anyone you know needs help, call Lifeline on 131 114