Each week we bring you a good news story from across the South West as part of our wedNEWSday articles.

A group of keen and proactive netballers have led to the start-up of two sessions in Somerset that have gone on to be some of the most popular in the South West.

Wellington, near Taunton, is the home of Mel Ayres, an enthusiastic netballer who moved to Somerset three years ago and began to play with a group of friends. After running their own sessions became unfeasible, and wanting to emerge from the Covid lockdowns in a positive way, Mel reached out to Somerset’s Netball Development Officer, Lucy Higgins, to see whether something could be set up with England Netball.

A brilliant venue at Court Fields School was booked, experienced coach Helen Brunt was soon recruited, and they were all set for two new sessions! Back to Netball (B2N) – a coached session that helps give confidence to those returning to court, and Netball Now ­– an umpired session of purely game play. Each session was open to all abilities and levels, and both quickly proved very popular! The group soon decided to embrace and take advantage of the new booking system via Engage, hiccups and all, and within 48 hours, both the Back to Netball and Netball Now sessions were fully booked.

“The take-up has been remarkable,” says Helen. “As a coach I have found the sessions to date very rewarding, as a majority of B2N have not played since school or college. They are respectful and the improvement of skills and confidence is coming on in leaps and bounds.”

Since the beginning the sessions have been well-attended and much enjoyed every Wednesday, with some of the feedback coming from the participants including “so much fun!”, “Wednesday is now my favourite day of the week!”, and “I absolutely love the sessions!”. In fact, they were so popular that within a month of the sessions starting, an additional coach was recruited, and the group are continuing into the autumn and winter months, with friendlies already organised and talk even beginning of setting up as a netball club.

“They are both superbly run by the qualified coach Helen with the perfect balance of fun and training. Everyone that attends is friendly and everyone seems to interact with each other with ease. The atmosphere is fantastic – it feels like we have really embedded a netball community within Wellington,” says Mel.

Helen agrees, “I love to see the camaraderie and the bonds forming on and off court. There’s lots of laughter and chatting,” she says. “I try to mix ladies into teams so they make new friendships and talk to others in the group. Unfortunately, one of my fortes is getting their names mixed up, which they find hilarious!”

For anyone wanting to try the sessions, Mel has this straightforward advice: “Give it a go! It is addictive and a fab way to get your exercise whilst socialising at the same time… It’s a win-win!”

To sign up to Back to Netball (Wednesdays 6pm-7pm) or Netball Now (Wednesdays 7.15pm-8.15pm) at Court Fields School, visit – https://www.englandnetball.co.uk/play-netball/find-a-session-or-club/. Please email Lucy Higgins at lucy.higgins@englandnetball.co.uk with any questions.

If you have a good news story that you would like to share please send your story and a picture to the South West Regional Coordinator (southwest@englandnetball.co.uk)