HE has a dream of creating a centre for disabled sports in Dorset with a vision everyone can be active for life.

Having endured 43 operations including having both knee caps removed, a fractured hip and damage to his shoulders and hands, Nick Coombs, who founded the Dorset Destroyers wheelchair rugby club, knows first-hand the benefits of sport.

“We are all disabled but our disabilities are just a very small part of our lives,” he said.

“When you play sports, you are all equal. It is a level playing field and having a disability doesn’t come into it.”

Today Nick’s dream is one step closer to reality after launching a new club Disability Sports Dorset at Rossmore Leisure Centre in Poole with his wife Sue.

The team are now celebrating after receiving £9,500 funding from Sport England to buy 15 multi-use wheelchairs and a storage container and £2,500 funding from The Dan Maskell Tennis Trust to buy two more.

It means people with a range of disabilities from illnesses such as spina bifida to people who have had life-changing accidents including amputees can enjoy sports such as wheelchair tennis, wheelchair self-defence and a disability shooting club with plans to bring in more sports including wheelchair dancing, wheelchair rugby 7s, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair netball.

Dad-of-two Nick, from Poole, said: “We soon found so many disabled people in Dorset wanted to have access to other sports so we set up Disability Sports Dorset on Friday nights to open up more opportunities for sport. So far it’s been extremely successful but that has meant we have run out of chairs.

“Wheelchair sports are not cheap because of the equipment needed so it’s absolutely vital we receive funding like this so disabled people can just turn up and pay for their own time like everyone else would without worrying about equipment.”

The Dorset Destroyers wheelchair rugby club was launched three years ago and today the club is one of the largest in the UK with 21 specialist chairs and 21 players.

Sue said: “We welcome all different ages, sexes, shapes, sizes to give it a go. They are inclusive sports and there’s an emphasis on the social side too.

“It can be daunting because for some people it may be that not only have they not played sport, they haven’t even been out. They have literally been confined to their house.

"It’s a reality that taking the first step is hard and a big deal for people but we welcome everyone and people don’t look back. Now we have opened it up to more sports, not just rugby, we really hope even more people will come along and give things a go whether they have a bad back, arthritis or they are a wheelchair user, everyone really is welcome.

“We have a bit of an unspoken rule that when you come into the sports hall, you leave your c**p at the door. You get in your chair, you’re all on a level playing field and you enjoy it. If you have any worries, aches or pains, you just forget about it for the time you are there and you can just be yourself.”

John Colgan, who is on the committee and plays for Dorset Destroyers, added: “If it wasn’t for the club there would be people sat at home twiddling their thumbs. It has opened up a whole new world to us.

“You might hobble about very slowly but on court, you are fast you’re agile, you turn on a six-pence, knock each other out of wheelchairs. It is phenomenal to be able to move freely. You get fitter, you get air in your lungs and the social side is just brilliant. It gives you a feeling of self-worth and you come out of your shell.

“I thought I could never do it but that was two years ago and I am still playing.

“We have a laugh, it’s like a big family.”

Nick’s goal is to open a disabled sports centre featuring everything from large sports halls, an accessible gym where all equipment is a suitable height and a swimming pool with a ramp to access the pool rather than a hoist and says he will never give up on his dream.

“The word disabled is a very negative word but when you take part in sports and you’re part of a team or club, you sort of lose your pain. It just goes. We can just be us.

“All I want to do is to be able to encourage as many people as possible to give sports a go and experience that feeling themselves. There really are no words.”

Everyone is invited to disability sports and leisure open day at Rossmore Leisure Centre in Poole from 10am until 2pm on Saturday, July 8.

There will be various stands and the opportunity to try a range of sports.

For more information about Disability Sports Dorset who meet Friday evenings go to disabilitysportsdorset.weebly.com For information about Dorset Destroyers, who meet at Rossmore Leisure Centre Sunday mornings, go to thedorsetdestroyers.weebly.com