Can you help Sheffield snooker club cue up cash for specialist facility?

The eyes of the snooker community were definitely on Sheffield over the past fortnight as the top 32 players battled it out in the World Championship.

Friday, 4th May 2018, 1:59 pm
Updated Wednesday, 9th May 2018, 8:16 am
David Collins, Katie Harrison, Josh Garner and Steve Harrison at the Stephen Harrison Snooker Academy in Walkley. Picture: Andrew Roe.
David Collins, Katie Harrison, Josh Garner and Steve Harrison at the Stephen Harrison Snooker Academy in Walkley. Picture: Andrew Roe.

But, while the magic of the Crucible theatre was evident throughout the tournament, tucked away in a snooker hall in Walkley, other forms of baize-related magic were happening.

Devoted son Steve Harrison set up a snooker academy specifically for children and adults with learning difficulties in 2007 inspired by his dad Ray, who was the paraplegic snooker champion gold medallist in 1985.

Josh Garner takes a shot with Steve Harrison watching over at the Stephen Harrison Snooker Academy in Walkley. Picture: Andrew Roe.

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As part of the work, Steve hosts the Junior Disability Snooker Championships to coincide with the sport's biggest competition of the year.

And the contest is just one part of former professional player Steve's work.

His dream is to open a specialist centre for the academy, which currently operates on four tables from Walkley Snooker Centre, and he has launched a campaign to raise £40,000 to help make it happen.

Steve, 45, said: "My ultimate aim is to get snooker back in the Paralympics. It fell out in 1988 and I think it should be available to all.

"We are currently serving Sheffield and South Yorkshire and we renting four tables in Walkey but I am getting requests from more and more people and families right across the country."

The academy currently provides snooker opportunities for children aged eight to 18 and adults between 18 and 25.

Children are often referred from social services or from schools across the county.

It runs snooker sessions after-school, during school holidays and on Saturdays.

Steve added: "It's not all about the snooker either. There is the social side of it all. It's about doing an activity and getting out and meeting other people.

"We encourage members to travel to the sessions independently and with other members."

Ray Harrison, of Earl Marshall Road, also played football for Sheffield United as well as cricket and only took up snooker after being diagnosed with polio at the age of 17.

He campaigned for disability sport across the city and Steve said he wanted to continue the work he did.

"Snooker has always been part of my life and my passion is all about getting people into the sport," he said.

"He was such a big inspiration to me as a child and now I can see the fantastic work he did and the legacy he has left and I want to carry that on."

Steve said the group had raised just over £2,000 so far of its £40,000 target and was also looking for a suitable building.

"We don't just want to survive, we want to thrive. We are a very small organisation and rely on volunteers with very few members of staff," he said.

"We want to get our own venue. We want something that is at least 4,000 sq ft of space on a ground floor.

"If anyone knows of anywhere suitable, then it'd be great to hear from them."

Steve asked anyone who could help sponsor the academy or donate towards the fundraising campaign to contact him on 07864 046826.