Boost for foundation in memory of teacher

A foundation set up in memory of a former teacher has been given a �4,000 grant to improve the teaching of ball games in Norfolk schools.

The Ruth Nicholls Volleyball Foundation was set up by England volleyball coach Keith Nicholls in 2007 following the death of his daughter from cancer, aged 36. Ruth Nicholls, who was born in Leeds and grew up in Bristol, had been a PE teacher with a particular love of volleyball and was heavily involved in promoting sport with young people on the basis of participation rather than performance.

The grant was awarded to the foundation by the Norfolk Knowledge Innovation Panel to develop a new net system to improve schools' teaching of ball games such as tennis, badminton and volleyball, and take the plans from paper to prototype model for further testing of the concept.

Mr Nicholls, who lives in Norwich's Golden Triangle, is retiring as director of PE & Sports at UEA's Sportspark, where he has been for about 20 years, helping to transform it from an old school style sports hall to the international venue it is today.

He said: 'Current equipment is not fit for purpose as it has not been developed by those with a background in the sport.

'Nets get separated from posts and then either lost, tangled or damaged.

'Existing net systems are impractical and fiddly with free standing posts often supported by weights which can be dangerous.

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'Members of Norfolk Knowledge are now providing me with a valuable sounding board to double-check my thoughts in areas of business I'm less experienced in. And the funding to create the first prototype is a real bonus.'

Norfolk Knowledge's Innovation Panel provides management support and funding with access to a 70-plus strong group of retired or semi-retired business professionals.

Richard Garnett, chairman of the Norfolk Knowledge Innovation Panel, said: 'Any organisation wanting help to be more innovative in products, services, processes or strategies could find this scheme useful. 'We are still looking for more candidates, so if you are undertaking innovation and would like assistance, I would urge you to get in touch to see how our experienced members can support you.'

New applications are welcomed before the next deadline of Wednesday, October 12.

Visit the website ( – look under innovation) or call 01603 591816 to find out more.

Have you got a schools story for the Evening News? Call reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email