The founder of a Haverhill-based charity that helps disabled people to play snooker has invented a new rest specifically for wheelchair users.
Tim Squires, who established TJS Snookerbility in 2011 at the Haverhill Ex Servicemen’s Club (HESMC) in Quaker’s Lane and has gone on to also become a World Snooker coach, came up with the new aid after seeing wheelchair users struggling to judge how far their cue was from the cue ball when using a normal rest.
One year ago, he created a prototype of his invention and it was used for the first time two weeks ago at a (WDBS) World Disability Billiards and Snooker (on whose board Tim sits) regional tournament in Gloucester.
Tim, who lives in Haverhill, explained: “The rest replaces your bridge hand but you’ve got no way of judging how far the cue tip is away from the cue ball.
“An able bodied player sees the shadow on the cue on the table but a wheelchair player can’t see the shadow (because they sit too low down) so they’ve not got that ability to judge and gauge, they can’t do it.
“I thought — how can I get that shadow?”
Tim discovered that putting an LED into the end of the rest, with a power cable running to its opposite end where an on/off button is fitted, enables the player to put a shadow on the cue ball.
He added: “The closer you get to the cue ball, the smaller the shadow is. Then they can work out the distance that the tip needs to be and they can start doing their final preparation to strike the cue ball.
“This is like a guide path to where they need to be for the cue ball. It helps them to adjust to where they need to be.
“This has not been done before but it started here, in Haverhill.”
The invention has yet to be patented by Tim (it costs £4,000 just to get a protection order on it), but he fully expects the rest to be approved by the Referees Association, and therefore able to be used at all disability tournaments, providing he can find funding to secure the patent and have the rest manufactured.
The HESMC has also paid for a TV to be installed in one of its snooker rooms, enabling Tim to show some of the disabled players he coaches exactly what they are doing with their shots.
Tim explained: “This is another learning dimension for people who do struggle with textbook learning, so they can look at the TV and they can learn.”
The addition of the TV will help Tim achieve the further goal of making the HESMC a regional hub for disability snooker, especially as the club is, he explained, ‘one of the top snooker facilities for miles around, with top-grade cloth.’
Tim added: “We need regional centres where they can come down more regularly. We can’t keep having just two tournaments a year.
“I would not say there are going to be more tournaments here, the most important thing for these people is playing, they don’t want to be hanging around. They’ve got to be playing.”