On the fifth anniversary of the launch of the On Course Foundation, Alison Root meets cancer-survivor Kate Surman to find out about the charity’s inspirational work and to discover the true power of golf.
On a chilly and breezy day at Oxfordshire Golf Club most women golfers would have rather sat in the clubhouse with a hot drink. But I was looking at three very different women, who had joined the first ladies event hosted by the On Course foundation, the charity that helps to transform the lives of wounded, injured and sick Service personnel through golf. Nothing was going to deter these determined military women from heading to the golf range for some expert tuition.
The trio included 30-year-old Kate Surman from Abingdon in Oxfordshire, who is now an ambassador for the Foundation. Surman attends a variety of events and acts as a spokesperson for the charity by sharing her story
and widening awareness, especially to females, of how golf can help in the rehabilitation of current and ex Service personnel.
In 2006 Kate was commissioned as
a member of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers based at Catterick Garrison in North Yorks and several postings around the world followed. In 2012, while serving in Afghanistan, she suffered with consistent toothache so when she returned to the UK in April 2013 she visited a number of specialists.
Initially it was thought that she had
a large dental cyst and it was not until almost six months later in September 2013 that she received the shattering news that would dramatically change her life. A huge tumour was eating through her jaw and there was no time to waste.
Six months of gruelling chemotherapy began and then in April 2014 Kate had an operation to remove her jaw that was subsequently rebuilt using 20cms from her left fibula. Another six months of chemotherapy followed. Having represented the army in several sports including rugby and hockey, it was hugely frustrating for Kate not to be able to partake in any activities. Golf had previously been a ‘mess-around’ sport, playing the odd 9 holes in flip-flops, but recognising her frustration, Kate’s boyfriend bought her a putter.
Once Kate was stronger and she could transfer weight onto both legs, she visited the driving range, but it
was not until last autumn when her chemotherapy sessions had finished that she fondly remembers discovering the On Course Foundation.
“The charity was promoting a three- day event, I was still very weak and wearing a wig at the time, but I thought I would go for it.”
To find out more about Kate’s inspirational story and the work of the On Course Foundation, or to read other similar columns and features, take a look at the current issue Women and Golf Magazine that is on sale now.
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For more information visit www.oncoursefoundation.com/how-to-help