Ellie Mans will mark her 18th birthday by freefalling from the sky in the name of providing opportunities for girls in Dorset and Hampshire.
Most teens celebrate their 18th birthday with a party and their first official hangover. But for one extraordinary young woman, turning 18 means not only embracing adulthood but also taking a daring leap — quite literally — for two causes close to her heart.
Ellie will be raising money for Dorset Girls Golf, to ensure there are opportunities for girls to get into golf and develop their game so that they have a skill for life.
The Dorset Junior Captain and SW England squad member will also be fundraising for Will Does, a charity that supports the wellbeing of young people. Dedicated to the memory of 14-year-old William Paddy, Will Does aims to introduce young people to sports and other activities to help them connect and engage socially, and develop coping mechanisms to help manage anxiety and emotions.
So as she prepares to plunge through the skies, we caught up with Ellie to find out more about her motivations behind the milestone leap.
How long have you been playing golf and how did you get into the game?
I’ve been playing golf for around 12 years, since I was 6. I started at my local golf club as they ran (and still do!) a Saturday morning session to introduce juniors to golf. But the biggest attraction was the chance to win a chocolate bar at the end-of-session putting competition!
What challenges do you think young girls face and what stops them from taking up golf?
Golf clubs remain male-dominated, and many junior girls and women feel unwelcome if they start alone, without any support (just as I did). If girls can start with a friend at a grass root level, the whole experience of learning golf becomes more enjoyable. Other challenges even include the strict attire – I was reported to the committee for wearing leggings on the course!
How do you think we can attract and keep more girls and women in golf?
More chocolate bars and Saturday morning sessions! The club that holds these sessions has an almost full junior section whereas other clubs with no junior programme have single-figure junior members. I’ve seen more and more girls attend these sessions and I’m very excited to see them start competing!
To help these girls, I think it’s vital that there are experienced role models for them to provide knowledge and advice on and off the course, the best way to learn is to play and learn from better and more experienced golfers.
How do you hope the money you raise will be used to get more girls into golf?
50% of the funds will be sent to Dorset girls golf which will provide a foundation for future young girl golfers to begin and improve their golf. The money will pay for training sessions, equipment and uniform for the county girls.
The Will Does charity aims to support young people and their mental health. What role do you think golf plays in helping to manage anxiety and emotions?
Golf is a great way to socialise and exercise with friends and, for me, a catharsis to release frustration, especially on the driving range when you can whack a driver!
However, as you progress to higher levels in golf, anxiety and nerves become a familiar feeling as golf is a very psychological sport. Through my golf journey, I have experienced anger, frustration, anxiety and many, many tears (I’m a very competitive person). That’s helped me develop as a person and these many situations in golf reflect life so I now know how to handle winning, losing and pressurised circumstances.
Why a skydive?!
I wanted to make my 18th birthday memorable, and my dad was an airborne soldier so this should come naturally to me!
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