Coral Warren 1200

Inspirational Coral Warren has spent decades using badminton to support women with cancer and wants to spread the word about the sport’s power when it comes to aiding recovery.

Warren, 85, created the Sport Action for Women with and after Cancer group in 1995, seven years after she was diagnosed herself.

The ambition was for women who have, or have had, cancer to socialise and get active together, and the club remains true to that ethos 28 years on.

Warren, from Wymondham, Norfolk, was inspired to start the group when she was approached as a badminton coach by a woman who had breast cancer.

By suggesting subtle adaptations to her technique, Warren proved to her that she could still play badminton and there are countless similar stories from those she has assisted over the years.

Warren knew from personal experience the potential struggles other women may go through and that empathy has proved crucial in the group’s success.

“I was already a badminton coach and assessor and then in 1995, someone was sent to me after having breast cancer as she was worried she wouldn’t be able to play badminton again,” she said.

“She was worried about her limitations, but I worked with her on how she could change her stance and grip to suit her ability.

“I started gently throwing shuttles towards her and she said ‘I’ll remember this day for the rest of my life’.”

Following a successful open day, the group went from strength to strength and before long, aqua and yoga classes were added to accommodate for all members.

When Norwich Sports Village closed down, Sport Action moved to UEA Sportspark and in 2013, a choir was created, as one member was worried about their husband having no hobbies if they were to pass away.

This choir has gone to help not just members but their loved ones too, with Warren – whose late husband, Clive, was also a badminton coach – having created a truly welcoming environment.

“It doesn’t matter how many years ago people were diagnosed or, as I like to say, touched by cancer,” she added.

“Coming along to our sessions gives hope and inspiration to newly diagnosed individuals and it is important for survivors to attend too, as it provides hope for those recently diagnosed or still battling cancer.

“We started with about seven players and it has just snowballed from that original open day.

“There are endless benefits to badminton for women who have, or are recovering from, cancer.

“A badminton racket is lighter than some other racket sports and we have also introduced yoga as well, for those who feel too frail or ill for a different sport.”

Warren’s efforts were recognised in the New Year’s Honours list earlier this year, when she received a British Empire Medal (BEM).

On the honour, she said: “I was overwhelmed, it came out the blue.

“It is lovely to get the recognition and I would love to help anyone get a group going in their own area.”

To find out more about Coral’s Sport Action group, contact or visit

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