Hole in one as Lesters and Loughborough University deliver new Boccia ramp and golf game

One of the UK’s fastest growing manufacturers of high-performance packaging has joined forces with Dr George Torrens at Loughborough University to develop a specialist ‘Boccia’ ramp.

Lesters, which employs over 60 people at its factory in Burntwood, has used its strong design values and knowledge of cardboard to come up with a fully recyclable product for the paralympic sport that involves propelling balls from a seated position to land as close as possible to the ‘Jack’.

The corrugated fibreboard ramp has been trialled by Special Olympics Lincolnshire sports coaches Clare Pattison and Angela Morley over the last six months and could soon be replacing the more costly commercial alternatives currently being used by athletes.

Better still, the company and Dr Torrens have gone one stage further by developing an inclusive golf game from the same material, where players can send golf balls, Boccia/tennis balls and even bean bags down the ramp into five different holes.

It has been designed to be foldable so it can fit into a standard car boot, making it easy to transport between events and schools.

Greg Burton, Design Manager at Lesters, commented: “We are always looking for ways where we can harness the power of corrugated fibreboard for the ‘greater good’ and the opportunity to produce ramps for the superb game of Boccia was too good to turn down.

“I’ve had a great relationship with Dr Torrens, Senior Lecturer in Industrial Design and Assistive Products at Loughborough University, for some time. He’s the grandfather of one of the Special Olympics athletes so had a vested interest in coming up with a solution that is effective and easy to produce.”

He went on to add: “The first challenge was coming up with the ramp that could be used by Boccia players and that’s exactly what we did, designing a 100% recyclable product that delivers excellent performance yet is one tenth of the cost of existing alternatives.

“Following successful trials by a number of sports coaches, we are hoping these will be bought in volume from various UK and European suppliers and distributors.”

The second element of the challenge was to develop an all-inclusive game, something Lesters embraced in a matter of weeks.

Utilising the skills of its 4-strong design team, state-of-the-art CAD design software and prototyping table, the company was able to deliver a solution and a limited number of games quickly and within budget.

Clare Pattison, a sports coach at Special Olympics Lincolnshire, added her support: “All the athletes have been drawn to the inclusive golf game, with players queuing up to use it.

“This has massively benefited their social skills, such as taking turns and making friends, as well as helping athletes to adapt to standing sideways, with more able and confident players using a golf club and ball.”

Fellow sports coach Angela Morley continued: “Families have also been more actively involved with their children whilst playing, which is a good thing. We even had a son engage with their parent for five minutes, collecting the balls off them to send down the ramp – this is astonishing considering he previously had preferred to spin around the room on his own for the entire session.” 

Lesters has focused recent expansion on creating an ecosystem around the company’s core box range and now offers clients an industry-leading design and innovation centre, access to a warehousing service that includes just-in-time delivery and a signature delivery service that is ideal for large, bulky, or expensive products.

Whilst the golf game was initially produced in low volume CAD table versions, there is the possibility to take the design into a higher volume flatbed operation if demand dictates.

Greg concluded: “To our knowledge this is one of the very few times that corrugated fibreboard has been used to manufacture a product that isn’t just used as packaging. It could open the floodgates for the industry and designers to use more of this sustainable medium in the future for other applications.”

For further information, please visit www.lesterspackaging.co.uk

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