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Revitalised by tee breaks

At the end of a tough day in the classroom Nicki Timmins unwinds with a round of golf - at international championships.

For two years the 24-year-old has juggled her graduate teacher traineeship at Pent Valley technology college in Folkestone, Kent, with a position on the England golfing team.

She is not alone in her passion for amateur golf at Pent Valley. More than 25 staff play regularly and the teachers organise weekly tournaments against other schools.

Miss Timmins is one of two staff recruited after a chance encounter on the green with headteacher Gwen Spear.

The sport is even shared by the pupils. Sian Reddick, an A-level student, recently won the English Ladies' closed amateur championships and secured a scholarship to study business at a Texas university.

This weekend Miss Timmins, a trainee maths teacher, starts her defence of her title at the English Intermediate Championships in Hertfordshire.

She played amateur golf for Great Britain in the Curtis Cup tournament against America recently and believes the game complements her teaching career. "Standing in front of a class was daunting in the beginning but as I have become happier with it I have grown in confidence and I take that on to the green," she said.

"It's more intense on the golf course and you are focused on yourself. In the classroom you are thinking how you can help others perform well.

"I could not do just teaching or just golf. Combining the two I get the right mix of intensity, variety and social interaction."

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