Published: 06:00, 02 March 2021
England Golf’s newly named unsung hero Zung Tang-Bennett was left stunned when European Tour professional Tommy Fleetwood gatecrashed a video chat.
Tang-Bennett, who was Faversham Golf Club’s 2020 lady captain, started a knitting club during lockdown to help raise money for charity and even managed to sell a couple of headbands to the world no.21 golfer following his unexpected call.
Fleetwood was taking time out from practice at his Florida base to congratulate Zung on her efforts, which earned her the unsung hero award from England Golf - the governing body for the amateur game.
During the pandemic, Zung raised over £6,000 for the Samaritans in Canterbury after being inspired by talking with two friends who volunteered on the charity's phone lines.
Money was raised by encouraging other golf club members to make face masks as well as knitting and selling blankets for the baby unit at a local hospital and homeless charities in and around Canterbury.
Zung also reached out to members of the Faversham golf community with regular emails, including poetry and jokes, to offer a line of communication to those forced to shield or hold back from regular social activities during lockdown.
The 2018 Ryder Cup star left the Vietnamese-born golfer Zung lost for words when he joined in the online call, saying: “Thanks for everything you’ve done and keep it up.
“I’m sure no matter how small you think it is, others will think it’s a massive contribution to them and everyone is very proud of you.”
Fleetwood also offered to buy some of her knitwear and they struck a deal, with the professional golfer also agreeing to send over some signed pictures which will be auctioned off for charity.
Her award from England Golf comes following a nationwide search for an unsung hero – an ordinary golf club member or volunteer doing extraordinary things for others in the wider community.
As well as being surprised on the video call, Zung has also received a complete golf outfit from leading sportswear brand adidas.
“I’m gobsmacked and don’t know what to say about winning this” she said.
“I was star struck with Tommy taking time out from his schedule.
“I don’t feel as if I’ve done that much.
“When then the pandemic hit and we couldn’t play golf, I asked what I could do.
“I set up the knitting club for the ladies and we did that for charity.
“We sent items to Thailand for cancer patients and then knitted for local hospitals and provided hats and blankets for the homeless shelter.
“Last March, I jumped in to make face masks on my decrepit old sewing machine and sold them. That went well and other ladies at the club asked to help and I said: ‘please do.’
“We sold over £1,000 worth of face masks. Mine were basic, but they were needed at that time.
“There were a couple of others at the club – Jo and Paul – who got the ball rolling with the poetry and jokes.
“My role was to start the conversation chain.
“I had a lady at the club who has been shielding. She said to me she used to wake up every day and look forward to the emails from the group.
“I called us the ‘group of prisoners’ as we were locked down!
“She said every morning she’d log on to see emails from the group of prisoners and it cheered her up.”
Jeremy Tomlinson, England Golf’s chief executive, said: “Zung has had a wonderful effect on others and kept everyone connected.
“It’s important in these times that we have people to look up to and the examples we have received from all over the country are truly inspirational.”
She was nominated by Faversham Golf Club general manager, Paul Smith, after her tireless work in raising money for her chosen charity.
Mr Smith added: “Faversham Golf Club is very proud to have Zung as a member and as an ambassador for volunteering and women’s golf, and would like to congratulate Zung on her fantastic achievements.”