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Three Sport England projects win Big

Three community sports projects to benefit from Sport England funding are among the winners of the 2013 Big Society Awards, receiving recognition for their contribution to their local communities through sport.


InstructAbility is the brainchild of Aspire, a leading national charity supporting people with spinal cord injuries and YMCAfit, the leading fitness industry training provider.  Driven by a desire to help provide a lasting legacy from the 2012 Paralympics by tackling the under representation of disabled people in the fitness industry, both organisations joined forces over three years ago to design and deliver the programme.

The programme offers participants the chance to gain a Level 2 gym instructor qualification and gives support to find employment within the fitness industry. Over 40 per cent of graduates have gone on to get jobs as fitness professionals. Once qualified, instructors undertake a voluntary placement in the industry where they work to encourage more disabled people to get active, making them feel welcome in gyms and sports clubs.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: "This time last year we were celebrating the start of the greatest Paralympic Games ever. Today I’m delighted to be recognising the work of a programme which is doing so much to secure the games’ lasting legacy.

Brian Carlin, Chief Executive of Aspire said: “We hope this award will raise the profile of the project and encourage more disabled people to take up opportunities to get involved either as gym users or as instructors. We firmly believe that the way to ensure society becomes more inclusive is to ensure there is equality in service delivery as well as service use”.

Fencing North East

Set up in 2008 in partnership with the universities of Durham and Northumbria, Fencing North East has been providing opportunities in the sport for young people in Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, Durham, Cumbria and Teesside who have gone on to compete at National, European, and Paralympic levels. It has trained 69 unemployed young people as ‘Go Fence’ leaders, who have in turn introduced over 800 people from their communities to Fencing. Inspired by the 2012 Olympics, and supported by its successful partnership approach and dedicated volunteers, the group hopes to take 10 leaders to Rio during the 2016 Olympics.

The Prime Minister said: "Fencing North East has had a real impact across the North East, inspiring young people to take up a new sport and helping them gain confidence, skills and even qualifications.

“I’m delighted to be recognising the achievements of everyone who volunteers, coaches and takes part with this Big Society Award."

Marie Matheson, Chair of Fencing North East, said: "I'm very proud of my involvement with Fencing North East, and have found working with all of our volunteers and participants inspirational on so many levels. I'm delighted that the hard work and creativity of our volunteers has been recognised with a Big Society Award from the Prime Minister".

Herne Hill Velodrome

Herne Hill Velodrome, based in south east London, was saved by the local community and volunteers when faced with closure. The historic site, the last remaining venue still in operation from the 1948 Olympic Games, is enjoyed by thousands or people each year.

The 450 metre cycling track accommodates a wide range of users, from school kids learning to ride a bike for the first time up to professionals training and racing. Bradley Wiggins, Laura Trott, Joanna Rowsell and Jody Cundy all started their cycling careers here and the trust hope to generate yet more Olympians in the future. Tommy Godwin, 2-time medal winner in the 1948 Games, worked alongside fellow volunteers to save the track.

Mr Cameron said: “Although the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games remain fresh in all our minds, it is great that there is still a legacy from the 1948 Games in south London.

“Thanks to the hard work of local people and a bit of help from inspirational cycling heroes, cyclists of all ages and abilities can now enjoy using Herne Hill Velodrome and maybe one day follow in the footsteps of Bradley Wiggins, Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton and Chris Froome.

“Herne Hill Velodrome is a fantastic London landmark and an excellent example of the Big Society.”

Hillary Peachey, Chair of the Herne Hill Velodrome Trust, the charity set up to help save the historic site, said: “Thanks to all our partners, volunteers and supporters, we have completed 2 phases of the project. It is great for us all to be recognised by the Prime Minister for our efforts. We will launch a fundraising campaign in September for the third phase, the development of a new pavilion on the site. We desperately need new indoor facilities – space for specialised training sessions, for clubs and user groups, for showers and toilets, for changing rooms and for a cafe”.

The group is due to launch their funding campaign with the support of Sport England and the London Marathon Trust to build a pavilion to improve indoor visitor facilities, to keep the velodrome thriving, and as a local community resource for all to enjoy every aspect of cycling from track to mountain biking.

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