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Thousands getting sporty with Active Fenland

Thousands of people have got involved in some form of sport thanks to a pioneering project launched in Fenland last year.

Active Fenland celebration

The three-year Active Fenland project aims to encourage currently inactive people to take up some form of healthy physical exercise.

Over the past year nearly 3,500 people have joined in a series of activities held in multiple locations all over the district.

They have included park jogging, length swimming, badminton, outdoor table tennis, walking football and freestyle gymnastics.

More than 1,500 sessions have so far been held, attracting a total of 22,225 visits.

The project was set up by Fenland District Council with £250,000 of National Lottery funding from Sport England. Its focus, based on local people's feedback, is on relaxed, fun sessions where people can just drop in and out.

Local MP Steve Barclay played a key role in securing the funding, holding a series of meetings with the then sports minister and Sport England.

And today (Friday October 21) he attended a celebration event at the George Campbell Centre in March to mark the project's achievements over the past year. After joining in a game of walking football in West End Park, he again underlined the importance of the project.

He said: "After continuously pushing for Fenland's fair share of sporting resources, I am pleased to see the £250,000 Sport England funding has been used to drive participation in sport.

"The link between participation in sport and health and social benefits has long been established. I hope that people in Fenland have enjoyed trying new sports which have not been made available to them in the past."

Councillor Michelle Tanfield, the council's Cabinet member responsible for sport and leisure, said:"The great response we've had to the project so far shows that there are a lot of people who do want to become more active.

"The key is giving them opportunities to do that in a friendly, fun way. That helps to bring people together socially, too, which is a really important point that is often overlooked.

"Let's not forget that this is also a very serious issue. We know that Fenland suffers from widespread health problems: the research clearly shows that if you live here, you are more likely to suffer from heart disease or diabetes, to be obese and to die younger than people in the rest of the county.

"Active Fenland has a vital role in helping to counter that."

More sports are being added to the programme in its second year: they include tennis, walking netball, bowls and boxing for fitness.

More than 60 people attended Friday's celebration. Among them were several of the project's leading lights who outlined how the various activities had grown.

They included running coach Gary Bligh, walking footballers Mark Allington and Teilo Pearce and table tennis coach David Hughes.

Mike Diaper, Director of Community Sport at Sport England, said:  "We are delighted to continue to support Active Fenland.  There are lots of reasons why people can shy away from sport and being active. What makes this project work is that it starts with listening to what local people want and then delivers a range of activities to cater for their needs. 

"The thousands of people signing up prove that providing things like  drop-in classes for people with busy schedules or offering a range of low-impact sports like walking netball , can make a huge difference."

  • If you are interested in getting involved, call 01354 622399 or email Lauren Bremner, Fenland District Council's Active Fenland Activator at  .

Article added October 21, 2016