20 Nov 2008

Organisers of a Gwynedd paddle sports club are in buoyant mood after National Lottery funding has helped them to accommodate a rapid expansion of paddling enthusiasts.

Clwb Padlo Blaenau has been awarded £1000 to enable them to continue providing canoe and kayaking sessions for local juniors and adult members. The funding will go towards facility hire at Blaenau Ffestiniog Swimming Pool to provide subsidised weekly pool-based sessions as part of a rolling winter programme to get locals involved in paddle sports at an affordable price.

Last winter, the club hosted Communities First and Antur Stiniog funded taster sessions for adults and juniors which, to the delight of organisers, were heavily oversubscribed. They also held a community day on Tanygrisiau Reservoir back in August, which attracted 50 people of all ages to go along and try paddling a canoe or kayak. These new additional sessions will cater for the high demand and will enable them to provide sessions for nearly 50 new members, including disabled participants. The funding will also help four further coaches to gain relevant coaching standards.

Clwb Padlo Blaenau secretary, Katherine Garwood said, "Economically, Blaenau has been in decline over the last fifty years and is referred to as a ‘neglected town and an unemployment black spot.’ The community in Blaenau Ffestiniog has limited access to outdoor activities locally due to equipment and tutor shortages. We want to promote the healthy lifestyle, challenge, fun and self fulfillment achieved by paddle sport participation.

"We want to raise the profile of outdoor pursuits in the area, to develop economic opportunities, to enable the training of Welsh speaking coaches, to develop links with education and parallel on the water the good work which other local clubs are doing on the rock faces, cycle tracks and mountains of Gwynedd.

"The county is home to some of the best white water in Britain and local people need to develop skills to promote this as a tourist attraction, thus helping to regenerate the local economy and providing long term opportunities for local employment within the sports and leisure industry."

Since the inception of the Sports Council for Wales’ Community Chest scheme in 1999, communities across the length and breadth of Wales have been investing heavily in sports and physical activity projects.

Chair of the Sports Council for Wales, Philip Carling, said:

"Community Chest has been and continues to be a huge success and is very popular throughout Gwynedd. The increase in funding and the greater scope of the scheme will increase its effectiveness.

"Panels based in each of the 22 local authorities in Wales hold the purse strings and have delegated authority to award grants to worthwhile projects. We want to hear of bright ideas and projects that will get more people in Gwynedd more active, more often."

As a result of the popularity and undoubted success of the scheme, the Sports Council for Wales is raising the level of grant. Organisations keen to develop sport and physical activity in Wales can now receive up to £1000 for a qualifying project over a 12 month period.

The scope of the scheme has also been widened. Grants have traditionally been awarded to sports clubs and sporting bodies. Now most organisations seeking to develop physical activity and sporting projects will be eligible for an award.

The Community Chest has recently been infiltrating additional areas of work such as the voluntary sector (e.g. Voluntary Youth Clubs, Women’s Institute) and the workplace, as well as continuing to support projects in the health and education arenas. So while funding the local football club might get the younger members of the community moving, backing a walking group will encourage more adults to get active.

To remove the obstacles and to get your project going, call your Sports Council for Wales regional office:

North Wales:

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