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Clare may be Suffolk's smallest town, but it's been deemed the most active

Clare has been crowned ‘Most Active Town in Suffolk', at an awards evening on Tuesday organised by Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Association of Local Councils.

The awards, now in their fifth year, recognise and celebrate communities in Suffolk that are going the extra mile to encourage their residents to be active.

Whilst Clare is Suffolk’s smallest town, it punches above its weight when providing opportunities for its community to be active.

The judges were impressed with the range of activities in the town, particularly the opportunities for those who wouldn’t naturally engage in physical activities.

Much of the green space maintenance in the Clare Castle Country Park is now undertaken by volunteers and the Park hosts a Park Run, Bowls Club, ‘Boot Camp’, health walks, and Nordic walking classes.

A year ago, new play equipment was installed for children, doubling the size of the Country Park play area.

The Park is also implementing a major Heritage Lottery Fund project that includes further family and community-oriented activities.

Local management of the Park spawned a Walks Group that created 6 circular walks from the Park, introduced a monthly walks programme, participated in the Suffolk Walking Festival and gained ‘Walkers are Welcome’ accreditation for the town last October.

Extra-curricular activities for children and young people abound in the town’s two schools and the secondary school, Stour Valley Community School, opened its swimming pool to the local community this summer with uptake in the hundreds.

In addition, Clare Playing Fields Association provides sporting facilities, particularly soccer, with two adult and four junior teams, as well as hosting yoga classes, pilates and HIIT Fitness classes.

Clare Golf Club enhanced its facilities in 2017 and is attracting new players of all ages to its attractive 9-hole course.

The 1st Clare Scout Group has over 70 young people aged 6-16 who engage in a range of indoor and outdoor activities at weekly meetings.

From left: Davina Neale, Val Phillips and Sara Bevan with Clare's Most Active Town in Suffolk award
From left: Davina Neale, Val Phillips and Sara Bevan with Clare's Most Active Town in Suffolk award

Clare also boasts weekly badminton and yoga classes. The Baptist Church runs a Friday Club providing table tennis and other games.

CLASP, Clare’s welfare charity, offers outings in the Park and elsewhere, and monthly seated exercises, to its 30 elderly and disabled members.

Paul Bishop, chairman of Clare Town Council, said “I am delighted that Clare has received this award which is a tribute to the hard work of so many people across the town in providing such an amazing range of things for people to do.”

Clare Walkers’ Chairman and Park Trustee Derek Blake, who co-ordinated the town’s bid, said: "There is so much going on in the town that the biggest challenge was how to capture it all within the 500 word allowance!”

Clare’s representatives at the awards presentation at the Blackbourne Community Centre, Elmswell, were Geoffrey Bray, Chair of Clare Castle Country Park Trustees, Sara Bevan, organiser of Clare Parkrun, Peter and Val Phillips: Clare Walkers and Health Walk leaders and Davina Neale, from Clare Town Council.

The awards were presented by Cllr James Reeder, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for health who said, “Without doubt, town and parish councils are a major provider of physical activity, facilities and opportunities.

"Whether providing playgrounds, sports halls, open space, football pitches, allotments, walking routes, fitness classes or special events, the scope and variety of provision is large and varied."

Also in attendance was Jo Churchill, MP for St Edmundsbury who commended the winners for their achievements.

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