An eight-year-old gymnast with ambitions of competing in the Olympics is having to leave Haverhill Gymnastics Club and travel three times a week to Colchester in order to be able to continue pursuing his dream.
The predicament facing Harry White has led his dad to call on the people of Haverhill to show more support for the club - one which his son has until this week been attending for five years.
Harry, who lives in Haverhill with his mum Gemma, dad and two siblings and has won all three of the inter-club competitions he has so far entered, is now looking to train towards his elite grade, which would open the pathway to national selection.
To make the grade Harry, a New Cangle Primary School pupil, needs to start at 12 hours training per week, building up to 20, but with Haverhill only able to provide a maximum of eight hours a week he must move to Colchester Gymnastics Club for this to be possible.
The situation, said Harry’s dad, Michael, is no slight on Haverhill Gymnastics Club because it is only able to meet certain days of the week at Haverhill Leisure Centre.
The club is in the process of trying to find a dedicated centre of its own where it can offer coaching sessions seven days a week, but could, said Mr White, do with a helping hand in making it possible.
He said: “We’ve got people in the town who can do things but we are not helping them.
“If people were to try and help the club to get funding, Harry can stay at the club that’s become his second home.
“We’ve spent every Monday, Tuesday and Saturday down there every week but now an eight year-old boy is going to have to travel down to Colchester three times a week.
“It’s almost breaking my heart because they’ve got to say goodbye to someone who they’ve been training for five years.
“He wants to get to the Olympics and if you ask Harry, ‘how do you feel about it’, he says ‘I feel sad that I’ve got to leave Haverhill’ but I know he’s got to leave Haverhill to get to the Olympics.
“We’ve got to do more as a town.”
Mr White is now looking into getting a scholarship for Harry and is hoping to find a sponsor for the extra cost of going to Colchester, which he estimates will amount to £200 a month extra in petrol and £96 a month in fees.
Haverhill Gymnastics Club chairman, Kevin Woolcott, said: “We have just spent five years developing Harry’s skills only to watch him go.
“I can see the bigger picture. It does happen more but if we had kept him here it would be wrong.”
Harry’s situation is not unique, added Mr Woolcott, who has also seen at least two other girls leave in similar circumstances recently.
“In terms of Harry it’s a shame for us. We’ve built up a working relationship with him. He’s built up a relationship with us. He’s comfortable with the surroundings and that going to change and that’s hard for an eight-year-old.”