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Haverhill Gymnastics Club still searching for its own home

Haverhill Gymnastics Club chairman, Kevin Woolcott ANL-140712-232259009
Haverhill Gymnastics Club chairman, Kevin Woolcott ANL-140712-232259009

The issue faced by Harry White and his family is a microcosm of the wider problems facing Haverhill Gymnastics Club as they seek to find a dedicated centre in which to meet.

The club’s membership of 260 has been at capacity for some time and its waiting list continues to grow almost daily.

The club’s chairman, Kevin Woolcott, explained: “We’ve got a current membership of 260 children, from pre-school age up to adult age.

“The waiting list grows on a daily basis, it’s bigger than 400.

“It just grows and grows and grows and its frustrating because people just phone and say I’ve put my child on your waiting list a year ago a nd I groan and say, ‘your daughter is number 199 on the list’.”

The club has for some time been working towards raising £670,000 for a new, purpose-built centre for gymnastics as well as free-running that would be located on land at Samuel Ward Academy.

A dedicated centre would enable the club to hold coaching sessions seven days a week instead of just on Monday, Tuesday, Friday (pre-school age only) and Saturday as it does at Haverhill Leisure Centre and have the ability to increase its membership.

The project has gained financial support from British Gymnastics, Sport England, Haverhill Town Council (which pledged £25,000 last July) and others.

Critically though, a bank loan of £250,000 was withdrawn because the new facility would be on land owned by the Samuel Ward Trust and therefore its lease could not be taken over by the bank should the club default on the loan repayment.

Mr Woolcott explained the impact on the club, saying: “We’ve got to find another £260,000 from external funding pots, which is probably a step too far.

“British Gymnastics and Sport England are still supporting us (as is Haverhill Town Council) and are inviting us to come back again.

“At the moment we’ve put that on the back burner until we can find more external funding.

“Until then we’ve decided the way forward at the moment would be to try and find a commercial unit and try and gain a change of use.”

The club has had some knock backs in its attempt to find a unit, either because some owners were not prepared to allow a change of use or because their price was too high, but the search goes on.

Leasing is also something the club would consider.

Mr Woolcott added: “If there are any units out there on the market that are going to be put up for sale, we would consider them.”

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