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Huge fundraising bid launched to build new bigger Halesowen gym
7:50am Thursday 6th September 2012 in News
EARLS Gymnastic Club could move into a purpose-built gym in Halesowen if a £500,000 fundraising drive is successful.
Within weeks of the Olympics finishing the club has raised more than £13,000 from local businesses, Halesowen Area Committee and the Rotary Club to buy London 2012 gym equipment.
He said: “This club is the jewel in the crown of Dudley Borough and we have to do everything in our power to keep it in the borders of Halesowen.
“The club’s current premises at Earls High School is not big enough and they have 400 people on the waiting list so we have a duty as a town to help them fulfil their potential.”
He added: “I am launching a £500,000 fundraising drive so the club will be able to buy land and build a brand new facility in Halesowen.
“The fundraising drive to get £13,000 to enable the club to buy ex-Olympic equipment really showed how proud everyone connected with the town is of the club.”
A site for the new gym has already been identified - the former Wallwell building on Huntingtree Road.
Cllr Turner said: “The Huntingtree site is perfect and I will be talking to Dudley Council about what deal we can get on the land.
“However, the most important aspect is to keep the Earls Gym Club within the borders of the town so a whole new generation of children try and go for Olympic glory like Kristian Thomas.”
The club’s annual overheads are £100,000 - mainly rent and coaches wages - and it has struggled financially over recent years largely due to the rising cost of using Earls High School and its inability to increase its income by taking more members because of time and space constraints.
Chairman Jon Caulwell said: “I am pleased that Ken has taken up the mantle - any support we can get to keep us in Halesowen and move to another site is to be welcomed.”
The club is in negotiations with the national governing body, British Gymnastics, who are in contact with other funders.
“If we could generate funding ourselves there are opportunities for match funding. If we can demonstrate increasing participation within the sport and community that will increase the potential of funding.
“We can clearly demonstrate that by the interest in the club, not just recently, but over some considerable time.”
Extra classes from 4pm until 5pm have been launched Monday to Friday in a bid to reduce what Mr Caulwell described as the club’s “embarrassingly over-long” waiting list, which he added does not take account of children who are not prepared to wait and go to other clubs or switch sports.