Young Northumberland athletes showing vaulting ambition thanks to Banks Group support

August 22, 2013 | Brenkley News

Young north east athletes are getting their first chance to try their hand at a new sport thanks to the support of a local employer.

Morpeth Harriers & Athletic Club completed work last year on the installation of a new synthetic 400m athletics track and associated field event facilities at the town’s King Edward VI High School.

As part of the club’s continuing development, they have now introduced new pole vault stands and landing area after receiving a £5,000 grant from Banks Mining, via its Banks Community Fund.

The new equipment will enable the Harriers to host inter-club competitions, as well as giving their young members the chance to give pole vaulting a try for themselves with the help of a specialist coach who is already part of the club.

Originally established in 1946, Morpeth Harriers is one of the north east’s leading athletics clubs, and has around 350 junior and senior members who primarily come from across south east Northumberland, but who also come from as far afield as Berwick and Tyneside.

It holds regular ‘try it’ events for a range of different disciplines in association with the Northumberland Athletics Network, and opens up its new facilities for use by local schools, other nearby athletics clubs and the wider community.

Club secretary Mike Bateman says: “The installation of the new track has been a real landmark for us, and has given us the impetus to widen the range of athletic disciplines that we offer as far as we can.

“The pole vault equipment was the most costly item on our shopping list, but it’s already garnered a lot of interest from our younger members – one of them has already taken the sport up competitively, and we’re hoping that more will follow this example as more of our younger members give it a go.

“The competitions that we host involve quite significant costs, which means that affording capital purchases like this can be a real challenge, so we’re very grateful to Banks for helping us introduce equipment that we know is going to be well-used for many seasons to come.”

Banks is currently looking to secure planning permission for additional work at the Shotton and Brenkley Lane surface mines, at which around 200 people are currently employed and which contribute around £35m every year to the local economy through wages and the supply chain.

Elsewhere in Northumberland, the company is also carrying out public consultation on its initial plans for the Highthorn Surface Mine near Widdrington Station and around its proposed development of over 400 new homes in Ponteland.

Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at Banks Group, adds: “Morpeth Harriers has long had a fantastic reputation for supporting and encouraging community-based sport, and we’re very pleased to be able to support the latest stage of their development.”

Projects, community groups, or voluntary organisations looking for funding in the vicinity of a Banks Group development should contact James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342.

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