March 9, 2017 | Community News
(left) Tom Scarry, committee member at the Blue Flames Sporting Club, with Chris Kelsey of The Banks Group
A successful North Tyneside community sports club is feeling fit for the future after winning a five-figure grant from a regional employer to help renew the equipment available to the thousands of people that use its facilities.
The Blue Flames Sporting Club is a not-for-profit Community Amateur Sports Club which aims to provide quality affordable indoor and outdoor sports activities for all sections of the local community.
The Club, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, receives around 170,000 visitors every year, with activities offered ranging from netball, football and cricket through to badminton, fitness bootcamps and a well-equipped gym.
As part of ensuring that it continues to remain viable and offer visiting players the facilities they require, the Club had been looking at how it could afford to update some of its ageing equipment and facilities, and especially considering how it could replace the sets of metal football goals provided for 11-a-side games, which were hard to manoeuvre and becoming increasingly unsafe.
After approaching regional employer the Banks Group for support, a £15,000 grant from the Banks Community Fund has enabled the Club to purchase two new sets of lightweight full-size goals, as well as new sets of five-a-side goals, netball posts, tennis nets, gym mats and badminton nets.
The netting which is used to divide the indoor hall during different sports activities has been substantially upgraded to improve the experience that players get while on site, while improvements have also been made to the club’s toilet facilities.
And the volunteer committee that runs the Blue Flames Club is hoping that all the improvements they’ve been able to make will encourage even more local people to get involved with the events hosted there.
Based at Whitley Park, next to Newcastle United’s training ground, the Blue Flames site encompasses 15 acres of grassland and a sports hall, with people of all ages and abilities participating in sports and other activities.
The facilities are available 360 days a year, and they also play host to regular charity events, school outings, family fun days and other private functions, the revenues from which help the club to keep its prices as low as possible.
Tom Scarry, committee member at the Blue Flames Sporting Club, says: “Balancing the need to make our facilities accessible to everyone with the need to balance the books is always a real challenge for us, and it means that we simply don’t have the money needed to replace or upgrade equipment as and when we want.
“The state of the football goals were becoming an urgent problem for us, and we were at risk of having to call games off if we hadn’t been able to replace them.
“The value of this grant to the local community really is incalculable – not only will it aid the health and well-being of the people that take part in the different things that we offer, but their participation in our events also helps new friendships to form and adds greatly to cohesion in local communities.”
“We’re trying to widen the range of activities that we offer, and the recent introduction of walking football, walking netball and badminton has really drawn people in who’ve never been along before.
“It’s great to see residents coming together in this way, and the improvements that this funding has allowed us to make will hopefully encourage even more people to see what we have to offer.”
Chris Kelsey, communications manager at the Banks Group, adds: “The Blue Flames Sporting Club is a real community success story, and the work that the volunteer committee members put into keeping is going it extremely impressive.
“We’re very pleased to be able to play our part in supporting the excellent work that the Club does, and hope everyone enjoys making the most of what’s available.”
The Banks Community Fund provides grants for community groups and voluntary organisations in the vicinity of Banks Group projects.
Anyone interested in applying for funding should contact James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342 to check if their group or project is eligible.