One of the North East’s best-known charities is attracting national sporting attention after completing work on a major refurbishment of its sports hall.
The Percy Hedley Foundation has installed a new sprung floor and a new LED lighting system in the hall, which is used for a range of disability sports such as powerchair football, wheelchair basketball and boccia, as well as by a number of other community sports clubs including Killingworth Archers, Cobra Martial Arts, Killingworth Aikido, and Killingworth Young Peoples Club.
A £13,140 grant given by North East employer The Banks Group via its Banks Community Fund covered more than half of the £25,000 project’s cost, with the remainder being raised through fundraising activities carried out by Foundation supporters.
And since the new facilities have become available, Boccia England, the country’s national governing body for Boccia, has begun to use them as a training location for its Vipers development squad, which forms part of the development pathway for players progressing towards the sport’s elite levels and potentially onto participation in the Paralympics.
Headquartered in Forest Hall in Newcastle, the Foundation provides a wide range of high quality, specialist and personalised care and education support to disabled children, young people and adults and their families.
Its education services include Hedley’s Percy Hedley School, Hedley’s Northern Counties School, Hedley’s College and residential and respite care for all ages, while adult residential and day activities are also offered.
It needs to raise around £500k every year to ensure it can provide the fullest possible range of services, and receives the support of hundreds of fundraising volunteers from around the region and beyond who help it reach its target
Maggie Bailey, bid and funding manager at the Percy Hedley Foundation, says: “The sports hall was built over a decade ago and is extremely well used, but the constant use of powerchairs and wheelchairs has taken its toll on the floor and had almost worn away the lines that mark out the courts we use for different sports.
“The existing strip lighting was also far from ideal as light sensitivity can be an issue for some of our sporting participants, so we knew that including a lighting upgrade was a crucial part of the refurbishment project.
“With demand continuing to grow for all our services and some of our funding resources coming under pressure, there’s never a shortage of things on which we can allocate our budgets, and without the support of our fantastic fundraisers and the generous contribution of the Banks Group, this project would very likely have been delayed for some time.
“It’s made a massive difference to the quality of the facilities we can offer both to our own service users and other outside groups, and the efficiency of the new lighting system is also going to help us make considerable energy and cost savings.
“Having the Vipers choose to train with us is a testament to how good the hall now is, and it would be fantastic if we could be part of the development of some Paralympic stars of the future.”
Chris Kelsey, communications manager at the Banks Group, adds: “The Percy Hedley Foundation is an iconic North East charity that has made a huge difference to the lives of thousands of people with disabilities and their families on many different levels.
“The new sports hall looks fantastic, and it’s great to know that it’s being so well used by both the Foundation and the wider community.”
Projects, community groups, or voluntary organisations looking for grant funding from the Banks Community Fund should contact James Eaglesham on 0191 378 6342 or visit www.banksgroup.co.uk/corporate-responsibility/banks-community-fund
For more information about the Percy Hedley Foundation, please see: www.percyhedley.org.uk