Stalham community gym boosted by charity status

Stalham Community Gym members celebrate gaining charity status. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Stalham Community Gym members celebrate gaining charity status. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Members of a community gym are celebrating after being given a special status which will make fundraising easier.

Stalham Community Gym, which currently holds three sessions a week at Stalham Baptist Church Hall in the High Street, has been granted charitable status.

The facility first opened its doors in April 2010 trail blazing the new era of community gyms which have since sprung up around the county.

It is now poised to relocate to the newly built Poppy Centre on Stalham Recreation Ground later this year where thanks to lottery funding, there will be more equipment and longer opening hours.

It will also give Stalham and district residents more flexible access to fitness.

At the Poppy Centre they will have a purpose built room and they will also have new equipment, including a new treadmill and pieces for weight training. They will also be offering a junior gym for 12-15 year-olds.

The new status from the Charity Commission is a boost for the future.

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Gym secretary Jenny Smith said: 'We are so pleased. This is another step forward and is key to our ongoing success. Now we have charitable status it means fundraising and grant applications will be so much easier.'

She added: 'At the moment it is mostly older people who are retired or people who can come during the day who use us. This will make more sessions available for a wider range of people.'

Speaking about the gym and the hard work which has gone into keeping it going, she said: 'It has been a struggle financially. Having this status endorsees the fact that we are here for the community and it also means we can access funding easier.'

When they move to the Poppy Centre, which they hope will be in the autumn when building work there is fully completed, they will be offering sessions Monday to Friday from 9am to 1pm, Tuesday and Thursday 5pm to 8pm and on Sunday 8am to 1pm.

She said the extended opening hours also meant they could cater for more people who have been referred to them by GPs. At the moment there is a waiting list.

The community gyms were introduced following the success of the council's 'mobile gym' in the various locations, and aim to provide a more permanent health and leisure facilities for local residents.

Anybody interested in joining the Stalham Community Gym should contact fitness professional Paul O'Connell on 07910 748111.