Town wins Olympic youth legacy prize

Duncan Skelton of Sport England presents the award to Angela Harrison of Longridge Community Gym
Duncan Skelton of Sport England presents the award to Angela Harrison of Longridge Community Gym

Longridge Community Gym has beaten sports centres in Manchester and Liverpool to win the prestigious North West Sportivate project of the year.

The gym was voted best in the north-west for its inspiring work with young people in the Olympic and Paralympic legacy project. Its leaders, Angie Harrison and Darren Salmon, received the award from Sport England’s Duncan Skelton on Monday.

He said that the gym’s work had inspired dozens of young people to get into sport, with the Youth Gym and Urban Sports bringing gym fitness and multi-adapted sports into the heart of the town.

Angie and Darren said they were thrilled and surprised to have won, particularly against fierce competition from larger projects in Manchester, Liverpool, Cumbria and Cheshire.

“The youth gym’s success is due to the great attendance and the fun and energy of the young people, plus the hard work and support from volunteers Lee Dowthwaite and Oliver Pye,” said Angie.

“We have seen many young people choosing to attend and enjoy the youth gym rather than hang around on the street. Now we are looking for local funding or sponsorship to help the sessions remain sustainable.”

Longridge Youth Gym and Urban Sports offers non-competitive inclusive sessions to young people in the area in a bid to combat anti-social behaviour. The sessions mix outdoor games and sports, with time in the fitness suite to use the equipment, weights or boxing and gives them an opportunity to take part in an activity that can be enjoyed into adulthood.

Mark Stephenson, Sportivate lead officer at the Lancashire Sport Partnership said: “Sportivate has been such a great success right across Lancashire and is making a positive impact on young people’s lives. Through Sportivate we are hoping thousands of young people get excited about all kinds of sports and activities. Its thanks to people like Angela Harrison who make these activities so enjoyable and welcoming that more and more young people are getting involved”

Millie Forrest, 17, who attends the Friday night sessions, added: “It’s a great way to socialise while exercising and to meet new people and make new friends.

“I like having the variety of going outside for sport and using the gym equipment.

“I also enjoy the fun challenges, as they motivate me to work hard and we have a laugh while we are doing them “

Angie says that anyone interested in finding out more about the youth gym or any other services or sessions, should call in for chat or phone 01772 923986.