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Sudbury: Push for community sport day

10:00 31 January 2013

The Party in the Park at Belle Vue Park, Sudbury in full swing last year

The Party in the Park at Belle Vue Park, Sudbury in full swing last year

A POPULAR festival could be extended to include a day of sporting activities following an “overwhelming” response to the London Olympics.

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Babergh community development officer, Sue Longhurst, told Sudbury town council’s leisure and environment committee this week that since London 2012, she had been “inundated” with requests from sports clubs looking for help to expand.

As part of the Olympic legacy, communities are being encouraged to come together and plan an event that showcases sporting activities available within their locality.

Sudbury councillors are investigating the possibility of expanding the town’s annual Party in the Park to a weekend event, to incorporate a full day of sports taster sessions that would give local clubs more exposure and enable residents to try out new activities.

According to the county council, Suffolk is one of the most “inactive” counties in England. But, Ms Longhurst said the Babergh area had a thriving community sport network. In addition since the Olympics, a cycling club has been established in Sudbury for the first time and sport England and the Lawn Tennis Association have just donated £1,900 for a junior tennis project in the town, which will get under way from February 5.

Ms Longhurst added: “Sudbury is our biggest market town and we are lucky to have thriving rugby, football, tennis, running and rowing clubs, a sports centre which is open to the community and a well-used leisure centre and swimming pool. In fact there is so much happening sport-wise in the Babergh area that communcation is our biggest problem. We are currently working with clubs to find the best way to provide regular updates about what’s available so people are fully aware of the full range of activities.”

Sudbury mayor Jack Owen said the council should aim to add a community sports day to next year’s party in the park, adding: “It will take a lot of organisation, but I am sure many of the local clubs who already run taster sessions on a small scale at the event will be keen to expand into a full day of activities. It will be a great way of showcasing what we have to offer and get people involved in sport.”

The push by Babergh to help existing sports clubs to build their capacity is being tied in with Suffolk County Council’s bid to become the ‘most active county’. Figures recently released by the county suggest that 1,000 people die in Suffolk every year from conditions related to physical inactivity. The health costs of illnesses related to physical inactivity in Suffolk are about £12.2 million and it is estimated that more than half of all adults in the county do no sport or active recreation at all.

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