Bury St Edmunds: Olympic focus for launch of StEPs networking event

THE first in a series of breakfast meetings held in Bury St Edmunds has put the spotlight on the business opportunities from the London 2012 Olympics.

It came from David Bayliss, leisure policy officer at St Edmundsbury Borough Council, who told those attending the event at the Apex, how businesses can be part of the celebrations and get involved with everything that is happening in the run up to the games.

Organised by Ashton KCJ, the first StEPs (St Edmundsbury Professional Society) networking event attracted more than 60 guests.

While the main focus of the Olympics will be in London, Bury St Edmunds - where the Rwandan Olympic and Paralympic teams will be based - will have its own Olympic celebrations.

Mr Bayliss spoke about how delighted St Edmundsbury Council were that the Rwandan team had chosen Bury as their base, despite competition from other cities.

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From the day it was announced three years ago, they saw the link as more than just a sporting link and started planning to ensure there would be a lasting Olympic legacy in St Edmundsbury.

He explained that although it had taken a number of years for Rwanda’s infrastructure to be rebuilt following the 1994 genocide, 97% of children now receive an education. The absence of sport on the curriculum, however, prompted the council to launch Sport for Rwanda - a fundraising initiative to provide sports equipment to schools.

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Sport for Rwanda hopes to raise �80,000 to provide sports equipment to 140 schools across Rwanda.

The council has also built up links between schools in Bury and schools in Rwanda – links that will be maintained long after the Olympians have left.

Mr Bayliss said: “Many local businesses, community groups and the Bury Chamber of Commerce are already involved and the community has been really supportive”.

He highlighted the many opportunities for local businesses to get involved, including helping with the fundraising effort.

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