Bowthorpe community get �4,000 grant to bring families together

Two friends have joined forces to start a project in the Bowthorpe area, which helps build confidence, forge friendships and improve fitness. ROSA MCMAHON finds out how a �4,000 grant will benefit the community initiative.

Beverley Rushbrook and Julieann Challen, 31, have a lot in common. They are the same age, trained child-minders, mothers and, thanks to their community spirit, they now run the new Funky Fitness sessions at Clover Hill Village Hall

Mrs Rushbrook, from Bowthorpe, said since having her three children she realised there was nowhere affordable to take them to be both active and sociable. She said: 'It dawned on me that the only place where all ages come together to dance, get fit, improve confidence and build friendships is on holiday – there is definitely nowhere in Norwich to do that.'

So, Mrs Rushbrook and Mrs Challen decided to start Funky Fitness – a grassroots project, run by local people to benefit the community.

The duo received �4,000 from Norfolk County Council's Living Well in the Community Fund. This is a grant for local groups and organisations, which helps them to develop and provide activities to improve the quality of life for people living in the area. Then the pair set about launching their weekly sessions, with the help of volunteers.

Mrs Rushbrook said the volunteers were well-known in the community and will work to develop peer mentoring at the group. Each Tuesday, the group will meet from 10-11.30am at the village hall on Humbleyard, Clover Hill. As well as fitness sessions and appearances from the group's mascot, Charlie the Chimp, help will be available from professionals in the community to talk about a host of issues affecting families.

The Sheriff of Norwich, John Jennings, praised the project.

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He said: 'I think community is so important, and if people can come together for health, friendship and social care, then that's brilliant.'

Mum-of-two Michelle McKinney, 33, from Horsford, said she used to live in Bowthorpe but wanted to come back to the group on Tuesday mornings.

She said: 'We can go along to meet new people and get a bit fit at the same time.'

For more information call Beverley on 07747 667540.

Are you involved in starting a community project? Call reporter Rosa McMahon on 01603 772439 or email

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