Own-home dream set to come true for North Walsham Gymnastics Club

North Walsham Gymnastics Club members and coaches. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

North Walsham Gymnastics Club members and coaches. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

A decade-long dream is poised to come true for hundreds of young gymnasts and their coaches.

North Walsham Gymnastics Club believes it has at last found its own home and hopes it can move in next year.

It is appealing for sponsors to help buy equipment and fit out the new building and has already received £12,000-worth of support for its Dream, Believe, Achieve project.

If successful, the move would mean no more two-year waiting lists for places at the highly-popular club, extra training hours for top gymnasts, more and better equipment, and the chance to offer extra sessions, including a separate one for would-be gymnasts with disabilities.

Alexis Thurston, club director and head coach, said the new venue was a 7,750 sq ft unit, part of a bigger building being built on Cornish Way, part of North Walsham industrial estate.

They hoped to lease it from owner Drury's Transport, which is based on the industrial estate.

'We have waited so long for this that I start shaking when I think about it.' said Mrs Thurston, 34.

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The club has been based at North Walsham Sports Centre since it was founded by Mrs Thurston 14 years ago.

But, after just four years, it became clear that demand for places meant they needed their own premises.

Over the past 10 years club chiefs have identified four possible new bases, but each has come to nothing.

Meanwhile some 200 children, aged three to 15, who have registered an interest in joining the club face a two-year wait for places as it is already full, with about 140 members.

While most are from North Walsham, others come from all over north Norfolk, and as far afield as Norwich.

Mrs Thurston said they used the sports centre six days a week but were restricted in their hours because of other centre users.

While some clubs could offer talented gymnasts 18 hours a week training, the North Walsham club could only provide eight hours. And while other clubs had three bars, North Walsham only had one, which meant gymnasts had to wait to use it.

Despite this, North Walsham members regularly somersaulted off with medals at competitions and the club boasted six gymnasts in the county squad, two county champions and a former regional champion.

'However, we have a few girls who are ready to move to national level and it's very difficult to coach them with the hours and equipment we have,' said Mrs Thurston.

Limited hours meant it was also difficult to retain coaches who were often looking for full-time jobs.

She added that their hoped-for new home would involve a lot of hard work and expense, especially in the first year.

Just installing a sprung floor would cost £14,000.

So far the project has received a £1,000 donation from Persimmon Housing, £2,000 from Victory Housing Trust and £9,248 from North Norfolk District Council's Big Society Fund.

'This is a very big step forward for the club and for the community,' said Mrs Thurston.

Anyone who would like to sponsor the club can contact Mrs Thurston via www.north-walsham-gymnastics-club.co.uk