YEARS of vandalism and anti-social behaviour have driven a Weymouth athletics club away from the town’s Marsh Playing Fields.
“Our situation was untenable” said club chairman Tony Faulkner, “We were finding broken glass and dog excrement in the long jumps, dog walkers were not responsibly exercising their animals, and we were suffering more incidences of anti-social behaviour from other users of the Marsh.”
Weymouth St Paul’s Harriers and Athletics Club is now raising money to upgrade its facilities at its new training venue. The club and its committee say it was a difficult decision to move away after being based at the centre for many years.
The club is moving to Budmouth College, already their venue for indoor winter training.
“It makes sense,” said Coaching Co-ordinator Tracy Moore.
“We will now have all our equipment in the same venue and we can work on building a safe and secure future for the club.”
Weymouth and Portland Borough Council is providing storage containers for the club to move their equipment to, but the Harriers are now raising money to upgrade the school facilities.
The primary focus is the long jump. It will cost £25,000 to upgrade the existing facility to competition standard.
“It is important that our athletes practice on the kind of pit they will encounter when we go to area and league competitions. A further £25,000 will enable us to add a permanent high jump take off area, and javelin run up,” said Tracy.
The club is now running a crowdfunder campaign www.crowdfunder.co.uk/weymouth-st-pauls-harriers-long-jump to try and raise the long jump refurbishment costs.
The club is encouraging former members to remember the fun they had competing for the club and dig deep to secure its future. Any local businesses wanted to pledge more than £100 will secure advertising space on the club’s website and social media pages.
More than £2,000 has been pledged already, including an anonymous donor who donated £1,250, but the club says that, as every pound counts, small donations are just as welcome as the larger ones.
One of the club’s members, Susan O’Flanagan is running the London Marathon and the North Dorset Marathon with only a week gap between them to help boost the appeal. Her supporters are supporting the Long Jump appeal.
The fundraising drive finishes at the end of April.