Games springboard for forum idea

First published in Local news Wharfedale Observer: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

Sports clubs will meet in Otley next week to discuss using the area’s stunning Olympics legacy as a springboard to join forces.

The event, which is open to all local sporting organisations and could lead to the founding of an Otley sports forum, is the brainchild of Marjorie Dunn, the grandmother of silver medal-winning cyclist Lizzie Armitstead.

The idea is to gauge support for a collective sports body that could drive forward major projects – like Otley Athletic Club’s recently announced plans to build Wharfe-dale’s first ever running track – more effectively than as individual groups.

The meeting will be hosted by Otley Town Partnership at 1A Mercury Row at 6.30pm on Monday. And chairman, Peter Heald, said the timing – following the clutch of Olympic medals local athletes have won – was ideal.

He added: "We’re very happy to get involved with this.

“With the Olympics and Paraly-mpics having just finished, and the success of Lizzie and others, this is a great time to sound this out.

“Marjorie had contacted a lot of sports groups when we were developing the Community Led Plan, and what came out of that was there wasn’t really any forum for all these sports groups.

“We were amazed at how many people are involved in sports in all kinds of ways, so we thought it would be good to see if there’s any appetite for having a sports forum for Otley to discuss aspirations, like the running track.

“Sometimes, projects are a lot for one club to take on and finance on their own, but as a collective, we could achieve more and share resources, especially in cases where a facility would benefit many different groups.”

Mrs Dunn said: "I never realised when I started doing the work for the plan that my granddaughter was going to win a silver medal at the Olympics.

"So there's never been a better time to try this, and Lizzie's perfectly happy to get behind it because she's so keen to see local kids getting active."

Representatives at the meeting will report back to their clubs before any decision is made on whether or not to proceed with the scheme.

The area had a particularly successful Olympics and Paralympics. As well as Lizzie's silver medal, Bramhope brothers Alistair and Jonny Brownlee took gold and bronze, respectively, in the triathlon while Paralympic cyclist David Stone, of Rawdon, won a gold and bronze.

*MP Greg Mulholland (Lib Dem, Leeds North West) is proposing that a series of "be inspired, get involved" sports fairs be held across his constituency to help anyone inspired by the Games to get active.

Naming Yeadon Town Hall and Otley Rugby Club as possible venues, Mr Mulholland is writing to all local sports clubs, and parish and town councils, asking them to back the initiative.

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