Popular Saffron Walden sports club could shut down if Walden School closure goes ahead

PUBLISHED: 08:55 20 June 2017 | UPDATED: 08:55 20 June 2017

Walden School has been saved from closure just days before it was due to shut. Picture: SAFFRON PHOTO

Walden School has been saved from closure just days before it was due to shut. Picture: SAFFRON PHOTO

Archant

A popular Saffron Walden sports club could be forced to shut down if the threatened closure of Walden School and its facilities goes ahead.

WaldenJNR, which was set up in 2009, is the junior equivalent of the town’s athletic group WaldenTRI, and uses the school’s facilities to train its five groups of budding sport talent.

But with the imminent threat of Walden School closing down at the end of the summer term on July 7, the club is running out of time to find a replacement venue – a problem which could affect more than 160 children.

Geoff Jones, head coach and a founder member, said: “Sadly, with the likely closure of the school and loss of the sports facilities, we have nowhere else to train.

“The pool is a vital part of our skills training and without it and the adjoining playing fields we will lose our cohesiveness and the important social element from all the children being able to train together on a single site.

“We have experienced so much success, turning youngsters into swimmers, cyclists and runners and generally building their confidence and leadership skills.”

So popular is the club that it has a waiting list of 150 youngsters, reportedly making it the largest junior triathlon club in England.

The group has also seen plenty of famous faces pass through its tuition, including 21-year-old British paratriathlon squad member, George Peasgood and medallists Charlie Passfield and Peter Cooke.

According to WaldenJNR, the closure of the school will affect other community groups including Saffron Seals and SAS Swimming, which also use the site’s pool.

Steve Kidman, from SAS Swimming, said: “We rely heavily on the Walden School pool to teach young children to swim, a vital life skill. We have 200 pupils some who cannot get enough swim time at primary school and many who are keen to improve their swim capability and confidence with more time in the water. The loss of the Walden School pool is a major blow and as there is no alternative pool capacity, we will struggle to keep SAS going and many children from the town and villages will lose out.”

Derek Jones, chair of Saffron Walden Organisation for sport, has called on the district and town council for change.

He said: “The warning signs have been around for quite a while, the loss of the Walden School pool exacerbates a problem that had already been identified, it is no good relying on long term housing development to seek a solution, and we need councillors to start identifying a creative solution to this problem now.”

To sign the petition for a new swimming pool, visit 38degrees.org.uk/petitions/wallace-and-walden-need-another-swimming-pool.

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