An athletics club is moving home after suffering years of anti-social behaviour and vandalism.
Weymouth St Paul’s Harriers and Athletics Club is leaving its base at the Marsh with club chairman Tony Faulkner saying that broken glass and dog mess have left them little choice.
They will move to Budmouth College, which is already their venue for indoor winter training – and they’ve launched a Dorset Echo-backed fundraising campaign to raise £25,000 to upgrade the facilities so they’re at competition standard.
Mr Faulkner said the situation at the Marsh was ‘untenable’, and that it was a ‘difficult decision’ to move away.
He added: “We were finding broken glass and dog excrement in the long jumps, and we were suffering more incidences of anti-social behaviour from other users of the Marsh.”
The club is one of the oldest of its kind in the UK, with roots going back to the 1800s. New facilities, Mr Faulkner said, will help ensure the future of Weymouth St Paul’s Harriers for generations. “At the moment our kids are turning up and they have to practise on grass, but when they go to county meetings they are competing against kids who are confident on rubber, who have had the chance to practise on that surface. It does make a difference.”
One club member, Susan O’Flanagan, is taking on not only the London Marathon but also the North Dorset Marathon just a week later in aid of the appeal. Susan said: “The adult road runners of WSPH have coached, supported and kept me running for over 10 years. This is my way of giving something back.”
More than £2,000 has been pledged already on the club’s Crowdfunder page but more is needed, and former members are being encouraged to remember the fun they had competing for the club and dig deep.
The primary focus of the initial £25,000 is the long jump and a further £25,000 will enable the club to add a permanent high jump take off area and javelin run up.
Weymouth and Portland Borough Council is providing storage containers for the club to move their equipment to and Dorset County Council has pledged to help if the club reaches 25 per cent of its target.
To donate, visit crowdfunder. co.uk/weymouth-st-pauls-harriers-long-jump. Cheques payable to WSPH can also be sent to: WSPH, c/o 9 Church View, Stratton, Dorchester, DT2 9WD