Four community projects in Weymouth and Portland are to share £58,500 in council grants.

The top award, of £25,000, will go to the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation towards a new sailing base at the national sailing academy on Portland.

The Friends of Castle Cove Beach get £20,000 to help with the cost of new steps to resume safe public access to the sands. The beach became inaccessible after a landslip several years ago.

Sutton Poyntz Society will spend its £6,500 on a pond restoration while £7,000 will pay for new murals in three of Weymouth’s underpasses by the Let’s Make It Community Group.

The Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation has been operating at the Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy since 2014 and provides affordable sailing opportunities for young people. It also offers sessions for disabled sailors in partnership with the Chesil Trust. Each year, approximately 1,500 young people take part in the Rob Shipley Sail for £5 programme offered by the Foundation.

It is now planning a bespoke clubhouse with disabled access and indoor training facilities estimated to cost £187,147. To date £162,150 had been raised – including a grant of £50,000 from Sport England. The council grant means that the target has been reached and work can start.

Boost for beach

The Friends of Castle Cove Beach treasurer, Val Groves, welcomed the grant which she says will mean that, together with the £10,000 the group has already raised, work on the steps will now go ahead in the coming months.

“This is the most fantastic news for Weymouth,” said Val, “It’s a real tribute to the community spirit which has grown up around these steps, and we are very grateful to the councillors from all parties who have supported this campaign.”

The charity has been crowdfunding since it got planning permission for the steps and signed a 99-year lease in June. “Everybody has been incredibly generous,” said Val. “90 people have donated to our appeal at, or have been pushing cheques through our letterboxes.”

The £30,000 raised to date means the charity will commission the steps later in the year.

”We will continue raising money, to pay for ongoing repairs and insurance.” said Val,

”The next tasks are to choose the contractor and to liaise with the County Council and the landowners about the timetable for construction. There is still a lot to do and as a charity we need to make sure we get things done in the right way.”

“It’s been a long road – our campaign has been running for the last four years,” said Val. ” but our supporters kept us going. They are the most amazing people.”

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