Outcry over sudden closure of sports club

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The heart of a community has been ripped out after our much-loved sports club was closed down without any notice.

That’s the message from members of Rishworth Sports Club, who say they are bereft and devastated at the decision.

The club, based at Rishworth School, was closed by the school on April 7 and members say there was no consultation or warning to club staff, members or other users and no explanation for the closure was offered.

Now an online petition has been set up, signed by more than 200 people, urging the school to reconsider its decision.

It says: “For the past nine years, the facilities have been used by the local community, prior to this the pool was used by many members of the community for some 30 years.

“Over 500 members swam, many daily, and others used the gym. The club provided a safe environment for members, some of whom are elderly, vulnerable and disabled.

“This closure has ripped the heart out of the local community, who have now lost a valuable, well-used facility.

“Please give us our club back and help make a difference to the lives of local people.”

Gail Herring, who started the petition, said: “Our message is let’s work together to reconsider the decision, we just want it reopening, or to see if we can work something out.

“It has left us devastated - we want an explanation and want to find a way forward so we can get it back into the community.”

A number of comments have been left in support of the petition, but Rishworth School is refusing to budge on its decision.

A statement from the school said: “Although the school fully understands the disappointment of members following the closure of the Sports Club to private members, a review of the sports club concluded that it was simply not viable to continue to operate it as it had been run.

“The school is conscious of its standing in the local community, hence the decision that the sports club remains available for private use by groups such as primary schools and other community organisations.”

Despite the upheaval, there has been a silver lining for one group. Judy Jackson and Nikki Goldthorpe were employed by the club as swimming teachers, but were made redundant when it closed. Around 100 children were left without swimming lessons and there was a huge demand from parents and children for the lessons to continue.

The outpouring of support spurred them on to approach the school bursar about the possibility of reopening the lessons, who Judy says supported the venture in recognition of the importance of swimming tuition.

Nikki and Judy have teamed up with a third partner, Andrew Duckworth, and lessons will now be continued on Thursday as a private club called Duck2Water Swim School.

Judy said: “The closure of this club affected a whole community. The parents and children were distraught. These communities have come together to make these lessons possible and they are to be applauded.”

View the petition at www.ipetitions.com/petition/re-open-rishworth-sportsclub