The inaugural Haslemere Festival of Sport took place on Bank Holiday Monday with glorious summer weather and about 700 people enjoying 18 different sports and activities over the course of a splendid afternoon.
With all the excitement of the Rio Olympics in the air, the theme was Pick up and Play – an open invitation for everyone to try a new sport, see if they like it and then join one of the local clubs. Swallows Trampoline Club was one of the busiest with two trampoline beds constantly on the go. ‘We were inundated with people wanting to bounce and have had a lot of enquires already’ reports Lynn Joyce, Club Secretary. Haslemere Hockey Club Chairman Isobel O’Neil also reported ‘ we had a constant stream of people, mainly children wanting to play hockey and wanting to join the Club’.
Also showcasing their sports on the two astro pitches were Haslemere Tennis Club, Haslemere Town Football Club, Grayshott Cricket Club, Haslemere Rugby Club and Haslemere Bowls Club, all reporting great levels of interest and many potential new members. It was a particular delight to see young children and teenagers trying out bowls. One of the star attractions was Haslemere Sub Aqua Club who had brought along a Rib boat for children to clamber over and they were then shown how to work a demand valve before dunking their heads into a tank of water. VC Godalming and Haslemere Cycling Club had several static racing bikes which had many dads drooling over.
Inside in the Edge Leisure complex, Haslemere Hurricanes Netball club was very busy and the coaches at Edge Badminton Club reported great interest in this demanding and skillful sport. Fernhurst Table Tennis Club had brought along a number of their young star players to showcase their sport and Paul Beech was showing off his Martial Arts. There were also two dance schools to enjoy – Hilary Marston School of Ballet and Haslemere Performing Arts. Yoga and Pilates lessons in the Dance studio also proved very popular.
Jeremy Hunt and his young family were to be seen trying out a number of different sports and the Haslemere Mayor, Sahran Abeysundara wore both his chain of office and trainers as he went around the various activities. The Festival of Sport would like to thank Haslemere Town Council The Sports Locker, Grayshott Parish Council, Places for People and Waverley Borough Council for all their support with this new sporting event.
It is possible to host such a Festival because of the wonderful facilities at Woolmer Hill Sports Centre. Two astro pitches, three football pitches, four rugby pitches, an athletics track, a modern Pavilion and an indoor leisure centre (The Edge) with a large hall, a dance studio and a fitness suite – all on the one site and in beautiful surroundings. These are unrivalled facilities in Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire and it is fantastic to see so many people enjoying a sport or activity at Woolmer Hill and hopefully joining one of the many clubs in the local area with their great facilities. Haslemere Tennis Club and Grayshott Cricket Club also have particularly good facilities and one of the roles of Sport Haslemere is to try and help improve other grounds and facilities in the local area which may need some money spending on them.
To add interest to the wonderful afternoon, Brian Howard had brought together a lovely collection of vintage cars for people to enjoy and the Smoothie Bike provided endless entertainment for those wanting to produce their own Smoothie to drink. Faith and Darren Woodger provided some excellent food, drink and a BBQ for everyone to enjoy and Matt Evans and his wonderful Team from The Edge made the day all possible, setting up all the facilities. Hamish Donaldson from the Haslemere Festival brought all his expertise and marketing skills to help make the day such a success.
To coincide with this Festival is a National campaign called ‘I am Team GB’. This is to thank National Lottery customers for buying their tickets, so that we all feel part of the Team. The National Lottery being the primary source of funding for all our wonderful GB athletes.
So this was a true festival of sport, which was enjoyed by so many and to be repeated and enlarged with more local clubs and more attractions in future years. Sport for All is a great motto and with the Paralympics soon to be on our televisions, there is a fantastic opportunity to ensure we encompass all levels of ability and an even wider spectrum of sports and activities. Sport is fun, sport is social and sport helps to keep us healthy.