A group of young Teesside gymnasts are turning somersaults after winning a four-figure equipment grant through their local Newcastle Building Society branch.
Stainsby School of Gymnastics in Stockton has over 400 members aged between three and 18 years old who are drawn from right across Teesside, and specialises in sports acrobatics and tumbling.
It has produced a number of medallists at regional and national championships in both able-bodied and disability competition categories, and was one of the first clubs in the country to achieve British Gymnastics’ GymMark accreditation in recognition of being a safe, effective and child-friendly club.
After being nominated by Hilary Atkinson, the grandmother of one of the gymnasts and a customer at Newcastle Building Society’s Linthorpe Road branch in Middlesbrough, a £2,908 grant has been given by the Society to enable the Club to buy pads for use around the gym’s 25m competition track, fast track, practice tracks and trampoline.
The mats are designed to reduce the risk of training injuries and give gymnasts greater confidence as they try out and perfect new and more difficult moves.
The funding has been provided by the Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the Community Foundation, which has been set up to provide grants to charities and community groups that are located in or around the communities served by the Society’s branch network, and put forward for support by its customers.
Founded in 1990, Stainsby School of Gymnastics has a team of 12 highly-qualified coaches who lead a wide range of classes every night of the week, and its purpose-built facility on Limeoak Way in Stockton is also made available for use by local schools.
Jayne Bennison, chair of the Club’s fundraising group, says: “Sports acrobatics and tumbling naturally comes with a degree of risk attached and we try to minimise this to create the safest possible environment in which our gymnasts can learn and develop new skills.
“Our members build up a lot of speed as they travel along our different tracks, especially those who are competing at elite level, so having suitable safety mats in place is absolutely essential.
“The parents’ fundraising group does a huge amount of hard work to bring in the money we need to meet the Club’s running costs, but with specialist equipment obviously being expensive, donations such as this one from Newcastle Building Society make a big difference to what we can offer.”
Since its launch in 2016, Newcastle Building Society’s Community Fund has contributed over £200,000 in grants to projects across the Society’s North East and Cumbria heartland, and is so far estimated to have had a positive impact on more than 97,000 people.
Grant applications for a maximum of £3,000 can be made in any Society branch or via the newcastle.co.uk website by customers who wish to support their local communities. There are larger grants of up to £50,000 also available to assist groups in improving or maintaining community buildings.
Kimberley Saunders, manager at Newcastle Building Society’s Middlesbrough branch, adds: “The Stainsby gymnasts’ skills are quite amazing and the school is a terrific example of everything that a community sports club should be.
“Giving direct support to the communities in which we’re based is central to the way in which the Society works, and we hope the new equipment encourages the Stainsby gymnasts to reach even greater heights!”
The Newcastle Building Society Community Fund is run in association with the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.