01:02PM, Tuesday 02 November 2021
Sir Mo Farah has spoken up in support of the Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow (WSEH) Athletics Club after they turned to Crowdfunder in an attempt to revive their finances and future.
The Eton-based sports club is struggling to fund its activities following the pandemic and are part of a shocking statistic that has seen 97 per cent of clubs across the country lose income because of recent COVID lockdowns and restrictions. Many face an uncertain future and possible closure.
WSEH AC is where the four-time Olympic gold medallist Mo Farah started his journey in athletics and current club members include Olympians Jessie Knight, Morgan Lake, Taylor Campbell and Paralympic javelin gold medallist Daniel Pembroke.
The club is looking to raise £20,000 for essential work on its facilities and they can also access match-funding of up to £10,000 from Sport England, money that’s been earmarked to help grassroots sports clubs bounce back from the pandemic. The fund is seen as a vital lifeline as COVID restrictions decimated club’s ticket sales, fees and venue rentals over a considerable period.
Sir Mo encouraged people to support the club if they can: “I am known for the success that I have achieved on the track, but my journey to the top was a long one and one that had lots of steps along the way. One of those steps was with Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow Athletics Club, and I am lucky that I was able to continue my progress with them.
“The club is now in need of funding to help maintain and improve their facilities which will allow them to continue to provide for the next generation of athletes. We want our young people to have every opportunity to succeed and so I would ask you to support them if you are able to.”
Irene Speller, a fundraiser at WSEH, added: “The club is over a century old. It is renowned for its success at all levels of the athletic spectrum - Sir Mo Farah spent his formative years here, developing his skills, whilst Tokyo 2021 Paralympic Javelin Gold Medallist, Daniel Pembroke and 2021 Team GB Olympians Jessie Knight, Morgan Lake and Taylor Campbell are all current members of the club.
“However, our club is not just for elite athletes – far from it. At our base at the Thames Valley Athletic Centre, we provide fun athletics to 7- to 10-year-olds, athletic development to those aged 10 upwards and we strive to make athletics accessible to everyone in our area through school and community projects.
“WSEH AC and TVAC lost major income during the lockdowns and the slow lift of restrictions. But we desperately need to make improvements to our facilities to ensure that everyone – Olympians and school children alike – have access to the quality and safe equipment and training.”
WSEH is just one of more than 72,000 sports clubs across England experiencing similar financial headaches. They are staffed by 4.6m volunteers and serve more than 11m athletes of all ages and abilities.