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Blaby & Whetstone Youth Club

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Blaby & Whetstone Youth Club, Leicester

The regeneration of Blaby & Whetstone Boys Club in Leicester, renamed Blaby & Whetstone Youth Club, is well underway.

Works began in January this year and upon completion, scheduled for July 2014, the venue will have been substantially extended and the club will boast an additional all weather pitch.

The Blaby & Whetstone Boys Club, a registered charity, opened in the early 1960’s to provide young boys with an accessible space to participate in a range of sporting activities, and since then the venue has seen no major refurbishments. Premier Construction caught up with Brian Cleaver, Chairman of The Club, to find out more about the project:

“The charity wanted to focus on increasing female and disabled individuals participation in the club; and we couldn’t do that with the existing facilities we had. The club offers a plethora of football facilities but we also wanted to capitalise on the facilities we have for people who don’t want to play football, at least not competitively.

“We have got about 450 members on the youth club side and we are hoping to make the space a community hub which Whetstone badly needs to this end the club will be known as The Activity Centre. Hopefully upon completion we can use the venue in the day time so it is useful for those of all age’s not just youngsters.”

The Club applied for funding to carry out the project and managed to secure significant finances from The Football Foundation and Sport England. We were also supported by a number of charitable trusts in addition to the Parish, District and County Councils. The total value of the project comes to about £650,000 but it is estimated that the total budget may rise slightly. We are continuing to source funding opportunities to help ‘fit out’ our new building upon completion. We must also not forget our members who have raised around 10% of the total cost through their own efforts.

Blaby & Whetstone Youth Club, Leicester

Keyham Construction acted as the main contractor on the project with David Neill providing all of the architectural services. The single storey building has undergone many alterations during this project; so far the club’s youth area has trebled in size, four new changing rooms have been constructed, as have two new officials’ rooms. A disabled changing room, hospitality room, treatment room and three disabled fully accessible toilets have also been constructed, making the venue a much more flexible and accessible space.

Brian Cleaver commented:

“Before the venue was extended space was very tight; if there was an important football match the youths tended to lose out. Thanks to this extension that won’t happen anymore as the youths have a dedicated space which is theirs regardless of what else is scheduled.”

An all-weather pitch is being constructed to be used for non-football related activities, the space is ideal as it facilitates wheelchair users making the club much more inclusive. The space comprises a mobile skate park and is great for those wanting to try out taster netball and basketball sessions. The new pitch has been erected on the existing car park. Brian added:

“This project is really broadening the sporting activities we are able to offer. The project has been difficult operationally as we have had to keep the venue open but it has been very rewarding. I have been involved for 30 years with the charity and so it means a lot to me and the trustees; we identified five years ago that standing still was not an option with the current financial climate and so we decided we had to either move forward or gradually go into decline. To see the expansion happening now is terrific.”

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