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Fence Cornwall has won the 2009 BBC Power of Sport Award for the South West

Fence Cornwall SW winner of BBC Power of Sport award

The first winners of the 2009 BBC Power of Sport Awards, supported by Sport England, have been announced... and Fence Cornwall is celebrating its success as one of them!

The awards recognise real projects, and the people behind them, that have used the power of sport to make a real difference in their community and change people’s lives for the better.

Sport England is supporting the BBC Power of Sport Awards because they celebrate sustainable projects that have increased the number of people taking part as well and also tackling some of the big challenges facing grassroots sport.

Fence Cornwall has brought new sporting opportunities to over 6000 young people in the South West by giving them the opportunity to try a new, non-mainstream sport, delivering hundreds of hours of free coaching and taster sessions and setting up nearly 20 after school clubs. Thanks to the project, thousands of children have experienced the fun of fencing and plans are already underway to develop Cornwall’s first disabled fencing club.

It is a community outreach sports project developed by Truro Fencing Club which began in September 2007.

The project offers free fencing taster sessions to primary and secondary schools in Cornwall.  Subsequently Fence Cornwall establishes fencing clubs and sessions in schools who have taken advantage of these tasters.  The project aims to take high quality and low cost sporting activity to communities who may not normally access such minority sports.  Ultimately this will result in increased participation in sport across Cornwall.

Jon Salfield, the Project Manager, believes that fencing can appeal to children and young people who are not interested in main-stream sports. The opportunity to take part in fencing has encouraged many non-active children to get fitter and lead healthier lives. There are now over 600 children fencing in school clubs every week in Cornwall.

Fence Cornwall has taken the sport to many isolated rural communities and some of the smallest schools in the UK, and since the project started in September 2007, 450 coaching hours have been delivered free of charge.  This has provided fencing opportunities to 6,000 children across Cornwall and as a result of the school club activities Truro Fencing Club’s active junior section now has more than 50% female membership.

During the last year Fence Cornwall has delivered over 150 free taster sessions in Cornish schools reaching more than 2,000 children.  Their response to these sessions has resulted in 16 new after school clubs being established.  Redruth Community College now has Fencing as part of their PE curriculum.  From established school clubs more than 30 children have gone on to train at Truro Fencing Club and take part in youth competitions.

Josiah Haslam, a 14 year old from Helston, joined an after-school fencing club which was set up at his school two years ago. He then went onto to join the new community fencing club in the town, where he trains regularly. Most recently he represented the club at the British Championships, where he won matches in the under 17 category.

Two years ago there were no Cornish schools competitions for young Fencers.  In July 2009 the second Cornwall Schools Championships hosted 28 teams of fencers from Cornish schools with over 100 children competing in a fun and exciting environment for four different titles - the event subsequently led England Fencing to take the model of Fence Cornwall and begin planning to roll out similar projects nationwide.

In 2009/10 Fence Cornwall will bring two new coaches in to work on the project and plan to offer a further 100 taster sessions creating 10 new school clubs serving up to 200 young people.

Future plans include founding Cornwall’s first disabled fencing club under the leadership of a Paralympic level coach.  This will only be the second disabled fencing club in the South West.  However, the single largest development for the future is the plan to build a dedicated fencing centre in Cornwall which will be the focal point of all the activity within the County.  The centre will also be a national training facility for fencers, coaches and referees to international level.

For more information please visit their website: http://www.trurofencing.co.uk