IT was thanks to the vision of Philip ‘Froggy’ Hall, aided by his good friend Rich Weinhold, that the village came to have the wonderful facility that is Leafield Community Gym.
Froggy had long thought that the old sports pavilion, neglected and unused for at least six years, should be put to good use before it further deteriorated. And, realising that the space could be ideal for a gym, he set about seeking support to achieve his dream.
In mid-2013, posters went up asking for volunteers to form a committee and, happily, a handful of other locals came forward to help put Froggy and Rich’s plan into motion. That founding committee began the long slog of first getting permission from the Parish Council, preparing costings and a pricing structure, gathering quotes and then, vitally, attempting to raise the finance.
It was calculated that around £16,000 would be needed to make the gym become a reality. Various grant applications were sent out, while, the committee tried all kinds of ways to raise funds, ranging from a bric-a-brac stall at the Village Fete to running a sponsored marathon (chairman Nick Birtley ran the New York race to earn a four-figure sum in donations through Localgiving.com).
Slowly more and more interest was expressed in our ambitious project and the turning point came on August 14 th , 2014, when we heard that we had landed a £10,000 Awards For All grant from the Big Lottery Fund. A fantastic result. Other grants followed from Oxfordshire County Council’s Big Society Fund, West Oxfordshire District Council, Cottsway Housing Association and our own Parish Council.
We could now get cracking with the job in hand – extensive renovations to transform the dilapidated pavilion into a brand new gym. And for that we are particularly indebted to the various local trades people who offered their skills to help us.
The equipment was bought and in early November 2014 we were finally ready to open. The early take up of memberships was very encouraging and in January 2015 we knew we’d arrived when the then Prime Minister and our own MP, David Cameron, performed the opening ceremony. Membership levels soon exceeded the minimum 35 that we needed to guarantee success, and that quickly rose to 50+, which is still the case today.
Of course, we are a non-profit-making organisation and are keen to plough money back into the community with various grants to worthy local causes, particularly of a sporting or health-related nature (see our Community page). Another benefit is that, as we pay rent to the Parish Council, we are also contributing to the running of our village.
To all our current and past members we say a big thank-you for your support in helping us to provide Leafield with a facility of which we can feel extremely proud. So, if you are new to the area or have been thinking of joining a gym that’s right on your doorstep, why not come and have a look? You won’t be disappointed.