Chippenham club’s big dreams for a £1.6m base

This Is Wiltshire: Chippenham Moonrakers Gymnastics owner Steven West with young gymnasts Oriana Powell, Jenny Francklin, Carys Jones, Seth Russell, Amber Nixon, Hermione Powell and Lauren Searle Chippenham Moonrakers Gymnastics owner Steven West with young gymnasts Oriana Powell, Jenny Francklin, Carys Jones, Seth Russell, Amber Nixon, Hermione Powell and Lauren Searle

A gymnastics club in Chippenham has big dreams of fundraising £1.6 million for a state-of-the-art centre to provide places for 300 people currently on its waiting list.

Chippenham Moonraker Gymnastics was set up by Steven West three years ago to provide gymnastics classes for children from the age of four up to adults.

The club, which runs a minimum of three different sessions five days a week, is based at The Olympiad, but the centre cannot provide time for any more sessions.

Mr West said the club already has 300 members and now has plans to buy a plot of land in the town centre where a new building can go.

He said: “Unfortunately The Olympiad is unable to give more hours because it’s a multi-functional facility.

“We have a fantastic base where we are in Chippenham.

“It’s a fully-equipped gym that we’re trying to get, one with function rooms and toilets. The equipment will be about £120,000 alone.

“We will be looking at bleachers for 120 to 150 people and a coffee shop. The plans are endless.

“Our dream is getting bigger every day because the club is getting bigger every day.

“Three years ago we were looking at getting out own premises and we were looking at £250,000. Now we’re looking at £1.6 million for a piece of land and a building.

“Chippenham is an up and coming town and land is at a premium. It’s not a case of if, it’s when.”

To raise the money, the club plans to apply for grants from Sport England and The Heritage Lottery Fund, as well as community landfill schemes.

Parents and youngsters have planned a number of challenges, including cycling to Cheddar Gorge, holding cake sales and completing sponsored walks.

They are already used to fundraising, and after starting off at The Olympiad with three roll mats and one beam they now have a full-sized floor, a table vault and several mats.

Mr West, who employs seven members of staff, runs the club with his wife Sue and his daughter Hannah, who started training at the Swindon School of Gymnastics.

Mr West said: “My daughter started gymnastics at the age of five and I was pulled into the club as a coach.

“I never imagined it would get so big.

“We’re competing against clubs that have their own premises and we’re keeping up with them.

“We just had a competition two weeks ago and we came away with 25 medals.

“We see the club being a big club itself and possibly holding quite high-level national competitions.”

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