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NE REGION WIN PRIME MINISTER

23rd August 2013

SOURCE: 1O DOWNING STREET

Fencing North East wins Prime Minister’s Big Society Award

An organisation which supports Fencing clubs across the North East has been recognised by Prime Minister David Cameron with a Big Society Award.

Fencing North East has provided opportunities for young people in Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, Durham, Cumbria and Teesside who have gone on to compete at National, European, and Paralympic levels.  It has trained 69 unemployed young people as ‘Go Fence’ leaders, who have in turn introduced over 800 people from their communities to Fencing.  Inspired by the 2012 Olympics, and supported by its successful partnership approach and dedicated volunteers, the group hopes to take 10 leaders to Rio during the 2016 Olympics.

Fencing North East was set up in 2008 in partnership with the universities of Durham and Northumbria. It has 40 regular volunteers who give over 200 hours of their time each year.

Since 2008, the organisation has:

• introduced 2,500 under 16s in the North East to fencing through working with schools, scouts, colleges and local authorities, specifically targeting young people from less well off areas

• increased participation in wheelchair fencing with 12 regular wheelchair fencers through the region

• worked with 13 clubs in the region to offer training and development for coaches, fencers, volunteers and officials

• created the first ever Regional Development Officer for fencing to introduce over 5000 people to fencing and train 100 coaches and over 50 volunteers. 

Prime Minister David Cameron said;  "Fencing North East has had a real impact across the North East, inspiring young people to take up a new sport and helping them gain confidence, skills and even qualifications.

"I’m delighted to be recognising the achievements of everyone who volunteers, coaches and takes part with this Big Society Award."

Marie Matheson, Chair, Fencing North East, said; "I'm very proud of my involvement with Fencing North East, and have found working with all of our volunteers and participants inspirational on so many levels.  I'm delighted that the hard work and creativity of our volunteers has been recognised with a Big Society Award from the Prime Minister."

Peter King, Chief Executive of British Fencing added; "The outstanding work carried out by Beth Davidson and her team has been recognised at the highest possible level and my personal congratulations go to all involved.  One of British Fencing's key priorities is to increase participation in the sport at all levels and Beth is leading the charge in that respect.  The work she is carrying out is a great example for all to follow."

Fencing North East’s ‘Street Swords’ project was created in 2011 in partnership with the Princes Trust.  It specifically targets disengaged young people aged 8 and over from deprived areas and provides bursaries to ensure cost does not prevent young people from taking part.  Street Swords participants have gone on to referee and coaching courses, including the level 1 coaching qualification. The project was awarded the Inspire Mark for inspiring the Olympic ethos and has secured funding from Sport England, the Co-operative Foundation, Darlington Borough Council Sport Development and support from Durham University and Northumbria University to develop the project and share their work nationwide and internationally. 

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