Welcome to the Norfolk Knights!

I’d like to begin this week’s blog by welcoming a new team into the family – the Norfolk Knights have just taken receipt of their new Roma chairs and have secured training sessions at Wymondham Leisure Centre starting on Saturday 11am on 5 August. It’s fantastic that we are now reaching out to East Anglia and providing opportunities to play in a new part of the country. We will be looking to support the Knights and help them get fully established and look forward to seeing them take part in future competitions.

And next it’s congratulations to Kirsty on her recent marriage to Holly I’m sure you will all join me in wishing them both a very happy life together. Kirsty returns to work on Monday and I know she will want to focus on ensuring we deliver against the Sport England plan. We are still looking for some new positions to fill and so do look at our vacant jobs page on the website if you are interested.

Since returning from Koblenz much of our focus has been on how we get the GB team to Sydney next year so that they can take part in the IWRF World Championships. It’s all about funding of course and not just funding for the championships themselves but also for a competitive programme leading up to the event. We know that we have to be playing the top teams in the world on a regular basis if we are to have any chance of medalling in a world event. I am still optimistic that we will find new partners and already Lucy Knight our Head of Fundraising has opened some very interesting doors. At this point I do not want to give too much away but we hope to have some more positive news on new partners later in the year. Our Just Giving fundraising has also continued to build and we have had a number of off-line donations which has taken the total to around £35k which is fantastic. I would like to say a particular thank you to our Chair, Kevin Aitchison as a large number of donations have been received from his contacts following an email he put out to literally hundreds of people! You will also have seen the piece on the website from Andy Kennedy who is raising funds for us. Watch his video – he is a strong guy! And if you can encourage others to support his fundraising efforts then all the better.  Good luck to Andy and our thanks to him and all of those who are raising funds to support the squad.

I am sure you will remember the letter I sent to the new Chair of UK Sport asking if UK Sport would fund us for the World Championships. Regrettably her response was fairly predictable ‘we do not consider one-off requests for investment’. However she has agreed to meet with me on 15 August so I will at least get an opportunity to put our case to her in person. I was also able to make a similar case at the Westminster Forum on 13 July. Hosted by the Rt Hon Lord Pendry and with a number of individuals from sport in the audience including, CEO UK Sport, CEO BOA, CEO BPA, DCMS, Baroness Tanni-Grey Thompson and representatives from the media, education, NGBs and business, I was able to put the case that funding should be about much more than medals and also that when it comes to inspiration there are few who could match some of our athletes. I have posted my address to the audience on the website for those of you who are interested in reading it. I also know that our Chair has met with the new Chair of Paralympics GB and they discussed our current situation and the BPA position which we are very disappointed with.

I am taking two weeks holiday starting on Monday so Kirsty will be deputising for me. I am sure that a number of you will also be taking some time off over the next few weeks. Thank you all for everything you do, especially our volunteers and those who on a daily basis work behind the scenes to ensure our clubs and programmes run as well as they do. Enjoy your holidays when they come and especially time with your families and friends and let’s all look forward to the start of a new Super Series season in the autumn.

David P