Olympic Swimming legend Sharron Davies and the Department for Education have added their words of support to the campaign to save outdoor education at South Cerney, near Cirencester.
And the bid by members of the local community, who came together as the Lake 12 Partnership to take over the running of South Cerney Outdoor Education Centre, is stepping up a gear with the creation of a charity to spearhead a major fundraising push.
The celebrity support and establishment of a new charity comes after the announcement earlier this year that Gloucestershire County Council wants to remove its funding from the much-loved community facility, known as SCOEC, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, and look to market the site.
Four other outdoor education sites in Gloucestershire, including the Wilderness Centre near Lydney, have already been designated for closure and to sale to the highest bidder on the open market. But after a campaign to save outdoor education at South Cerney’s Lake 12 gathered pace, an announcement was made to market the SCOEC site as a going concern.
Olympic swimmer and local resident, Sharron Davies MBE, has lent her weigth to the fight to save the SCOEC site.
“I was saddened to hear about the possible closure and sale of the local Outdoor Education Centre at Water Park Lake 12,” she said. “This is a great and unique resource for health and fitness for local kids and community groups of all kinds, as well as helping many disadvantaged groups.
“So now that the community have organised themselves into the ‘Lake 12 Partnership’ and are fighting to save this valuable asset for all to use, I wholeheartedly support their ongoing efforts.”
And in a letter from the Department for Education, it said: “We would like to wish the Lake 12 Partnership success with their proposals as we consider that learning outside the classroom is an important element of national curriculum.”
The Lake 12 Partnership is being supported by a large number of community groups, users of the Lake 12 facilities, parish councils, schools and colleges and concerned individuals. A great deal of work from members of Thameswey Canoe Club, the Cirencester Dolphin Sub-Aqua Club, the Navy Training Corps, Disabled Sailing Association and Gloucestershire Scouts among others to put together a business plan and set up the Lake 12 charity to co-ordinate the fund raising effort.
South Cerney Outdoor Education Centre is now taking bookings again until December 31st, after the original cut-off date of August was moved forward in order to maintain the facility as a going concern, ahead of any handover deal.
While there are no details yet of the tender process or what the costs could be as yet from Gloucestershire County Council, the Lake 12 Partnership is now looking for support to build a fighting fund to keep Lake 12 as a community facility.
Assisting the campaign is fundraising expert Chris Roberts, who was awarded an MBE for her services to fundraising.
For further information, contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The postal contact address is Lake 12 Partnership, c/o Clanfield House, Market Square, Bampton, Oxfordshire, OX18 2JJ.