Loved and used by the local community, the Hereford athletics track has been awarded a grant of £220,000 from the Community Ownership Fund to contribute towards a full upgrade and renovation based at the local leisure centre. This fantastic contribution sees the fundraisers almost reach their target of £400,000 totalling £327,000 raised by the community so far.
We recently caught up with Ben Skinner, Secretary of the Hereford County Athletics Association and Hereford Couriers RC Secretary to find out more.
The centre of the athletics and running community
Like many athletics facilities around the country, the Hereford athletics track is the only one of its kind in the whole county.
“The track is used by many of the local affiliated track and field, road and triathlon clubs as well as playing host each year to the county and schools championships. The area is such a fantastic hub for sport with Halo Leisure also offering football and hockey pitches and skateboarding ramps with a brand-new cycle track to open next door to the new athletics track.”
The ‘Save Hereford’s Athletics Track’ Campaign
“The Hereford athletics track was needing a total resurface and was at risk of not being able to host events after the 2023 season due to its condition. As a County Association with the support of the member clubs we launched the ‘Save Hereford’s Athletics Track’ campaign initially with a Dawn ‘til Dusk Run in January with over 100 runners taking part, running anywhere from 1 to 40 miles.
“Shortly after, Hereford City Council pledged to support the campaign with a fantastic £70,000 contribution. Working with the facility operator, Halo Leisure, we have been able to host a number of fundraising activities and events.
"Our Athletics Masterclass series proved very popular with F13 Paralympic and World Champion javelin thrower, Dan Pembroke, Commonwealth gold medallist hammer thrower Lorraine Shaw and renowned High Jump coach, Deirdre Elmhirst all supporting our campaign. Through the support of the local athletics and running community, and a successful Crowdfunding, hit our first milestone of £100,000.
“After applying for the Community Ownership Fund, we were delighted to hear the news at the end of June that we had been successful and would be awarded an additional £220,000 taking our fundraising efforts over £300,000, closing in on our £400,000 target.”
Here’s the campaign video used to help the facility demonstrate exactly what the track means to the local community:
Support through the Facility Improvement Fund
As well as community-sourced funding, England Athletics have supported the various clubs who use the track with our Club Improvement Grant Scheme through the Facility Improvement Fund with a contribution of £5000. The grant scheme was set up to break down the barriers athletes and runners face and enable them to fulfil their potential within the sport. By helping to repair and keep facilities open, clubs are supported to provide a safe, sustainable and welcoming environment to their participants.
Benefiting the local community
With the fundraising target in sight, it is only a matter of time before work can start on the facility, as Ben explained.
“It is going to be a huge boost for the local athletics and running community. It is an exciting time and so many are looking forward to the new facility. Last year we had the Birmingham Commonwealth Games on our doorstep in Birmingham and the county has seen so many athletes go on to represent at regional and international level. We hope that the new home of track and field in Herefordshire will inspire the next generation of county athletes!”