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Under-threat Deanes is not out for the holidays
5:00pm Friday 16th August 2013 in News
SCHOOL may be out for summer for most children, but for staff at the Deanes School, the hard work continues.
The halls may be quieter, but at the Deanes Sports Centre it’s business as usual for another hectic summer.
Despite being under threat of closure from Essex County Council, hundreds of sports enthusiasts have been flocking to the facility in Daws Heath Road, Thundersley, to stay active over the holidays.
Catering for about 150 youngsters a day, the school has been running a series of holiday camps where experienced coaches encourage children to take up sports such as athletics, badminton, trampolining and tennis.
Additional training camps have been set up for gifted and talented youngsters from the 48 primary schools across Castle Point and Rochford to learn dance and gymnastics.
Aspiring youngsters wanting to break into professional sports coaching have also been able to benefit from the school’s leadership academy with the chance to study for recognised qualifications.
Steve Bish, partnership development manager for the Castle Point and Rochford School Sports Partnership at the school, said: “The school term may be over, but there’s always such a huge amount going on here.
“I went into Deanes on Sunday to use the gym and on just a typical Sunday, 200-plus people were taking part in an adult football competition, there was a badminton club in the sports hall, a junior tennis tournament, dance classes and outside, road safety training for motorcyclists.
“That’s just a taste of what we do here.
“It’s the school that never sleeps. From 7.30am until 10.30pm there is a constant flow of people coming through our doors to keep fit and stay healthy which is what we’re all about.
“It’s about looking after the community and making sure people participate in sport, not just while they are young, but throughout their lifetime.
“It’s such a shame to think this might all be gone if we were to close.
“I don’t think the county council realises just how much we do for the area, not just during term time, but throughout the whole year.”
The school has also been running a family health and sport week to inspire families in the borough to enjoy sport and a healthy lifestyle.
This is all in addition to the centre’s 3,900 members who use its facilities on a day-to-day basis.
Colin Henwood, chairman of Benfleet Villa Football Club, has been using the school for the past 25 years to host events for some 250 footballers, young and old.
He said: “We started using the school before it had its sports centre. We use it for about 20 teams now, for children and seniors, boys and girls and whenever we’re there, it’s always extremely busy.
“We’re so fortunate to have this facility, because not a lot of other schools have the kinds of provisions they do or have the capacity to let community groups use them.
“It’s so widely used by all sorts of people and as a club we would really really miss it if it closed.”
With such a constant influx of users, and the prospect of a £23million rebuild still hanging in the balance, it is no secret the Seventies-built school is looking run down.
But thankfully, the community is at hand to provide the care the building needs, to bring it up to scratch ahead of the new school year.
During the summer break volunteers have been spending hours painting walls and fixing roofs to breathe some new life into the school.
Mr Bish said: “It just shows the level of commitment we have from the community and staff for them to come in and do this to help make the school better.
“We’ve suffered from a serious lack of investment over the past few years while waiting for the rebuild, so we just do whatever we can, when we can, to make improvements.
“I suppose the one good thing that has come from all this has been that it really has brought everyone together.”
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