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Concern as Bourne End school community gym served eviction notice
MEMBERS of a community gym based in a Bourne End school have rushed to its defence after the school’s interim board served the owner with an eviction notice.
Wye Valley School, which was placed in special measures in March, gave the Exercise Studio three months notice to leave in July after deciding the space could be better used.
And members have rallied round to protect the studio, which has catered for the elderly as well as students and staff for 18 years.
Terry Broom, 52, who has three daughters at the school, said: "A few years ago, I was a Billy-no-mates and my self esteem was at an all time low with depression.
"I was reluctant to join a gym, but I went to a class after my kids told me about the one at school.
"Thanks to the support of the staff and great community spirit there I’ve built my confidence and made some fantastic friends - it’s turned my life around.
"I will be absolutely gutted if it disappears. For me, the interim board has misjudged the culture and community spirit of the individuals attending the gym."
Terry said owner Jason Croucher spurred him on to take on the challenge of a lifetime last year, when he successfully climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and won a national award for his efforts.
Jason, who has run the gym for five years, confirmed he received a letter at the end of the summer term informing him of the decision to shut his premises on October 31.
He said: "It’s a community gym and we don’t run it for profit. All the money that we make is put back into the gym.
"The reaction from members has been very humbling - it’s a real eye opener. You think you’re just running a gym but the members have been a very supportive and have volunteered to help and write letters in support."
The Exercise Clinic was shortlisted in 2011 as one of the country's five best gyms for rehabilitation facilities, with classes to help people restore their fitness following surgery or illness.
Members have contacted MP Dominic Grieve as well as county councillor Mike Appleyard, a former school governor, to help save the gym, which is set to close on October 31.
Interim headteacher Andrea Jacobson confirmed the board made the decision as part of its agenda to raise standards following the damning Ofsted report published in March.
She said: "School accommodation for students is one part of the improvements that need to be made and the area that the gym currently occupies could be better used by the school in order for this to take place.
"The IEB also has to ensure the school’s statutory safeguarding responsibilities are strengthened. A facility open to the public in the heart of any school can add additional pressures and expense.
"The IEB regrets that the school no longer has the financial or physical capacity to support The Exercise Clinic with accommodation, but is confident it is making the best decision for The Wye Valley School students - current and future.
"It wishes the owner of the Exercise Clinic and his clients every best wish for the future."
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