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Young free runners form into major town group

Wednesday, 23rd March 2011.

A group of Haverhill youngsters attended last night's meeting of Haverhill Town Council to tell members about their free running activities in the town, and to ask for support.

Free running, or parkour as it is also known, involves using the built environment as a setting for physical activity, ranging from the acrobatics sometimes on display around the market square to running along the roofs of town centre buildings.

Councillors heard there were now some 60 free runners in the town and they had formed themselves into a group and were keen to work towards the provision of a specific area for them to use.

Their spokesman Sam Shepherd gave a presentation about the 'non-competitive art form' of free running, describing it as a self-discipline, and 'a journey to find out who you are'.

"It is a gateway for young people to get out of depression," he said. "They are dedicated and committed and they have to train, work out and eat healthily."

He said they needed a specific area so as to avoid disturbing residents, shopkeepers and the market.

Members heard there was a National Parkour association, and that a specific site was already in operation in Basingstoke.

Haverhill free runners had been meeting up with a group from Stowmarket who already had somewhere to use.

Their numbers had grown to 60 within a year, aged from ten to 30, making free running now a major activity in the town.

Members agreed to give the group a grant of 150 to get it started, and give assistance and support which would hopefully enable it to attract much larger financial support from other organisations.

Mr Shepherd said they wanted to raise their profile in te town and would be keen to give displays at The Haverhill Show, Big Bash and Big Day Out.

Cllr Margaret Marks described what they were doing as 'terrific', but she urged them to take a more responsible attitude to running on listed buildings which had caused some damage and tended not to make them popular with shopkeepers.

Members were also keen that proper insurance and protection measures were in place within nthe group as soon as possible, but they also instructed town clerk Gordon Mussett to indicate they would be happy to consider giving further support to the group in the future.

Haverhill Online News

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