A Stirling-based fencing club is hoping to encourage more local people to take up the sport after opening its doors for the first time earlier this summer.
Forth Valley Fencing Club (FVFC) is already going from strength to strength despite only being opened for six months. Getting to this stage has been a huge team effort and would not have been possible without the support of a range of partners and funders including The National Lottery.
In March last year FVFC received £8,916 from The National Lottery Community Fund in partnership with sportscotland. The funding was allocated via National Lottery Awards for All Scotland – a quick way to apply for smaller amounts of funding between £300 and £10,000.
That funding and wider support has been crucial to FVFC’s journey, as club coach Gregor MacCallum explains.
He said: “It is incredibly exciting to be finally up and running. For several years now, myself and the other coaches have had a dream of operating our own Salle and we took the bold decision to establish Forth Valley Fencing Club last year.
“It has been a long journey but we have had great support from Dunblane and Stirling Fencing Clubs"
“Once we were awarded charitable status we were able to apply for the Awards For All Grant. We identified a venue and put together a business plan, and opened our doors to fencers in April.
“Without this grant from the National Lottery through sportscotland all of what we have achieved would have simply not been possible. The grant allowed us to pay the deposit on the Salle and cover our initial rent and fit out costs. And since then we have really moved forward.”
Since receiving the initial Awards For All grant, FVFC has been working hard to build links with the local Forth Valley community, and the aim is to give more and more people the chance to try the sport.
Gregor added: “Our beginners learn to fence classes run every six weeks are regularly full and as a result of our free taster sessions run during the school holidays we are increasing our membership.
“We are using social media to great benefit but we would like to get some more adult members. As adult fencing has only just been allowed indoors again this is still in an embryonic stage but we want to grow.”
In addition to the Awards For All Scotland grant, FVFC also received funding from a sucessful GoFundme campaign, Baillie Gifford, Arnold Clark, RBS and Active Stirling as well as wider support from landlord Scott Properties and local politicians.
FVFC works in close partnership with Scottish Fencing and the governing body is delighted to see the club progress as Pathways Manager Blair Cremin explained. He said: “The coaches and Trustees of Forth Valley Fencing Club have shown us a great example of being proactive during the pandemic, and the opening of this facility shows what can be done when good people are driven by a real purpose to help others.
“The collaboration between a couple of clubs pooling their resources together to create an even better environment and experience for the local fencing community is so refreshing to see.
“On a personal note, as a resident of Stirling, it makes me extremely proud to see the first fencing Salle open in the city. Fencing is a sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, backgrounds and circumstance.
“The coaches at Forth Valley Fencing Club have shown a commitment to Changing Lives Through Sport through their involvement in our #ForgingTheFuture programme, and I am excited to see how they engage the local community with our wonderful sport.”