In the beautiful surroundings of Newark Town Hall, guests joined with charity supporters and speakers on Monday 12 November for the official launch of local charity, YMCA Newark and Sherwood.

New opportunities for all

The new branch, which has been created by parent charity Nottinghamshire YMCA, aims to build a stronger sense of community across Newark and Sherwood through its Community and Activity Village project.

Visitors were treated to an evening of moving keynote speeches at this milestone launch event, compered by popular Hollyoaks actor Colin Wells.

Will Wakefield, CEO at Nottinghamshire YMCA and YMCA Newark and Sherwood, took to the stage to thank guests and share the journey so far in developing a brand-new branch for the local area before officially launching the local charity.

Although guided by a national movement, each YMCA is autonomous, developing programmes to inspire, benefit and respond to the needs of the local community. For YMCA Newark and Sherwood, the first step is to build a state-of-the-art community facility on Bowbridge Road, which will eventually play host to a huge variety of programmes to support the mind, body and spirit of everyone in the local community.

Football pitches open for bookings in Newark
Young people from YouCanDoSport christen the community pitches at the launch event

Range of activities

Sentiments and enthusiasm were shared by local Councillor David Lloyd, who spoke of how Newark and Sherwood District Council shares the vision of the YMCA. He praised the importance of supporting children, young people and their families to have access to the best facilities possible, creating spaces where people can become the best versions of themselves.

The charity launched its 3G football pitches and athletics track this month. It was therefore important to remind guests that the Community and Activity Village, which will be home to YMCA Newark and Sherwood, is so much more than just a sporting facility. It will be a place for arts, dance, fashion, sports, life skills and life-long education.

Keynote speaker Neil Sands, CEO and Founder of Fox Design, spoke of how supporting young people helps them reach their potential, and the exciting possibilities of the future for Newark which will be made reality through the projects and cutting-edge facilities the charity will facilitate or provide.

Catalyst for positive change

The final talk of the evening was delivered by Claire Lomas MBE, a British campaigner, fundraiser and former event rider, known for finishing the 32nd London Marathon in 17 days using the ReWalk robotic suit to raise funds for spinal research. Claire gave a fantastic talk about her own experiences and struggles after being left with paraplegia in a horse-riding accident from 2007. Her spirit and message were clear – that although life became fiercely difficult, the support and opportunities she continued to say ‘yes’ to have allowed her to live a rich life, with success and love in her family and career.

The evening was a fantastic celebration of how community provisions can make a significant positive impact on individuals, how far YMCA Newark and Sherwood has come and recognition of how far there still is to go. The vision of healthy living, youth development and social responsibility for Newark is as strong as ever, with incredibly exciting things just around the corner!