Rimrose Valley running track to be restored to former glory
We are delighted to announce that plans to reinstate ‘Chaffers’ running track, which is located at the Waterloo end of Rimrose Valley, have been given the go ahead and work will begin very soon.
Further to last year’s wildflower meadow project, so many people spoke fondly of how they used the track, which is still just about visible around the field in which the meadow was created. Schools, athletics clubs and individuals all took advantage of the facility before it fell into disrepair.
Over the course of the past year, we approached a number of contractors to explore how much it would cost to carry out the work, but the quotes we received were way above what we could reasonably have hoped to raise via another crowdfunding initiative, running to tens of thousands of pounds.
Local runner, Chris Murphy, was aware of the desire to restore the track and wanted to help, so he introduced members of Rimrose Valley Friends and Rimrose Runners to John Carragher from Marsh Lane Harriers running club.
Being Jamie Carragher’s brother, John is connected to the 23 Foundation who have stepped in with an offer to fund and deliver the project. They access to the necessary plant, labour and funds to make it happen and work is expected to begin in the very near future.
The joint venture between Rimrose Valley Friends and Marsh Lane Harriers required plans and applications to be submitted to Sefton Council.These have now been approved and a 2-year license has been granted to restore and use the track.
Speaking on behalf of Rimrose Valley Friends, Trustee Linda Gaskell said:
“We’re so excited about this project and are hugely grateful to Marsh Lane Harriers and the 23 Foundation for helping to make this happen. It’s really positive and will hopefully attract even more people to Rimrose Valley.
“Everyone involved is aware of the threat of Highways England’s road and that the exact route is still unknown. The fact that the foundation has decided to support this anyway and Sefton Council has given the go ahead is a huge statement of intent and shows how we are planning for the long-term future of Rimrose Valley as a vital community asset.”
Co-leader of Rimrose Runners and fellow Rimrose Valley Friends Trustee, Sarah Edey added:
“This is fantastic news not only for local running clubs like our own, but the whole community. It’s amazing that different community groups have come together to make it happen. We will soon have a facility where we can train and hold events, but will obviously continue to use the rest of Rimrose Valley for our longer trail runs which take in the amazing scenery and nature it has to offer.”
John Carragher is coordinating the work and is a founding member of Marsh Lane Harriers. He explained:
“Our running club formed in August 2019 with just 5 members and we ran our first marathon in Florence last November. We now have 38 active members and are still growing. We’re planning to run many more marathons and half marathons in the future, so having a running track to train on will be a huge help. As soon as we heard that efforts were being made to restore a sports facility the whole community can use to keep fit, we knew it was something we wanted to be involved in. We’re really excited and can’t wait to get started.”
The news has been warmly welcomed by other local running groups. Dennis Gill, a former coach of Southport Waterloo Athletics Club, who fought to keep the original track, is particularly pleased at the announcement. He said:
“When I’ve been past the track in recent years it’s been really sad to see it deteriorate to the extent that you can no longer tell it was there, so it’s absolutely fantastic that it’s being revived in this way.
“In its heyday the track was home to hundreds of kids and other athletes, but it was also popular with the local community and there were always runners using it for their own training. It would be great to see that happening again.”
Current Club Secretary, Chris Henders added:
“Our club spent many happy years using the facilities at Chaffers. The coaching team helped hundreds of children to make good life choices by creating a great family environment for them to train and compete in all elements of athletics. For a number of years, I personally had the opportunity to be coached there and enjoyed every moment.
“To hear that the track will once again be used to enhance the local community is exciting news. We see this as a great opportunity for the local and wider community to be introduced to the fun and love of running and all at Southport Waterloo AC wish this project the best of luck.
“If any athlete wants to go on to compete at any level they would be very welcome to be signposted towards our club to take those next steps.”
Affiliated Running & Athletics Coach, Liz Stanfield added:
"Chaffers holds a really special place in the memories of so many people in Sefton. I first started running there when I was 8 years old, so I'm delighted that this project is bringing this vital community asset back to life. Stormers Ladies Running clubs fully support initiatives like this which will get people active and improve their health and wellbeing. It will be great to have the track restored."
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