Pupils join in with the fundraising effort for snazzy new sports hall

Ashlyns students are excited about the development of their new sports hall
Ashlyns students are excited about the development of their new sports hall

A Dacorum secondary school is encouraging its pupils to take part in next month’s Berkhamsted Five Mile Fun Run to raise sponsorship to fund a new state-of-the-art sports hall, due to open its doors in September.

Students from Ashlyns School in Berkhamsted have embraced the challenge by asking friends and family to sponsor them to take part in the race, with a view to raising up to £30,000 to equip the new facility.

The school is offering Amazon vouchers, house points and merits as prizes to the students in various years who raise the most money.

Headteacher James Shapland says that the new sports hall requires some £60,000-worth of new kit, such as fitness equipment, nets, balls, mats and other items.

Previous fundraising drives have already raised £30,000 – including contributions from the Clutterbuck Trust, the St Peter’s Church Petertide Fair and local donors.

Other initiatives include a ’24-hour bounce’, a sponsored bike ride held by the PE department and fundraising projects driven by the parent-led Ashlyns School Association.

Ground was broken on the site behind the main Ashlyns School building in December, and the building – which will boast a sports hall large enough for four badminton courts and more, as well as a dance studio, a gym with 60 stations and four changing rooms – has already begun to take shape.

Mr Shapland said the new hall will be a “fantastic and necessary addition” to the school, which presently only has a 1930s gym space barely large enough for one badminton court and changing rooms housed in portables outside the main building – hardly sufficient for a school of 1,200 students.

“We are a land-rich school, but up to now we’ve been woefully under-resourced in terms of dedicated space for indoor sport,” he said.

The addition of the all-weather Berko Astro football pitch – a joint project between the school and Berkhamsted Raiders and funded in part by the Football Foundation – was a welcome addition to the town’s existing outdoor facilities.

The new £2 million sport hall will be operated on the same principle, providing top-notch indoor sports facilities for the school and the wider community, with access to the public in the evenings and on weekends.

Mr Shapland said he was a “great believer in sport in secondary schools”, adding that “on so many levels, the Ashlyns Sports Hall is a truly great thing.

“With its multiple state-of-the-art indoor facilities, it will foment a culture of physical activity by increasing participation in sports and fitness. “But it’s also a two-track facility: it will create opportunities within the school and the wider community for high-end performance.”

The sports hall will open a year behind schedule, after planning permission was delayed over design and conservation issues.

In the end, the facility will be slightly smaller than planned, and will be made out of a combination of concrete and brick, unlike facilities in other schools in the borough.

But Mr Shapland believes that the Ashlyns sports hall will be the “best possible facility for the money.”

He added: “By their nature, sports halls don’t always look good; they can look like aircraft hangars, made of breeze blocks and corrugated metal, which have a lifespan of around 60 years.

But our hall will be built from concrete, with a stone render, while the dance studio and gymnasium section will have a brick overlay; it is designed to last for 150 years or more.”

The installation of solar PV panels will reduce the building’s carbon footprint and lower costs, in what Mr Shapland says is “a model of good practice for students”.

Donations towards the new sports hall from friends and families of present, past and future Ashlyns students, as well as from the wider community and corporate donors, would be gratefully received. Please contact Ashlyns School at admin@ashlyns.herts.sch.uk.