2016 has been a special year for everyone associated with UTS. Not only did we celebrate the first year in our new facility, but this was also the year that we launched the UTS Foundation; our own charity set up to help the most vulnerable members of our community. As such, we would like to take a moment of your time to reflect on our journey so far, and hold true to our philosophy that charity should be transparent; in all that it does.
In the early part of the year we created and developed relationships with strategic partners, such as the NHS, Macmillan Nurses, and specialist cancer referral units which we aim to help on our Foundation journey. This period of partnership building has been key, and wholly underpins our Foundation moto of ‘together we rise’.
Our first piece of community work began back in May at the fantastic Hoylake Chapel Community Fun Day, where Coach Holly delivered a series of circuits to various groups who came to the event; including children with special needs. Then, in June, we linked up with the annual National School Sports Week, supporting a strategy to increase participation in sport for children of school age; five local secondary schools, and over 150 pupils, took part in a variety of different classes that focused on mobility, strength, and cardio vascular training. We also welcomed a very special group of children from Belarus who were part of the Chernobyl Children’s Lifetime initiative. Many of these young people have suffered with serious illnesses due to radiation still being present in their environment, it was an honour and a privilege to invite these children into our UTS home.
August saw us officially launch the Foundation at our prestigious black-tie event at Thornton Hall Hotel and Spa. To mark this very special occasion we hosted a fantastic fundraising evening to commence the task of raising the money required to achieve the Foundation’s goals. The response and generosity of all those who attended was nothing short of phenomenal, and utterly overwhelming; raising an incredible £14,000 on the night.
In the wake of the official Foundation launch a period of quiet hard work was undertaken, and by the September a local organization (that respectfully wish to remain anonymous) very kindly donated an amazing £15,000 to the UTS Foundation. This tremendous gesture demonstrates perfectly just how this project has resonated with all members in our local community.
September also saw the return of the local Woody Dog Cup, held at Caldy Rugby club, and hosted by our very own UTS Tribe member, Kim Matthews. This annual touch rugby tournament chose the Foundation as its nominated charity for 2016, and with mixed teams of boy, girls, and adults taking part in the event over £250 was raised and donated towards our charity.
In October, thanks to your votes and support, we managed to secure almost £1,000 (£950 to be exact) from the Your Wirral Fund. The grant will be used to pay for 120 targeted and marginalised local people, including children, providing the with access a structured program of health, wellbeing, nutrition, and fitness classes at the Underground Training Station, Hoylake. Our first project with West Kirby Residential School will begin in January helping over 30 children with special needs access 6-weeks of structured exercise sessions.
November brought some more great news as Medicash accepted our funding application of £5,000 towards a very specialist piece of kit called Kinesis which is designed to allow people to exercise and move their entire body focusing on strength, flexibility, and functional movements and is ideal for post cancer care and those who wish to recover strength, flexibility, and mobility. Throughout 2017 the Foundation will seek to acquire more and more specialized items of exercise equipment to empower our activities with the targeted groups we will be working with – but we will always stay true to our pledge that “good kit is valuable, but great coaching is priceless.”
In December, another successful funding bid allowed us to obtain a defibrillator machine and comprehensive kit pack allowing us to offer training and education children and local organisations regarding how to make use of the machine: administering vital First Aid, and potentially saving lives in cases of emergency.
More recently we have finalised plans so that we can start our cancer referral project in partnership with Macmillan, and local Macmillan Nurses. This will commence in February 2017, and will enable us to provide free exercise and nutrition programs to women with breast cancer. We have also secured places on a 5-day Cancer Exercise Referral Program, up-skilling two of our coaches so that we can further develop the cancer exercise referral project we are so committed to and passionate about.
We have been working hard to develop the UTS Run Club and in early 2017 it will become affiliated to England Athletics. As well as the obvious benefits of a run club, such as competing against other clubs and creating our own events, UTS Runners will be able to help raise funds for the Foundation by taking part and competing in various challenges and races across the region, country, and world.
As we close the door on 2016, a year that has been tough on a lot of people in a lot of ways, we at the UTS are looking forward to 2017 and what promises to be a very exciting year for the UTS Foundation. We will continue to develop our partnerships with local agencies and remain committed to raising funds for more free programs of exercise for cancer patients and other vulnerable local people, as well as developing plans and raising money for the Specialist Cancer Exercise Referral Unit and Youth Development Facility next door. We are proud of the work that we have done so far, however please do bare in mind that this is just the beginning – we promise to do charity right, we promise to use our strength as UTS to lift those in our community who most need our help, and we promise to keep the Tribe at the forefront of our thoughts and actions in all that we do.
We want to extend a very Special Thanks to those of you who have supported and helped our projects over the last 12 months, and to those who we know will continue to do so in the future.
*Below is a sneak peak of some first draft images of next door from our friends at Technogym *