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RiversMeet’s Spirit of Christmas Fair on December 6 – 8 is raising money for two groups in the community – all profits from the fair will go to Gillingham Town Football Club and the Blackmore Vale Boxing Cub.  ‘It’s the first event we’ve held where it’s charity to charity,’ says the leisure centre’s General Manager, Alan Waistell. ‘Now that we are financially sustainable ourselves, we can start to give support and help to the community in the way that we have been supported since we opened. We want to say thank you and to give back.’
Here’s what the money will mean to them both…

Gillingham Town Football Club
The football club will put the money from the Spirit of Christmas fair towards the huge cost of lights and a stand for their new grounds at the end of Hardings Lane.
The club which moved to new premises two years ago is without both which come at a cost of £45,000. ‘It’s a large amount and the RiversMeet proceeds will be a step towards reaching our target,’ says chairman Patrick Ficker.
Patrick hopes that having the facilities will help return the club to the days when its main team was good enough to play in the early rounds of the FA Cup. ‘We played teams three leagues above us and sometimes bettered them,’ he says.
The club, which is run by volunteers, currently has six teams including a women’s team, and hopes to have more. ‘We’ll be able to link up with the youth which is a big thing,’ says Patrick. ‘Without lights, we can’t train after school.’
‘As a club we have real ambition,’ he continues. ‘We are working very, very hard to get to where we want to be – playing a better standard of football, more supporters and a team that is more entertaining for the town.’
For more information see here.

Blackmore Vale Boxing Club
The club was founded in 1954 and can still be found in the same premises on Hardings Lane.
Affliated to Boxing England, it has about 40 members including some carded boxers who compete in tournaments. It survives on yearly subscriptions as well as some sponsorship from local business, in particular The Salt Cellar in Shaftesbury.
Despite this, money is tight and doesn’t allow for many improvements – the money raised by the Spirit of Christmas fair will go towards a proper boxing ring. ‘At the moment we have a temporary ring which we put up and take down each time we use it’ says Keith Dukes, head coach, who started boxing with the club when he was nine years old, and is still affiliated with the club over 50 years later.  ‘We’ll be able to buy the ropes, the corner padding and flooring with foam underlay.’
The club is open two nights a week for boxing and two nights a week for boxercise. ‘Boxercise has the same kind of training but you don’t spar, and you don’t have to be medicalised,’ says Keith.
Those in the club are aged from 10-40 years old and include men and women, boys and girls. ‘In today’s climate youngsters not getting regular exercise, boxing helps, but it is also good helping with discipline and self-belief. Plus it’s a great stress-reliever.’
Keith has two coaches working with him, including a female coach to help encourage more women to join. ‘They both have first aid qualifications, child welfare certifcas and have been BDS checked,’ says Keith.
Boxing, Monday and Wednesday; boxerercise, Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 8pm. For more information see here.

The Spirit of Christmas fair…

** Crafts, choirs, Santa Claus & cute animals plus live bands and local ales…

** The brilliant local bands playing the Spirit of Christmas fair

** Eat, drink & be merry!

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