There is a modest plaque in the foyer of The Edge Leisure Centre in Haslemere which recognises the quite outstanding achievement of the three people who provided the centre in the first place – Nick Chilton, Eric Thomson and (their project financial advisor) Peter Cashen.
Quite unusually, this multi-million-pound community facility wasn’t directly provided by any of the local authorities but it was driven by two local residents who, through sport, gave up much of their retired life to make a difference in their community.
The legacy of Eric and Nick at Woolmer Hill (sports ground and school) includes a pavilion, two full-sized artificial pitches, athletics training facilities and, significantly, The Edge Leisure Centre.
I know this because I was privileged to witness first-hand the breadth of their quite extraordinary work, all delivered on an entirely voluntary basis and achieved through effective partnership working.
I therefore read with dismay that the centre is closed for the time being and with valuable clubs and users left in limbo.
While I’m heartened that the successful Weydon Multi-Academy Trust may have a stake in its future, I was in equal measure disturbed that Sport Haslemere, the local sports council, appear to have been kept out of the loop.
They have a responsible chair in Chris Grimes and this is a clearly a moment for working together, especially in the current climate when recreational, health and wellbeing opportunities should surely be high on everyone’s agenda.
Personally, I’ve worked – both professionally and voluntarily – in community sport for some 50 years and in all those years (though Peter Clement also leaves a substantial sporting legacy in the area) I’ve never come across two such productive volunteers as Eric and Nick.
To be frank, they deserve statues on the site to acknowledge their dedication and contribution to community sport in Haslemere but, should they have still been with us, I know they’d simply settle for the doors of The Edge to remain open to the local community.
Glorney Mead, Farnham