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Brassed-off volunteers

Len Tingle
Len Tingle
Editor
The Politics Show
BBC Yorkshire and Lincolnshire

Brass instruments
Grimethorpe club in danger of falling into ruin

Voluntary groups claim their ambitions, to see an aging miners' welfare club in South Yorkshire used as a springboard for much needed social and sports projects, are being frustrated.

They say that the vast building and attached sports fields of the club at Grimethorpe are in danger of falling into total ruin because of a lack of funding.

"It has been here for a century, built for the families of miners at the local pit and the need for it has never been greater," says Tony Devoy, secretary of the Grimethorpe Miners Welfare and Institute - known locally as the "Stute".

Tony Devoy, Club Secretary at Grimethorpe Miners Welfare
Tony Devoy: All falling apart

Multiple activities

On the day Tony invited the Politics Show cameras to call, a ball room dancing club was using the club's dilapidated function room.

In a separate clubhouse, volunteer first aiders were teaching life saving techniques to over 50 youngsters.

Not far away, four new recruits were attempting to play their first notes on cornets loaned to them by the junior brass band.

Outside, a rugby training session was underway.

"We have amazing facilities," says Tony, "but they are literally falling apart.

"There is a rugby pitch and a cricket ground but the pavilion has been condemned. It is a death trap."

Long-abandoned bowling green
Bowling green has disappeared under weeds
Bowling green lost

Tony took us through a hole in a fenced off area round the back of the club to see yet another ruined pavilion in front of a large square of weed-infested rough ground.

"This used to be one of the best crown green bowling clubs in Yorkshire," says Tony.

"The strike in the 80s, then the closure of the pit in the 90s, has meant there's not the money around to keep it going."

Funding explored

Over the past two years Tony has applied for funding from every source he can think of including government, local authorities, sports foundations and the lottery.

"We have had some money, but nothing like what it will take to give this place a secure future."

Grimethorpe
Grimethorpe in the days when pit dominated the town

Village recovering

Grimethorpe is clearly recovering from the economic shock of the loss of 6,000 jobs when the pit shut in 1993.

Families are moving into the village's first private housing estates and more are being built.

Smart new industrial units now stand on what used to be the pit top and new roads link the village to other parts of South Yorkshire.

Social needs

"It is the other parts of life here that need help now," says Tony.

"We are told that cash, to help voluntary organisations, is being targeted to those who can also show some element of economic benefit.

"But there are plenty of organisations around here already providing skills training and that sort of thing.

"We feel that sports and social life are equally important.

"There are plenty of people volunteering to help and set up new projects but they need a place to do it."

Brass Band
Junior members of the Grimethorpe and District Brass Band at practice

The Politics Show

The Politics Show cameras will also be live at Hoyland Common Working Mens Club to talk to and hear from Rockingham Band, who have just clinched promotion in last weekend's Yorkshire brass band championships.

And... Barnsley East MP Jeff Ennis will be telling us why he thinks there should be more aid for brass bands to encourage the work they do to hold communities together.

Plus... Should there be more Bank Holidays in Britain? We ask Cleethropes MP Shona McIsaac why she is pressing for us to try and catch up with the rest of Europe in holidays

The Politics Show for Yorkshire Lincolnshire and the North Midlands links up with the national part of programme in a special edition where both look at different aspects of the role of volunteers in a modern society.

That is the Politics Show, presented from Leeds by Clare Frisby and with Jon Sopel in London from 12:00 GMT, Sunday 09 March 2008 on BBC One.


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