Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Gymnastics club springs back with new site

A CHILDREN’S gymnastics club has found a new home in Henley.

A CHILDREN’S gymnastics club has found a new home in Henley.

Springbox Gymnastics, which was based at Gillotts School since 1990 until last month, had to move due to rising fees and a lack of storage space.

It is now based next door at Henley Leisure Centre and is making use of the extra space available.

Caroline Sweetman, 54, who runs the club, said: “It’s fantastic and a weight off my mind. At last we now know we can go forward.

“This is fantastic with the extra space we have here. Now we’re able to get more equipment and get some of the girls in competitions.

“We can put stuff in the store room they have here, which we couldn’t do before.”

Mrs Sweetman, of Leaver Road, first started the club to occupy her three children. One of her daughters, Carly Belcher, is now assistant coach at the club and another, Charlotte Lindsey, won a silver medal in gymnastics at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

About 90 children regularly attend Friday evening sessions and another 25 attend cheerleading classes, which started in September.

Mrs Sweetman claimed she was “forced out” of the school after it decided to increase the costs of hiring the hall.

She had been paying £28 per hour but the school decided to raise the charges to the same amount for the first hour and £50 for the second hour.

Headteacher Catharine Darnton said this was because it was outside of normal school opening times and it needed to pay either overtime or an agency fee to cover caretaking.

Mrs Sweetman said: “I would have continued the club anyway but it would have just been a case of having to pay more money.”

She said the extra space also allows them to run a squad club, which trains gymnasts for competitions, and she hopes to add another cheerleading club.

The club will be represented by 30 members aged between five and 18 at this year’s Henley Youth Festival.

“As we improve as a club we can enter competitions as well,” said Mrs Sweetman.

“Our target is to eventually hold parties and holiday clubs, including gym weeks during the summer.”

The club has purchased new equipment, including a tumble track, vaulting box, beam and safety mats and is planning on hosting fund-raising activities to pay for them. Adam Robinson, general manager at the leisure centre, said: “It’s great to have an affiliation with a gymnastics club as we’re looking to develop a legacy after the London Olympics as gymnastics was a popular event.”

Cheerleading classes are held on Wednesday, 5pm to 7pm, and gymnastics on Fridays, also between 5pm and 7pm. For more information about the gymnastics club, visit

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