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Young hearts run free at ex-theatre
Buy this photo » Sam Egginton, 13, and Frankie Goodwin, 13, are delighted there will be a free running centre in Faringdon
FARINGDON youngsters will be jumping for joy when a free running centre opens in a former theatre.
Work begins next month on the £19,000 project to convert a disused theatre into the first parkour – or free running – centre in Oxfordshire.
Parkour is the use of buildings for youngsters to perform indoor acrobatics.
At the disused Old Pump House they will be able to run up walls and bounce off corners. The space will remain empty, but be rigged with electrics and heating.
Free runner Sam Egginton, 13, from Faringdon, said: “This will be a great opportunity, because at the moment there is literally nothing to do.
“Parkour is great because you can do what you want – you’re not graded, and your expression is only limited by your own imagination.”
The project has been masterminded by three parents — Olivia Bloomfield, Louise Smith and Bill Egginton.
Mrs Bloomfield said: “For Faringdon – which is really uncool – this will be a game changer.
“It has fallen off the edge of Oxfordshire, and this is something fun happening in the town.”
The group has been given the use of the theatre, which has been empty for more than a decade, for the next three years.
Mum-of-four Ms Smith, 54, was inspired to start the project by her 13-year-old free running-son Frankie.
She said: “It costs nothing to do, needs no special equipment, it is artistic, creative and inclusive – that is what is really good about it.
“But this is just the start. Faringdon needs a lot more.
“This is something that children have been asking for and if they want to start something up we should listen to them.
“Hopefully, kids will see this and want to start their own clubs – a dance crew, rock climbing – whatever they want to do.”
It is hoped the added benefit will be that parents bringing their teenage children to the only parkour centre in Oxfordshire will spend more time and money in the town.
Cash for the project has been donated by businesses, individuals and charities.
The money will pay for new electrics to be installed, a new heating system, and repairs to the dilapidated roof guttering.
The electrics will mean that young movie-makers can film, edit and upload parkour videos on-site.
All the young people in the area will be able to take advantage of the space, including the scouts and guides, who at the moment don’t have a permanent home.
The theatre is owned by the town council which leases the land from Lord Faringdon.
Councillors are planning to eventually restore the theatre to its former use, but are waiting for contributions to come in from housing developers building in the town.
Building work starts next month and the project is expected to be up and running in May.