News December 2021


Co-op supports local Leisure Centre 

We have recently received a cheque for £2,000 from the Co-op in Bishop’s Castle for the purchase of swim equipment to help children and young people learn to swim and gain confidence in the water. The equipment, demonstrated below by Ellie Evans and Andrew Pearce, was ordered by Ian Ison, the new manager, and installed within a month.

The Co-op in Bishop’s Castle selects 3 charities each year to benefit from its community fund supported by local shoppers with Co-op cards. It’s an easy way to generate income. The next 3 local charities to be selected are Going Wild in Bishop’s Castle, The Friends of Bishop’s Castle  Library and the Bishop’s Castle Weighbridge Project.

Rachel Buchannan, SpArC Trustee, said ” once again the SpArC charity would like to say a big thank you to the Co-op and the local community for their on- going support.  It’s really important that young people learn to swim and this new equipment will help them to do just that.” 

SpArC now offers:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Water Babies for children from 3 months, through a private provider

Fun Splash for children of any age – under 3s free, under 16s £2.80/£3.10

Swimming lessons from 4 years upwards – £4.90 in a termly block booking

For all sessions, one parent/carer is needed to support each child under 5, or two children from 5-7 years old.

SpArC does posh bingo once again 

Last Friday, the theatre opened its doors for the first time in two years to enthusiastic bingo players of all ages, keen to support the Centre. Seating and tables were arranged cabaret-style, with the stage buried under prizes donated by 56 local businesses and individuals. 

We all had a really enjoyable evening. 

Any doubts we might have had about support for the campaign were swept aside by vouchers for meals, days out, clothes and football matches; hampers of food, fruit and cheese; plants; spirits, beer and wine. Arguably the most popular prizes were the sacks of potatoes! Although Jane and Louise below were particularly lucky, most tables struck lucky at some point during the evening.

November 2021

Meet SpArc’s new manager – Ian Ison

The trustees of SpArc are delighted to welcome Ian Ison as the new manager of SpArc. Trustee Rachel Buchanan says ‘Ian brings with him a wealth of experience, and new energy and enthusiasm to our much-valued local leisure centre, and I look forward to seeing what he is going to do to make it even better for the Bishops Castle community.’

Ian’s experience

Ian began his career in leisure at the age of 16 as a lifeguard, and then worked his way up as a personal trainer, swimming and fitness instructor and finally manager in Sandwell, where he worked for 11 years. He moved to Shropshire with his partner to be close to his partner’s family, and after time working in Shrewsbury, he is delighted to take up his new position here in Bishops Castle. The role is a new challenge for him, and the chance to work with the local community to bring a whole leisure offer, not just sports, to SpArC. In his previous roles he has run family events including Strong Man competitions, open days and wrestling matches, and he is already working with Enterprise House and theatre manager Liz to look at what ideas they can come up with for a rounded programme of activities, fairs, tournaments and other events that utilise the space and bring new people into the centre.

His plans,

Having said this, Ian is also doing his best to strengthen the sports and leisure offer, and has already increased the gym opening hours, now open from 9am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, is working with Water Babies to bring new swim sessions for parents and babies, and has added extra Accessible Swim sessions on Tuesdays and Fridays. Local sports clubs already use the centre regularly, and a new netball league is due to start in the new year, along with the prospect of a refurbished gym, funded by the SpArC Charity. Ian and the fitness instructors are working on ideas for an increased fitness class offer, and he will also see if there is the possibility of expanding the excellent GP referral system, which currently runs two days a week Tuesdays and Friday. The only issue holding things back is availability of trained staff to run sessions, so SpArc is actively looking for new lifeguards and Fitness instructors in order to open the Centre as much as possible.

Our support

Ian is keen for everyone in the area to know that SpArc is open to the public, and that we should all come and visit. He is aware that some people are still feeling uncertain about safety during the pandemic, and wants to assure users that every effort is being made to keep people as safe as possible, including an ongoing increased cleaning regime, fitness classes currently running in the larger sports hall to offer people more space for distancing, and the opportunity to book sessions in advance to control user numbers. Ian and his team are on hand to answer any questions, so if in doubt, why not go on down and have a look for yourself?

All change from November 1!

SpArC Leisure Centre

From November 1, the fitness suite is open every day. Opening times are:

·      07.00 – 21.00 Tuesday, Friday

·      09.00 – 21.00 Monday, Wednesday, Thursday

·      09.00 – 13.00 Saturday

·      09.00 – 12.00 Sunday

Junior Gym Sessions run on Tuesday and Thursday 15.30 – 16.30.
and Boxing Youth Club 17.00 – 18.15 on Wednesdays.

There are also additional pool sessions:

·      14.00 – 15.00 Monday – for adults wishing to increase confidence

·      11.00 – 12.00 Tuesday and Friday –
accessible swimming for those with individual needs (free for carers).

·      09.00 – 11.00 Thursday – Water babies – for parents and infants

Book either by phoning the Centre (01588 630243) or by downloading the new Shropshire Leisure Time App which people are reporting to be really useful. If you have any downloading problems, ask Ian for help.

The Centre welcomes use of the Time to talk to us cards in reception, for criticism and praise, as well as for sharing ideas. Please don’t forget to swipe your card at reception as it is used by Shropshire Council to monitor the use of each facility.

SpArC Theatre

The theatre’s autumn programme is now well under way, with a full mix of films, live performances and, in December, screenings.

It is operating with a reduced capacity, socially distanced, audience which is much appreciated. However, it means that tickets should be booked in advance in order for the seating plan to be arranged to accommodate this. The theatre hopes to welcome you back soon.

You can find all the details here, including how to book tickets:

SpArC Charity

The Co-op Community Fund is donating £2,000 in November, for water play equipment for young children. This really generous amount complements the new offer brilliantly and is entirely due to your support of our project through your local co-op purchases.                                    

A Christmas Prize Bingo is being held on Friday 3rd December in the Theatre. Doors open at 7pm, Eyes Down at 8pm.  All welcome.

If anyone is able to donate a prize it would be very much appreciated.