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Windfall for SpArC to benefit local young people

The Trustees of the SpArC charity have recently received a significant windfall of nearly £17k from another charity called the “Christian Adventure Trust”, which decided to close and transfer its remaining funds to SpArC on the condition that the monies would be invested in the provision of opportunities for local young people to acquire skills, experience and qualifications in an educational or working environment.

Graham Hemmings, Trustee and Treasurer said: “We are delighted to have been chosen to receive this funding and to be able to use it for the benefit of our local young people. We hope that this in turn will enable our young people to contribute to a wider range and improved quality of services in the future for the benefit of everyone in the local community”

The Trustees of the Save the SpArC charity intend to work with local employers, schools and colleges to develop opportunities and will publicise funding opportunities later this year.

 For information about the Save the SpArC campaign, see our website Or our facebook page savethesparc

Editor’s Note:

The Save the Sparc campaign has raised over £150k towards improving the leisure centre  which includes the award of a  community energy grant from M&S which has been used to install a new pool cover which is reducing running costs though reducing heat loss and water evaporation. 

*Anyone wishing to make a donation to the “Don’t let the SpArC go out” campaign or to find out more about it can do so on line at   Cheques can be sent to Enterprise House, Bishops Castle and should be made payable to “Sport & Art in the Community (SPARC) SW Shropshire”


You might not see it yet, but change is afoot as part of Shropshire Council’s planning to take over the management of SpArC Centre from 1st April 2020.

The Council’s aims, county-wide, are to:

  • embed leisure centres into local communities
  • engage with local communities to deliver a service that meets the needs of residents
  • support the health and wellbeing arm of its corporate plan
  • reduce its carbon footprint.

ACTION TO DATE includes:

  • An operations manager for all four Joint Use (school/public) Centres started this month
  • The process of transferring SpArC staff to Shropshire Council has started, protecting their jobs
  • The priorities shared in last summer’s surveys have been identified
  • An additional Pilates class started 17.1.20 – details available at reception
  • Membership will continue as usual, with renewal due on your normal date. Please don’t forget to sign in/let reception know when you arrive to use the Centre.


  • Generated nearly £37,000 in 2019, through a combination of local activities, town, council and private donations, gift aid and grant funding.
  • Is making serious plans to replace all the gym equipment with modern, multipurpose kit appropriate to a range of abilities. This will involve substantial expenditure, once we have an agreed basis for it.
  • Has decided that the signs to Save our SpArC have served their purpose. If you see any, it would really help if you could take them down.


    National Citizenship Scheme
    16-year-olds from CCBC raised £548 for SpArC through a combination of a car wash, bingo session, sponsored walk and packing shopping in Morrisons.
  • Prize Bingo and Annual Draw The increasingly popular SpArC Christmas Prize Bingo took place in the theatre on Friday December 6, raising an astonishing £2,170.
  • Pocket Park Bid Ruth Houghton has made a bid, in conjunction with SC, for the complete overhaul and redesign of the space at the heart of SpArC. A couple of bids are also being made to fund equipment for people with special needs.

The new Spring Programme is now available,
with a great selection of films, music, theatre and opera, at

  • Arts Exhibition There were great contributions from young people and others for the fundraiser Art exhibition in October: some beautiful work was auctioned via a silent bidding system, raising over £1200 for the theatre
  • Co-op The Theatre is one of three local causes until October 2020. If customers choose this by logging into their account, 1% of what they spend on Co-op goods will go to Sparc Theatre.

For further details please contact:

Jean Shirley 01588 63887

Ruth Houghton 01588 638352



Ecclesiastical 12 Days of Giving
Could you help Save The SpArC and Sparc Theatre be in with a chance of winning £1000?
Ecclesiastical 12 Days of Giving is back.
Ecclesiastical will be donating, £1,000 to 120 charities over 12 days. They have given funding to all kinds of causes over the years, including Save The SpArC and know what a huge difference £1,000 can make to a charity.
Nominations are open now, closing at midnight the day before each draw. Charities not drawn will be carried over to the next draw, and draws will take place each weekday from Thursday 5 December to Friday 20 December 2019.
We are a little late in sharing this but there is still time to submit a nomination via the link below.

The SpArC annual draw and Christmas Bingo was held in the SpArC theatre this year and was a rave success!
We have had lots of great feedback and raised a lot of money too.
After costs ( hire of bingo machine, purchase  of bingo books)  we made a whopping  £2170. Lucky Squares 90.00Raffle 228.00Bingo card sales 812.00Annual Draw 1040.00.
Plus bar takings which will be retained  by the Theatre. 



After a quiet summer, things are on the move!
Shropshire Council (SC) is on track to take over the management of SpArC Centre from 1st April 2020.  In the coming months they will be putting things in place to ensure as smooth a transition as possible:

  • Existing staff will transfer to Shropshire Council as part of this process.
  • Leisure Centre membership has substantially increased over the last two years, and annual ones will be renewed as normal.
  • Equipment has been audited. In response to customer requests, the SpArC charity has recently purchased fans for spinning and other classes and a heavy weights bar for the gym. Kevin Bavastock, Trustee confirmed: “we were pleased to replace this essential equipment quickly. As with everything else purchased by the charity, including the pool cover, it will remain the property of the community for use at SpArC.”
  • A joint meeting between Shropshire Council and the SpArC Charity has taken place to begin to build on the Charity’s business plan in taking the Centre forward.


Friends of SpArC Theatre
We would like to invite all those people wishing to give the Theatre a bit of extra support to consider becoming a Friend. Anyone interested will find all the information they need, plus a form to set up a standing order, in the leaflet now available from Enterprise House and the SpArC centre.  Further information can also be obtained from Graham Hemmings

November 2019
It has come to our notice that some people are worried that donations to Sport and Art in the Community SpArC South West Shropshire are going to support either Teme Leisure or in future will go to support Shropshire Council.

We hereby announce and promise that;
All monies raised by us go to support SpArC only, either for equipment, activities or training for our young people, and not for any other purpose.
if you want more information on fundraising  for the Save The SpArC charity, please contact
Jean Shirley, Ruth Houghton, Kate Evans or Lou Prole at


The Theatre is not our only unique asset. We have the only public Squash courts in SW Shropshire, with the nearest alternative in Newtown. They are a valued resource, with a club made up of regular players from across the region.
The squash club has recently introduced coaching for young people. Three coaches are offering intensive tuition every fortnight to 11 students from the Community College. The Squash club at SpArC welcomes new members; anyone interested in joining should contact Jean Appleby (07973 834420)


Apple Pressing
The recent community apple pressing day held in Bishop’s Castle was as popular as ever with local people wanting to make their own apple juice and cider. The event raised £555 in total for SpArC: £225 on the day and £330 from donations made by local supporters.
Kate Evans, who organised the day, said: ‘we were very pleased with the income we raised on the day but for that to be more than doubled through donations is fantastic. Thank you”
The event, now in its fourth year, is made possible by the kind donation of the apple pressing equipment from the Kemp Valley Group and the hard work of their and SpArC’s volunteers.

Theatre Support
SpArC trustees are delighted to hear that the Theatre has been selected by the Co-op as one of three local charities in Bishop’s Castle. We would also like to thank Bishops Castle town council for donating a one-off payment of £1,000 to the theatre this year.

Annual Draw
With Christmas drawing ever closer, the Save the SpArC charity has 2 major fundraisers planned.  The first is an annual draw with the top prize of a Viking Classic Trekking bike.Other prizes include a stay at Bank House B&B, speciality gin, and champagne.  Tickets, which cost £1 each, are available from Trustees and SpArC reception and the draw will be made on Friday 6th December.

Prize Bingo
The second fundraiser is the increasingly popular SpArC Christmas prize Bingo.  This year’s event will be on Friday 6TH December at SpArC Theatre.  Doors open at 7pm with eyes down at 8pm.  We have a fantastic selection of prizes and wish to thank the many local businesses who support us each year.  All are welcome.

This a new fundraising opportunity for SpArC; this is the link for it

How does AmazonSmile work?
When first visiting, customers are prompted to select a charitable organisation. Amazon will give 0.5% of the net purchase price (excluding VAT and other shipping fees) of eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the charitable organisations selected by our customers.
How does my organisation receive the donations?
Each quarter, AmazonSmile makes donations to eligible charitable organisations by electronic funds transfer. Donations will be transferred within 28 days after the end of the following calendar quarter. To account for product returns, we may reduce the amount of donations in a given calendar quarter and add it to the subsequent quarter, subject to any reduction due to returns from prior quarters.


This year’s SpArC Apple Pressing Day raised £225

Not as much as in previous years but it was a bad year for apples; if it wasn’t early frost, it was codling moth, wasps and other pests. It was a great day though and many thanks to the Kemp Valley Group for the equipment and expert help with pasteurising. And to all the stalwart volunteers!

Bishop’s Castle Leisure Survey
Sport and Arts in the Community (SpArC) Leisure Centre

Thank you to everyone who completed the SpArC questionnaire resulting from the public meeting in June. It produced a host of really helpful comments and suggestions that will be invaluable in planning.
Meanwhile, Shropshire Council needs a formal, on-line consultation process to make sure that all possible views are collected. So, even if you responded to the previous questionnaire, will you follow the link below to give your views,
by the end of October?
It would also be good if you could forward it to any other users you know, including visitors.

Many thanks,   SpArC Charity

The trustees of the Save The SpArC charity have recently raised with Teme Leisure a number of your comments and concerns which we hope will help to improve the service now and in the future.

While we are happy to continue doing this, however, we would also encourage you to send your own messages and comments using the Teme “Talk to us” card which can be found at SpArC reception.
If you would like us to raise any concerns on your behalf, or you want to share any of your comments or concerns with Trustees, please contact us via this page, send a message or email us at

Another big milestone for SpArC

The Council dropped a bombshell at a packed-out public meeting in Bishop’s Castle on Thursday 12 June. Mark Barrow, Executive Director of Place for Shropshire Council along with other senior council officers outlined the Council’s plans for the future of the SpArC centre:

  • The current operator has been served notice as from 31 March 2020.
  • The Centre will revert to being operated by Shropshire Council which already directly operates leisure centres at Much Wenlock, Idsall and Roman Road in Shrewsbury.
  • The jobs of all the staff at SpArC are guaranteed
  • The Council see SpArC as having the potential for significant development as a vibrant Centre supporting communities across SW Shropshire.

There were no further details, especially no financial plan, so much is still unknown. It is hoped that the business plan created by the SpArC charity will be of use in the undoubtedly complex process which will follow. However there was a most positive vibe throughout the meeting which bodes well for the future and the involvement of the local community in developing the centre.

The audience had the opportunity to ask questions of both Shropshire Council and the SpArC Trustees and did so with enthusiasm.

There was overwhelming support for the Theatre and the positive impact it has on the community with much praise for the accessible film screening held monthly.

We (the Council and the Charity) would really like to hear your views on how the Centre could develop in the future. A short questionnaire is available in the library, Town Hall and Enterprise House for returning by 24.6.19.
Please will you do this and share with any other clubs or groups that you know.

This is a vitally important meeting so PLEASE COME and tell all your friends and neighbours

The Plant Sale on the 4th of May raised £576!

Sport and Arts in the Community ( SpArC) SW Shropshire have a chance to win £1,000
The Save the SpArC campaign is asking for help to win £1,000 by encouraging people to nominate it for a chance to win £1,000 as part of specialist insurer Ecclesiastical’s Movement for Good awards.
It’s quick and easy to nominate SpArC online. Nominations are open from Tuesday 23 April to Friday 17 May and you vote at  All it takes is a click on the movement for good awards orange logo on the web site, click on nominate now, add your details and include the SpArC charity number which is 1170997.
Winners will be drawn at random and the more times SpArC is nominated the more chance it has of being selected.
If successful, the money will be used to support both sport and leisure in Bishop’s Castle and the SpArC theatre which is based on the same site.
The Save the SpArC charity is encouraging everyone to use their social media channels to ask people to vote to give the charity the best possible chance of winning.
Jean Shirley, Chair of Trustees said: “the local community has been hugely supportive of SpArC and I hope that that this will continue by nominating SpARC for this funding. It is very quick to do and if successful it means that we can continue to support school holiday activities in both the theatre and the leisure centre”.

Mark Hews, group chief executive at Ecclesiastical, said: “Trusted by our customers for over 130 years, we are proud to protect the irreplaceable – charities, schools, churches, homes and communities – right across the UK and abroad. As a company whose purpose is to contribute to the greater good of society, charitable giving is at the heart of our business. Our Movement for Good awards will help charities change lives for the better and we know that for many charities, £1,000 can make a real difference.”

The next save the SpArC fundraising event is a plant stall on Saturday May 4th in Church Street Bishop’s Castle. Donations of plants are welcomed.


  • What have we done?
    Our Communities have come a very long way since April 2015 when Shropshire Council (SC) announced that all subsidies to the Leisure Sector would be withdrawn by April 2017
  • The SpArC Charity was established in January 2017.
  • It has raised a total of £150k including donations from business and private donors, local councils, community funds and fund-raising activities.
  • Trustees drew up a sustainable Business Plan for the Centre based on opportunities identified in the report which we and SC commissioned from Energize, a local Sport & Leisure consultancy
  • SpArC was awarded Tier 1 Leisure Hub status by SC in July 2017
  • A soft market test in March 2018 confirmed sufficient interest from contractors to justify a full tender process for the management of SpArC.
  • Work commenced on the full tender in July 2018 with three trustees working closely with SC. It was halted in September.

2. What do we want?
We want to put in place a strategy to maintain and develop SpArC – in five areas – for the benefit of all members of the communities it serves, in a cost-effective manner.

3. How far have we got?
Activity has been inevitably curtailed by delays from the council and Teme Leisure, but progress includes:

  • Leisure and Sport SpArC staff themselves have maximized access to classes, insofar as this was within their power. We persuaded Teme to hire modern spinning bikes, and SC to install a new pool dehumidifier and refurbish the changing rooms.
  • Theatre and Arts We have a very successful Theatre & Arts facility. Our current wish is to support its financing by promoting Theatre Friends.
  • Health and welfare SpArC staff have substantially increased GP referrals. This has led to a need for more gym space, equipment and low-impact classes – which is currently blocked.
  • Education 60 young people have gained qualifications which made possible school holiday activities in both leisure and arts. They have also prevented pool closures through lack of staff. The pool currently provides swimming sessions to some 950 local school pupils.
  • Community Liaison Although current operators have distanced themselves from the community, sufficient other providers are interested in tendering to run the Centre in partnership on a “not-for-profit” basis.

What happens next?
Sparc is a gem which we have managed to save from closure; we must now develop its full potential for the benefit of our community.

Last week we were informed of a plan to allow the tender process to re-commence.
We need to replace income from fund-raising with more regular committed sources of income, which include:

  • a local council funding initiative
  • the launch of a 500-membership monthly lottery
  • an appeal to targeted private donors
  • These will help to fill the gap left by subsidy reductions which are likely to be phased in over the first five years of the new contract.
    Finally, we will invest in match-funding grants to finance cost saving initiatives including renewable energy.

On Tuesday 26th February the SWS Historical and Archaeological Society, along with the SpArC charity, held a fundraising event at Bishop’s Castle Community College. The theme of the evening was the hoard of gold coins discovered in a piano gifted to the college by a local couple.
Over £3,400 was raised, which will help to meet the challenges ahead arising from the expected reduction in the SC subsidy to Sparc and the need to invest in a renewable energy solution for the Centre.

The evening was divided into two distinct parts. The first was the reading of the winning stories from a writing competition held by the college. Students had been challenged to write a short story to explain how the coins originally found their way into the piano. Each year group was awarded a winner, three of which were read by the authors or their English teacher, Nicci Midgley. All the stories were entertaining and of a very high standard. Congratulations to all the winners!

The photo is of all students commended for their creative writing skills. The front row is made up of the winners and highly commended from each year group, from left to right: Olivia Jones, Caitlin Impey, Milli Roddick, Jasmine Davies, Ruby Clarke, Charlie Maskrey, Eleri Gittins, Megan Wooldridge, Reuben Thorley (Headteacher)
After a brief interval, David Preshous introduced the guest speaker Peter Reavill, the Finds Liaison Officer for the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme. His job was to assist the Coroner in trying to establish the history of the piano and the coins and to identify the descendants of the original owners. The story of the investigation, which ranged far and wide, was fascinating. The gold coins could be dated but were common currency in the heyday of the British Empire. Part of the packaging gave clues as to when they might have been stashed. However, despite every effort to identify the owner of the piano at the time the coins were hidden, the team drew a blank. Early history of the piano’s provenance came from the makers, but between 1906 and 1983 the piano disappears from view. The case is still open.
To quote David Preshous: “This was in every way a memorable evening for Bishop’s Castle and its community, bringing together the exciting story of the Gold in the Piano, the students’ imaginative stories about how it all began, and an opportunity for us all to contribute to the future success of both the College and the SpArC Leisure Centre. The large audience and its enthusiasm and generosity reflected the community spirit which makes our town such a special place.”

The Save The SpArC campaign is not just about saving sports and leisure facilities in Bishop’s Castle. It also includes supporting the SpArC Theatre, which runs separately within the SpArC leisure Centre, ensuring that it remains a vital part of our local community.
The Theatre’s aim is to ensure accessible, sustainable and high-quality arts opportunities for South West Shropshire in the form of Live Music, Live Theatre, Films, Satellite Screenings, Workshops, and Art Exhibitions.
The Theatre is run by a Manager and volunteers and managed by Enterprise South West Shropshire (ESWS) which is a Social Enterprise running a range of services in the area including the local Library, Drop-in IT Centre and event equipment hire.
The Theatre has staged 120 events attended by over 5500 people in the last 12 months.

If you would like to support the Theatre you can do so by becoming a
Friend of SpArC Theatre.
Please visit the website to find out more or speak to someone at the box office at SpArC or Enterprise House 01588 630321/ 638038 ( £15 individual or £25 for joint annual membership)


SpArC charity reflects on achievements during 2018
The Trustees of the charity set up to save the SpArC leisure centre in Bishop’s Castle have recently reflected on their achievements during 2018.
These include:

  • the attendance of 58 young people on training courses to gain recognised qualifications, which made possible school holiday activities for both leisure and theatre during the Easter, Summer and Autumn breaks and which were supported by the purchase of specialist sports equipment.
  • Training for Trustees on their roles and responsibilities as Trustees of a newly established charity
  • just under £10k raised through local community fund-raising activities, in addition to financial and other support received from town and parish councils,
  • the installation of a new pool dehumidifier and refurbishment of the changing rooms made possible by significant funding of £100k from Shropshire Council, and hanging of tiles designed and made by the local community.In addition, the Charity continues to lobby Shropshire Council to further develop the Centre, given its tier 1 status, for a sustainable future. It supported a successful soft market testing exercise in February, with the expectation of a full tender programme for SpArC by 2019.

Looking back, 2018 has been a busy year but also very rewarding. We are particularly pleased with the school holiday activities and the opportunities that have been made available for young people to achieve qualifications. However, we have considerably more to do to ensure the Centre’s long-term growth and stability.
We are very grateful for the support we receive from the local community and would like to thank individuals, local businesses and town and parish councils for all their help. We would like to thank SpArC staff in particular for their commitment to the Centre and its customers.

The next fundraising event in aid of Save the SpArC campaign will be a talk: “The Treasure in the Piano” on 26th February at Bishop’s Castle Community College. 

Thanks to all of you we’ve won £1,000 from the Ecclesiastical ’12 Days of Giving’  campaign. What a great start to the New Year!

We could do with some new faces on the fundraising committee –
and new ideas for events, maybe from the outlying villages and communities????
What about from the younger SpArC members- the sports communities – the gym users?
We had a blast at the Christmas Bingo, organised by Sam Angell, it was really nice to see some of the younger faces there.
How about some more of Sam’s age group coming up with ideas – the committee will be only too pleased to help and support anything you might come up with!

Another Bake-off? A fancy dress strong man competition?

Nice pic of mistletoe on the SpArC counter which raised £33 for the cause and caused a good deal of kissing round the town over the festive season! Thanks Liz, Dandelion and Harriet Carty.

Here is a poster advertising a talk on the history behind the treasure trove that was found in the piano that was given to the school last year – it’s a fascinating tale – do come. All proceeds in aid of SpArC

So 2018 draws to a close amidst political lunacy all round. Lets hope there’s better world news next year!
Meanwhile SpArC survives and thrives; membership is up, we’ve raised money for youth training and acitivities, swimming instructors, lifeguards and  equipment for every sort of sports and had wonderful support from the whole community – Here’s to next year!

The SpArC Christmas Bingo was a huge success this year.
It was organised by Sam Angell, who did a great job, huge thanks to him and to the usual crew of helpers; Ruth Houghton, Jean Shirley, Hugh, Lou and Ben Prole, and Kate Evans.
The prizes were fantastic and another huge thank you to all those who donated them.We made an astonishing £1,158 on the night and everyone had a thoroughly good time!

The Save the SpArC Campaign was awarded £3,096 by the CO-OP at Bishop’s Castle at an instore celebration event on Saturday 24th November. This is a great result and thanks to the Co-op and all the Bishops Castle members who contributed to the fund.
Our stalwart young fundraiser Ben Prole and Jan, the Co-op store manager, presenting a cheque for £3,096.19 to Trustees Ryan Davies and Reuben Thorley and fundraiser Lou Prole

Sport and Arts in the Community (SpArC) Job Vacancy
The above charity which was set up to save the leisure centre and theatre in Bishop’s Castle recognises that continued fundraising is essential to support the SpArC centre.  The charity is therefore planning to launch a 500 club and is seeking a competent and organised administrator to manage the monthly draw.
The role will include collecting and recording the receipt of monthly payments which will mainly be made by bank standing orders, reconciliation of payments received, ensuring that all paid tickets are entered into each monthly draw, managing the distribution of prizes and preparing the annual licence return.
The successful applicant will need to be organised and able to use both word and excel computer programmes. A good standard of numeracy is essential

This post is not salaried, however an Honorarium of £1000 ( pro rata) will be paid per annum agreed at each AGM of the charity.
Interested applicants should send a written application setting out their skills and previous experience to SpArC Trustees, C/0 Enterprise House, Station Street, Bishop’s Castle SY9 5AQ.

The closing date for applications is 5pm on Friday 12 October 2018. The interview date is to be arranged.

New Children’s Activity Equipment at SpArC
The Save the SpArC campaign and charity have recently purchased a selection of new equipment for use by children. Initially for use during the summer holidays the equipment will be available at SpArC for children’s activities and in the future available for hire.
The new equipment includes indoor footballs, a rounders development kit, a Unihoc set, Kwik cricket, bowls, dodgeballs and a rugby development kit
Jean Shirley, Chair of Trustees said “ We have been fortunate to receive funding through the Shropshire Star cash for communities programme and from the Co-Op specifically for school holiday activities so are very pleased to invest in this equipment for children to use at SpArC.”

For more information about holiday activities for young people and the school holiday swimming programme please see the Save the SpArC facebook page or call into the SpArC Centre and pick up a flyer.
The photograph shows   the “unihoc” hockey equipment being used by the holiday club on the outdoor allweather pitch at SpArC, under the supervision of two young men who recently trained as sports leaders. The outdoor pitch is also available to hire, details from SpArC reception.

Things have gone quiet in the last few months, because we have been updating our contacts to conform with the new data protection legislation. We now have a list of around 100 people who want to keep in touch with the campaign. In future, we are more likely to email, rather than Mailchimp, you.

1. Young Sports Leaders complete a 2-day course at SpArC.
We recently funded a level one course in Sports Leadership for potential young leaders from Bishops Castle Community College, local sports clubs and Teme Leisure. The 2-day course attracted 19 applicants who all completed the course.
We were delighted to respond to this request for training as local young people, many of whom are members of local football and cricket clubs, are our sports leaders of the future. Committing two days of their own time shows real enthusiasm to gain recognised sports qualifications. We hope this will help them in their future careers as well as providing extra capacity at SpArC.
We have First Aid training at level 2 on offer in the Autumn and also hope to follow up with a level 2 course in Sports Leadership. Applicants should contact SpArC reception, during normal opening hours to book a place. We are extremely grateful for this help in taking bookings, and hope that a valued and varied training offer will be something that we continue to commit to in the future, in recognition of the support given by our local community.

2. Anyone for play?
We have recently bought sports equipment for children’s use which includes:
Rugby and Rounders development kits
Bowls, Cricket and Unihoc sets
A Multicolour Activity Holdall
Indoor Tuftex footballs (10)
Molten Dodgeballs (6)
They are in use for the summer holiday programme in August. After that, we are very happy to loan them out, preferably for a charitable donation. We will let you know how in the autumn (when we have worked it out!)

  1. Thank you
    The Save the SpArC campaign continues to be well supported and we would like to thank everyone who has contributed in some way.  So far this year we have raised £219 from the Shropshire Star cash for communities competition, nearly £700 from the Co-op, over £400 from the plant stall, over £600 from the Mountain film evening, £400 from the “For a Song” event, £265 from Virtual RunnerUK and £253 from a raffle held at the Artists’ Open Studios weekend.  Thank you also to all the local businesses who kindly donate raffle prizes.
  2. Future events
  • SpArC is a Co-Op charity until November 2018 to support sport, art and leisure activities for children and young people during the holidays. If you haven’t already done so, please register your co-op card for SpArC so that 1% of your expenditure on co-op products will come our way.
  • We will have a stall at the Michaelmas fair, with a Grand Draw. We are selling draw booklets in advance – do please buy one at SpArC reception – as much as a gesture of solidarity as anything else. Donations of draw prizes are also welcome.
  • A Prize Bingo will be held at the end of the year – provisional date 30 November. Remember last year’s prizes? The date, venue and further details will be confirmed later.

In addition, BT mydonate is now live. Search for save our sparc or the charity number (1170997). It is very easy to use.

21st June 7pm
Next great fundraising evening will be the film ‘Mountain’ at SpArC on 21st June. Entry is free, with a donation to SpArC. T
There will be a variety of food available plus a plant stall outside and a raffle with some great prizes.  So, the film starts at 7 but come earlyand bring yer mates or meet up there, grab some great grub, see a great film and win a fantastic prize; or at least, take a beautiful plant home with you at the end of the evening.

Next fundraising meeting due on Monday 21st May – 6pm in the Three Tuns – please come and join us to offer any help and ideas you might have!

5th May 2018
Thank you to everyone who supported our plant sale on Saturday 5th May.
We had lots of plants donated to us including flowers, shrubs, herbs and vegetables which all proved popular with our many customers, so much so that we raised a massive £418.
A special thank you to Kate and Tim, for all their work in collecting and setting up the tables and then returning them afterwards.

For a Song
What a fabulous evening last Friday. Thanks to everyone who came along to support this event.
A massive thank you to Bishops Castle Primary School choir, The Men From Off and The Castle Voices for a great concert which raised £400 for the Save The SpArC campaign.The raffle also raised a further £98. Thank you to Bishop’s Castle Co-op, Churchstoke Co-op, Tuffins at Craven Arms, Carys Cakes of Clun, The National Trust at Powis Castle and Wyevale Garden Centre in Shrewsbury for the raffle prizes.
And finally a special thank you to Liz and the volunteers at Sparc Theatre
for organising it all and making it happen on the night .

Dan Lewis of Teme Leisure with SpArC charity trustees Kerry Brown, Heather Davies, Mandy Cooke and Geoff Grimes.
28 April 2018

Our Save the SpArC campaign and charity are  celebrating reaching their first £100k target.
Launched in March 2016, Save the SpArC campaign supporters have worked tirelessly to raise both awareness of the leisure centre and funding, and in 2 years, we have not only saved SpArC for at least the foreseeable future, we have raised the magnificent sum of One Hundred Thousand Pounds! (And had a lot of fun and put on some great events into the bargain!)
Jean Shirley, Chair of Trustees thanked everyone who helped reach this massive  goal.  “Without the hard work and support of local businesses, groups, volunteers and individuals in our communities as well as local Town and Parish Councils we would not have achieved this.   As we move forward with Shropshire Council in developing the Centre, we know we will need to maintain a regular income stream. We will roll out plans to raise additional regular funding locally to replace the significantly reduced funding available from Shropshire Council in the future.”
Trustee and Treasurer Graham Hemmings said; “This is a fantastic amount to have raised in just over 2 years and we are very grateful to everyone that has helped or contributed in whatever way.  We are working with local town and parish councils to secure regular revenue streams   as well as on encouraging  regular private donations, however large or small, which will attract gift aid thus increasing the value of the donation by 25%   Anyone interested in supporting the charity in this way can email or telephone 01588 638250.”
Ruth Houghton (secretary) added “The Save the SpArC campaign has not just been about raising funds some has been spent, For example, the charity has just offered a very successful Easter sports programme for children, using it as a model for a more ambitious summer programme which will introduce young children to a wide variety of sport, arts and leisure activities.
The Charity is also committed to increasing the skills of local young people by offering training for lifeguards, swimming instructors and sports leaders – which will also help to build more capacity at the Centre.  New Swimming pool lockers and a hairdryer have also been purchased”.

12 March 2018

Local artists support the re-opening of refurbished changing rooms

SpArC users and local community members who have attended Kate Evans’ tile painting workshops over the last few weeks will soon see their work on display at the SpArC centre in Bishop’s Castle.
Trustees of the Save the SpArC charity have an open evening planned for Friday 23rd March when the newly refurbished changing rooms will be officially re-opened, and the art work unveiled.
Kate Evans, ceramic artist and the driving force behind the tile project said: “The workshops have been enormous fun and have appealed to people of all ages and abilities, some lovely tile panels have been created and each one is quite unique. “
“It will be great to have them on permanent display at SpArC for everyone to enjoy”.
Kate also said; “not only have we produced some great work but the project also attracted some very generous sponsorship which we’re extremely grateful for. On behalf of everyone who took part, I want to say a huge thankyou to the donors.”
The open evening is on Friday 23rd March from 5.30pm to 6.30pm. The ribbon cutting ceremony for the changing rooms will be at 5.45pm and there will be a question and answer open forum at 6pm in the theatre.
Jean Shirley Chair of Trustees said: “this is an important milestone for SpArC as we have been campaigning hard for over 3 years for the changing rooms to be refurbished. There are also new lockers and a hairdryer, funded by the charity. Everyone is welcome to come along to see the end result, view all the fabulous tiles, and find out more about the work of the Save the SpArC charity, what we’ve achieved so far and our plans for the future.”

The pool will re-open for swimmers from Wednesday 14th and additional public swimming sessions will be available between 4pm & 6pm Monday to Thursday, up to the start of the Easter school holidays

News update about the Cash in the Community Campaign – They definitely aren’t doing the letters writing in for tokens this year, so to collect tokens, we’ll all have to beg, borrow or buy actual paper copies of the Star. If you get yours delivered, or buy it regularly, please collect all the tokens you can, from today until the end of the campaign. Then hand them in at SpArC or at Enterprise House and we’ll call for as many volunteers as we can to count them!


This feels like the first sunny day with a bit of real warmth in it so Happy Spring Everybody!

   We’ve been shortlisted again this year for the Shropshire Star Cash in the Community campaign.
This year, we are appealing for support in setting up a full-time holiday activity programme at SpArC for school-age children. We’re hoping to include all sorts of things, including sports, arts, drama, environmental – both indoors and out   Details have yet to be finalised but hopefully, it will be a full, fun and inspirational project and will be an ongoing programme.
So – I’m not certain yet about people writing letters to ask for tokens, as we did last year, but if anyone reading this gets  the Star regularly, start looking out for the tokens from the 1st of March and collect as many as you can and hand them in at SpArC, or at Enterprise House. Further updates about writing in will be posted asap.

Other news; the tile painting workshops are going well – we’ve done two already and two more will be held during the Arts Festival next weekend at the Public Hall, on Saturday and Sunday from 2-5pm. £12 per person. Children under ten must be accompanied by an adult. There are a few places left on both days, so book in now with
Here is a small selection of the panels produced so far – there are lots more to come!

As we all know, the swimming pool is now closed until mid-March while the changing rooms are being repaired (Hooray – At Last!). The tiles were originally going to be put up in the changing rooms but Kate has been told this won’t be possible because of the nature of the ‘white-rock’ wall covering being used, so the finished panels will go up along the corridors and in whatever spaces Gwyneth will allow us! In fact, this means that everyone will get to see them, not just the swimmers, so it’s a better solution really.

Also – Kirsty Rowston from the Co-op will be promoting their support for SpArC and their other charities at the Town Hall over the Arts Festival weekend, so pop in and sign up to support our local good causes!

At the latest trustee meeting on 31 Jan,
Geoff Grimes and Kerry Brown were welcomed as new trustees and Jean was re-appointed as chair, but other formal posts have been left until the next meeting, due to Richard’s sickness action. All wished to pass their thanks to Karen Bavastock, who has resigned due to ill health, particularly for her work with Energize and her liaison with users, and to wish her better health for the future.

Following the meeting on Collaboration with parish councils with the aim for all  the regional feeder councils, including Welsh ones, to contribute to SpArC funding, there was a lot of positive feedback and ways of organising regular contributions are being explored.

Kate Evans’s tile workshops are now well underway, and some lovely work has already been done – photos will follow soon! There are still places on the 2 workshops at the Public Hall on Sat 24th and Sun 25th of Feb, as well as the last one on 10th March at the Eco building at the school. contact Kate for bookings.

Shropshire council has finally confirmed that the repairs to the swimming pool changing rooms at SpArC will begin on Monday the 19th Feb
and the pool will be closed for 3 weeks from then until 9th of March. The pool is scheduled to reopen on Monday 12th March.
The refurbishment involves additional work to the original plan, to combat saturated flooring and a faulty stop tap in the ladies changing area. While this extends the project, it will hopefully encompass the root causes of what has been a very long-standing problem.
The process involves major repairs to the changing rooms to bring them up to standard and should result in transformed changing facilities; Shropshire Council have committed  approximately £100k to refurbishment works at SpArC, the first stage of which was replacing the dehumidifier, which  was completed before Christmas.
SpArC charity is paying for new lockers for the changing rooms when they re-open.
Although we know that the loss of the pool will be a problem for many, the contractor has stressed that they will work closely with the Centre to disrupt services as little as possible.   Everyone involved in the works would like to thank customers at SpArC, and in particular the pool users, for their patience whilst this work is undertaken.
A Council spokesperson has apologised for the delay in completing the changing room works and endorsed the Council’s future commitment to SpArC as a Tier One leisure provider.
In the meantime, we are very pleased to announce that three new swimming instructors are ready to work and volunteer at SpArC in Bishop’s Castle after completing  their ASA level I Swimming Assistant qualification, which was funded by us.  This qualification increases the much-needed number of swimming qualified staff at SpArC and provides for additional swimming capacity.
Jean Shirley, Chair of Sparc Trustees says: “We are committed to offering sports training qualifications to local people, which not only improves their skills and knowledge but also builds additional capacity at SpArC.  One of the key roles of our charity is to raise the skill levels and employment prospects of the local workforce and volunteers, and we feel that this makes a positive start.

The photograph shows (left to right) Feryn Walmsley, George Emerson and Katie Appleby

Collaboration with parish councils – The aim is for all  the regional feeder councils, including Welsh ones, to contribute to SpArC funding. We need SpArC members and users to encourage their councils to vote for SpArC revenue funding, before January 24 when we will hold an open evening for all local parish councils.

Business plan and executive summary – We now have both. Anyone wishing for the summary can get it by emailing

Tile painting workshops to decorate the new changing rooms at the SpArC Swimming Pool.   The theme will be water/swimming/leisure. (surprise surprise!)
Workshops will be held at the Eco building at the Community College (to be confirmed)
on Saturday 27th Jan & Saturday 10th Feb from 2 – 5pm

There will be two further workshops at the Public Hall on Station St on 24th and 25th Feb, as part of the February Arts Festival, again from 2 – 5pm

 The final workshop will be held at the Eco building at the Community College on
10th March, from 2-5pm.
All workshops will cost £12 per person, which includes up to 6 tiles per person plus all tuition, materials and firing.
There is a minimum age of 10 years but younger participants can be included by arrangement if accompanied by an adult.
Places are limited so book early – all enquiries to Kate 01588638762 –
or use the contact us page on this website

Save the SpArC has been chosen as one of three local charities to be supported by Bishop’s Castle Co-op over the next  year.  If you shop at the Co-op,  please consider nominating SpArC to receive a contribution every time you shop and use your Co-op members card?
With Christmas shopping to be done, a few minutes of your time spent now applying for and registering a  Co-op card would mean that 1% of all your Christmas shopping spend would raise funds for SpArC.
You can apply for a Co-op card in-store and register to support SpArC online at

Training opportunities
The SpArC Charity has already begun to fund training for new lifeguards and is keen to support local people to achieve new sports-related skills and qualifications.  To kick this off anyone interested in becoming a football coach and delivering football coaching at SpArC is asked to register their interest in obtaining a coaching qualification by using the contact page on this website or by emailing
The SpArC Charity would also like to hear from any parents with youngsters who love football.  Football coaching for parents interested in supporting their children and other young people to play football may be available.

Sports massage on offer at SpArC
Sports massage and holistic therapy treatments are now available at SpArC on Wednesday  evenings.  Jenny Hudson, a fully  qualified Sports and Holistic Massage Therapist is offering massage and a range of holistic therapies including Swedish body massage; Indian Head massage; Ayurvedic Facial massage and  Reiki.
Jean Shirley, Chair of Trustees said “It’s great news to have this new service on offer at SpArC. We really hope it takes off and wish Jenny every success with her new venture.” Currently available by appointment only, this new offer is for SpArC members and visitors. Anyone interested in trying it should contact Jenny Hudson on 07868087981or visit her web site

New Spin Bikes for SpArC

Gym members try out the new Spin bikes

SpArC Charity trustees  are pleased to confirm that Teme Leisure have invested  over £20k in SpArC  through the purchase of 16 new Spin Bikes.
Trustee Kevin Bavastock, a keen cyclist, says “ this investment by Teme Leisure is warmly welcomed by the trustees and SpArC users. We very much hope this will be the start of a continuous program of investment to improve the facilities available”
Nick Cummins, Chair of Teme Leisure said: “We are committed to working with the new Trustees of the SpArC charity and the community in developing services in the centre. I am really pleased we have been able to invest in this new equipment to improve the classes on offer”.  Spin classes are available at SpArC on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.

500 Club
We want to start a ‘500 Club’ lottery scheme to raise a regular income for the SpArC charity.  The idea is to recruit up to 500 people to pay a fixed sum of £2 a week (£8 a month) by direct debit or standing order, raising an annual revenue of approx £52000, of which, 1/2 would go to SpArC and 1/2 be paid out for prizes in the form of a monthly draw and a jackpot Christmas draw.  We may not get the full 500 to start with but can get going with just 200 – so if you are interested, please add you details on our contact page and we’ll give you more details and information. (we do not share any of this information with any other organisations)