SPORTING opportunities in Cheshire were celebrated with a visit from the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on Thursday – who also gave a ringing endorsement to the Guardian’s own Pedal Power Campaign.
Maria Miller MP and Weaver Vale MP Graham Evans visited Sport Cheshire at Cheshire FA’s headquarters, in Moss Farm, to find out more about work in the county to get more people more active more often.
On the day Mrs Miller, also Minister for Women and Equalties, launched Sport Cheshire’s new £40,000 fund to encourage more women and girls to get more active.
“What I was really interested about in terms of coming here today was to find out about the work done to support women and families to get more involved in sport,” she said.
“We have to understand that people lead busy lives and sport needs to fit into that – and women are always juggling so many different things.”
She spoke to Sport Cheshire about its work with its partners, including Sport England and the three local authorities across Cheshire and Warrington, to ensure funding has the biggest impact on residents.
Anne Boyd, chief executive of Sport Cheshire, said: “More than £100m has been invested in new sports facilities in recent years by the three local authorities, providing fantastic opportunities for people to get active.
“We have used our local intelligence and insight to ensure investment on behalf of Sport England and other partners has tackled a number of the inequalities and barriers to getting active.”
Representatives from Sport Cheshire were joined during the visit by Simon Gerrard, chief executive of Chehsire FA, Ben Williams, Sport England’s strategic lead for local relationships, Peter Haymes, British Cycling’s north west recreation manager, Jo Farwell, a Breeze champion from Helsby, and Guardian chief reporter Gina Bebbington, who spoke to Mrs Miller about the Pedal Power campaign.
“The reason I enjoy cycling is that it’s something I can do with my children,” said Mrs Miller.
“The first time I went out I had my little one in a baby seat on the back and he’s now 11.
“Cycling is something you can do with the whole family and it’s good for your health and wellbeing.
“It gets you out in the countryside and in a beautiful part of the world like Cheshire it’s no wonder that it’s incredibly popular.
“The other great thing about cycling is that you can do it when you want to – you are in control.
“I’m absolutely convinced that by having the sorts of campaigns like Pedal Power you can really get more people to think about how they can get a little bit more active, and that can have a long term impact on people’s health.”