A BLOSSOMING group that teaches youngsters lifesaving skills by utilising Sidmouth’s seafront setting has been handed its first home.

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Leaders of Sidmouth Junior Surf Life Saving Club say landing the lease for The Arches, on the Esplanade, will help them double its membership.

They were officially given the keys to the venue thisTweek. It had previously been utilised by Sidmouth Youth Trust for three years but the organisation ended its use in August due to dwindling numbers and funds.

Sidmouth Town Council, which owns the premises, expressed delight that it would be used by young people once again.

Life Saving club chairman Dave Manley said youngsters have been given the chance to enjoy the water in a safe environment and gain an education in safety and the chance to develop volunteering experience and employment opportunities.

The club’s first year in 2013 saw it net 45 members, an equal mix of boys and girls aged from eight to 16, and stage 520 participation sessions. Ten volunteers also signed up and all the members have gained junior lifeguard awards.

Manley said that the aim for 2104 was to double club membership, increase participation by 200 per cent, develop a competitive squad and host and take part in competitions.

“The Arches provides us with a fantastic focal point – it’s a perfect location,” he said.

Town councillors unanimously agreed to the venue’s new use at a meeting on Monday.

“This is something that’s really needed,” said Councillor Mary Jolly – who used to surf herself – of the club.

Cllr Geoff Chamberlain added: “This represents a tremendous use of The Arches. The town council can be proud of presenting it for this sort of facility.”

Cllr Ann Liverton said Sidmouth Youth Trust would be pleased to know The Arches’ use was remaining for young people and that they were being offered ‘positive activities’.

Cllr Chris Wale said the club’s purpose and the venue ‘fits like a glove’.


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