GAMES: The Derbyshire Village Games project, developed by the not-for-profit Community Sports Trust, has received the Big Society award from the Prime Minister for invigorating grassroots sport across rural Derbyshire and keeping the Olympic spirit alive in their communities.

The vision for the project came from two Derbyshire women, Hayley Lever and Andrea Kemp, who ran sports schemes in their local communities of Chinley and Grindleford. An experienced sports consultant, Hayley felt a lot more could be done across the county to get people of all ages more active.

Inspired by the success of their local schemes and combined with the enthusiasm of local people to get more active, the pair secured funding to employ a team of qualified ‘Village Games’ coordinators to work closely with the six rural district councils of Derbyshire: High Peak, Derbyshire Dales, Amber Valley, South Derbyshire, North East Derbyshire and Bolsover District.

The aim was to find out what local people wanted and help them set up accessible and affordable activities and events, using local facilities, such as Women’s Institute halls and community centres. Armed with that community insight the coordinators set about recruiting coaches, training volunteers, getting funding and publicising activities.

Since 2010, Derbyshire Village Games has:

Helped develop sporting communities in more than 100 villages; established more than 200 local clubs, classes and activities; recruited 1,145 coaches, tripling its three-year target of 393; engaged 1,381 volunteers, tripling its three-year target of 337; supported nearly 200 local events including 60 ‘Community Games’ Olympic themed events like sports fun days, torch relay celebrations and Olympics; nearly doubled its three-year throughput target with 222,564 attendances.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “I’m delighted to give the Derbyshire Village Games Project a well-deserved Big Society Award for their tireless work in boosting participation sport across their local area. Through their inter-village competitions, festivals and events they’ve also been able to bring together people from different communities in the region together in a positive and healthy way.

“It’s organisations like the Project that will make the Olympic and Paralympic games endure for countless generations to come and I wish them every success in the future.”

CST founder board member, Hayley Lever (now director of Derbyshire Sport), said: “It’s a huge honour to receive this award. It’s been incredible to be able to harness the excitement in the run up to London 2012 and to continue to build on the inspiration of Team GB’s success at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

“Our achievements reflect not just the hard work of our team and the support of our partners but above all the enthusiasm and dedication of volunteers and leaders in villages all over Derbyshire.”

“It’s been amazing to see how the project has acted as a catalyst, strengthening community spirit, helping people have fun and get fitter.”

“People want to become more active. We have found that if activities are developed locally, fit people’s varied lifestyles, are friendly and encourage all abilities, they are well supported.”

Since the games and to ensure the spirit of 2012 stays alive in Derbyshire, over the past year the team has worked closely with the ‘Community Games’ programme, funded by the Cabinet Office’s Social Action Fund, to help more than 60 local communities celebrate London 2012 including an Olympic Opening Ceremony Family Day at Carsington in the Derbyshire Dales and an ‘Alternative Youth Olympics’ with six youth groups in South Derbyshire.

Funding and management support came from local District, Borough and County Councils, Sport England and the National Lottery, NHS Derbyshire County, Derbyshire Sport and the Peak District National Park Authority.