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Thursday, 23 October 2014

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Sunsoaked sport festival in Carlisle draws the crowds

People from all over Cumbria flocked to Carlisle’s Sheepmount stadium to enjoy the county’s very own Festival of Sport.

Carlisle sport festival photo
Joseph and Harry Cairns with Nicky Harper and sons Max and Jude

In glorious sunshine, the event did precisely what it was designed to do – promote, encourage, and celebrate the huge variety of sport that is on offer across Cumbria and in Carlisle in particular.

Children were among the most enthusiastic, with many trying out for the very first time sports they have only ever seen on TV.

The event also brought the thrilling climax of The Patriot Games, a sporting tournament and celebration spearheaded by our sister weekly newspaper – part of the build-up to the 200th anniversary of The Carlisle Patriot, the newspaper that evolved into The Cumberland News.

Yesterday’s event saw a huge range of sports on offer, including golf, rugby, BMX biking, American Football, and wheelchair sports.

There to try out the latter were Rob and Shelly Wall, from Abbeytown, who wanted to show their two-year-old son Noah that disability does not have to exclude you from enjoying sport.

Shelly, 42, explained that Noah is paralysed from the chest down and suffers hydrocephalus and spina bifida – yet his family are determined to help him flourish.

They used the event to introduce their son to the Cumbria Wheelchair Sports Club, making him their current youngest member.

“Just because he’s in a wheelchair it doesn’t mean that the world can not be his oyster,” said Shelly. “We want him to be as independent as he can be and it’s great to know there’s somewhere local where he can do this.”

Also thrilled to be at the event was eight-year-old Sammy Ryden, who was there with parents Alison, 46, and Andrew, 48.

She is already into karate, but the festival gave her a chance to try out boxing.

One of the less well known sports represented yesterday was Carlisle’s very own American Football outfit – The Sentinels, who train at Carlisle Rugby Club and are currently looking for players.

“The adrenalin buzz you get from this is unreal,” said the team’s head coach Chris Bond, who described the sport as being like “human chess”.

Carlisle City Council leader Colin Glover said the festival had clearly done what it was designed to do.

“It’s been fantastic,” he said. “I’ve seen lots of families trying out new sports. Getting people active is a real priority for us. With the Commonwealth Games coming up, we wanted people to do more than just watch sport on TV. Just as with the Olympics, we wanted there to be a legacy.

“There are lots of sporting clubs around the city and Cumbria, and this event was a chance for them to show people what they can offer.”

The event has been supported by a range of partners, including CN Events, Carlisle City Council, Carlisle Leisure Limited, Cumbrian Sport and Physical Activity Alliance Foundation (SPAA) and Active Cumbria. It has also been supported by Lottery funding through Sport England.

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