The London Marathon Charitable Trust: Inspiring Activity

The Virgin Money London Marathon is the world’s largest annual one-day fundraising event. Every one of the more than 40,000 runners who completes the annual 26.2-mile race in the capital not only plays a part in the greatest marathon in the world, but also contributes to the future of sports and recreation in London and beyond.

Individual London Marathon participants have supported thousands of charitable causes over the years, but all the runners in the race also support The London Marathon Charitable Trust (The Trust).

Created by Chris Brasher and John Disley, the founders of the London Marathon, The Trust’s mission is to support projects that encourage and support all members of the local community to become and remain physically active. After costs, the surplus from the London Marathon is gifted to The Trust.

Since the London Marathon started in 1981, more than £70 million has been allocated by The Trust to more than 1,250 recreational projects in London and beyond. Below are just a few examples of initiatives to have benefited from grants from The Trust in 2017 and 2018.

Finsbury Park Athletics Track

None

In 2010, the former Finsbury Park Athletics Track was earmarked for closure by Haringey Council. Today, thanks to a £608,000 grant from The Trust, a new high-quality athletics track and outdoor facilities are inspiring local residents to get up and get active – and in the process are helping to revitalise the fortunes of the Finsbury Park Sports Partnership, which is responsible for the venue.

The project began in 2010 when Haringey Council threatened to close the track. At the time, local clubs rallied together to form Finsbury Park Sports Partnership (FPSP) and signed a 25-year lease with the council. Major funding from The Trust, as well as grants from Sport England and the Mayor’s Fund for London, enabled FPSP to completely refurbish the sports ground.    

After eight years of hard work by FPSP, renovation works were completed in late 2017, and now hundreds of people are welcomed to the track each week to take part in a variety of activities for all levels of experience and ability. The activites are offered by FPSP members London Heathside Athletics, alongside the London Blitz American football team, the Dynamic Sports Academy and Access to Sport charity. The track also hosts school sports days across the London boroughs of Hackney, Haringey and Islington.

“Everyone involved has worked really hard to create an inspiring place and welcoming atmosphere, so it’s wonderful to see local adults and school children getting excited to give sport a go and reaping the benefits of physical activity,” says Donna Fraser, World Championships 400m bronze medallist and member of the Board of The Trust.

Chairman of London Heathside Athletics, Jerry Odlin, agrees, saying the positive impacts of the project are already evident at the club.

“There has been a complete culture shift,” says Odlin. “Our members are able to train more and have gone on to achieve outstanding results.

“In April our women’s team became the England and British Champions at the2018 Virgin Money London Marathon and last month we hosted and won the Middlesex Young Athletes league match for the first time.

“The club is also growing as a result,” continues Odlin. “We are reallyestablishing ourselves on the athletics circuit in London.

“Most importantly, more and more people are getting involved in an inspiring sports partnership and are feeling the physical and mental benefits of activity.”

Marlborough Sports Garden

None

Just off Borough High Street, near London’s famous Borough Market, a free public open space for sport has opened having been awarded a £145,000 grant from The Trust.

Marlborough Sports Garden in central London’s Southwark features a wide range of high-quality sporting facilities including a full-sized beach volleyball court, table tennis tables, paved tennis courts, a large sandpit, trampoline park, basketball courts, wall ball and more.

The space, which was officially opened by Team GB Olympic diver Tom Daley in May 2018, aims to offer accessible and affordable opportunities for people to play sport and get involved in physical activity. Marlborough Sports Garden is one of the only spaces in the area designed for younger children to practise sports.

“Space is vital,” says Sarah Ridley, Chief Grants Officer for The Trust. “If you want to be active then you need to have somewhere to do it. Sadly, in much of London there aren’t many dedicated areas where young children can be active.

“This is a great space. It’s one of the largest areas around here for kids to really burn off some energy, participate in team sports and learn new skills. These things are so important. If you’re not active in your early youth then the chances of you being active later in life are diminished.”

Active Spaces

None

The Trust’s work to help protect open spaces and increase participation in physical activity stretches well beyond the capital too.

In partnership with the Fields in Trust charity, The Trust has launched the Active Spaces programme, which will secure 50 new protected sites across the UK for future generations to use and enjoy.

Cregagh Green in east Belfast was the first such project to be supported by The Trust as part of the Active Spaces programme. A grant has been awarded to help promote community participation in the space where Northern Ireland football legend George Best first kicked a ball as a young boy.

A public space at Lynnsport in Kings Lynn, West Norfolk, has also been protected by the Active Spaces programme, with a grant from The Trust also going to the Come Alive North Lynn family fitness programme. The initiative focuses on increasing opportunities for physical activity for families, women and young people in the North Lynn area who live a sedentary, inactive lifestyle.

“Since 1981 The Trust has funded a huge range of projects which have inspired millions of people to get active,” says Ridley. “Delivered in partnership with Fields in Trust, Active Places is our first nationwide funding initiative.

“It’s great to see Cregagh Green in Belfast and Lynnsport in Kings Lynn join the long list of inspiring projects which will be permanently protected through funding from The Trust, enabling local people to enjoy the benefits of physical activity into the future.”