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Suffolk water sports group threat

PUBLISHED: 10:31 13 June 2011

Sailing being taught at a Suffolk Water Sports Association event.

Sailing being taught at a Suffolk Water Sports Association event.

Archant

THE future of an organisation that introduces hundreds of youngsters in Suffolk to water sports each year is in doubt.

The Suffolk Water Sports Association (SWSA) teaches sailing, canoeing, wind surfing and other aquatic activities to schools and youth groups. It operates water sports centres in and around Woodbridge, Lowestoft, Ipswich, and at Alton Water.

Staffed mainly by volunteer instructors, its low running costs have been passed on to its clients as affordable course fees. However, it is now expected that all council support to the 50-year-old organisation will be withdrawn in April 2012, leaving the SWSA needing to find new ways of funding its activities.

“It’s a challenge for us to meet,” said Stuart Harrington-Rutterford, water sports manager for the south of Suffolk, “but it’s achievable.”

SWSA is said to be considering a range of options for tackling its impending budget shortfall, including private sponsorship.

In addition to finding new sources of funding, it must also find new providers for essential services, such as buildings maintenance, that until now were carried out by council employees.

A county council spokesman said: “We made SWSA aware of this last year – and have since then provided substantial support to the organisation in order to help them develop a new operating structure. We are confident that their fantastic work will continue.”

Mr Harrington-Rutterford added: “We are calling on former students and former volunteers, and trying to get them involved again to help us through this time.”

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