FAMILIES and schools that sail at Dinton Pastures are welcoming the plans for a new activity centre.
Since it’s opening the number of visitors to the centre have increased, with many local children learning new skills on the water.
Local resident Charlotte Street explained how her daughter benefits from the centre.
“Imogen started using the centre when she was of primary school age,” said Ms Street. “She used to go on week-long courses during the holidays for kayaking.
“By about age 12/13 she grew out of what she could do there because they have limited resources at the centre, so she started going elsewhere. But she volunteered at Dinton to help run the clubs for the younger children.
“I think the new centre is fantastic. Imogen has always been involved in kayaking and without Dinton, she never would have developed this sport.
“At secondary school, you’re limited to the sports you can do onsite, so it’s great that places like Dinton can offer such a range of sporting activities that schools can’t.”
Irene Inskip also explained how her son Luke had developed important skills at the centre: “We’ve lived in Hurst for 20 years, and my son Luke had sailing lessons there every week when he was younger.
“Now he’s the one doing the training.
“He’s only 15 and he’s working with the general public, he’s learnt how to teach, do first aid and he drives the safety boat on the lake so he’s got to be very responsible.
Ms Inskip added: “We really have only good things to say about the new centre. It will give some prestige to the activity centre that’s really a glorified Portakabin at the moment.
“For the people around here, it really is the most amazing resource. We’re not near the sea in Berkshire so where else would young people learn to sail and do watersports.
“Without Dinton, Luke never would have developed the skills he has.
“The new centre will match the demand for the activities, and now be in relation to the number of people it serves.”
The plans for the new centre include separate changing rooms for school groups — something that is currently posing a safeguarding issue.
Tanya Van Der Werff, head of the Navy section of the Combined Cadet Force (CCF) for Reading Bluecoat Boys School, brings 36 children down to the centre to sail every week.
She explained how the new facilities will benefit the schoolchildren:
“Every week I bring lots of the boys down from the school to learn to sail. This year I also have three girls who have joined CCF.
“The boys don’t all fit in the changing rooms so half of them have to change in the women’s changing rooms. This then means the girls have to change in the loo.
“Anybody could walk in on them which isn’t ideal.
“The facilities are basic but adequate, and it’s too crowded for them all to shower at the end of the session.”
She added: “The new centre looks really smart. With the numbers coming through, they need somewhere bigger and more flexible.
“People have higher expectations of what spaces can offer now, and the current centre isn’t helping them to be the best they can be.
“Dinton is such a great environment for young people to let off a bit of steam. I’m a huge believer in outdoor learning, especially for mental wellbeing.
“We’ve been sailing at Dinton for over 30 years and the new centre will only make it better.”
Plans for the new activity centre were announced last month and since then, have received hordes of feedback from local residents, with a busy consultation evening on Friday, November 15.
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