Our 2020 crowdfunding campaigns were generously supported by many of the local community, which enabled us reinstate the electricity and replace/insulate the ceiling. With the New Year well underway, we’re asking you to please help us again. With your help, we can tackle the damp and strengthen the floor, completing the infrastructure element of our project.
How your pledge will help
This new CrowdFunding campaign can be match-funded pound for pound. So please make your pledge now to help us secure this fabulous opportunity – AND DOUBLE YOUR MONEY!
What we have achieved so far...
- Reinstated electricity to the site, and carried out a full wiring test
- Repaired roof tiles and guttering
- Repointed some of the brickwork
- Repaired, insulated and decorated the church ceiling - this was a big job as it is very high
- Levelled the floor to ensure access for all
- Decorated the exterior of the building - the front door looks especially inviting
- Cleared many years undergrowth around the car park to accommodate more cars
- Begun work on new signage - incorporating our lovely Chapel Gym logo
- Achieved phenomenal support from the community.
Why a gym?
Seeing as there isn’t currently a gym in the village, the demand for one is huge. Because of this, we’ve received massive local support! Many volunteers have helped us with jobs that don’t need to be done professionally, and many local firms have kindly provided their services on a cost only basis. In this way we’re striving to keep our costs to a minimum.
What are the aims of the gym?
- To give an empty Victorian church building (built 1876), near the village centre, a new lease of life
- To convert it into a not-for-profit community gym and fitness centre, accessible and affordable for all, whatever their income or circumstances.
- To inspire a more active lifestyle amongst people of all ages and backgrounds in the village. To improve their physical health and make users more resistant to health challenges such as Covid-19.
- To offer a place for community support and new friendships. For some to combat isolation and improve self-confidence and resilience. In this way to help with mental and emotional health and foster a sense of wellbeing.
- To help our village to thrive.
The need for a gym
Our village (population 6,500) is by southeast standards rural, a diverse community with private and council housing. We have a limited, daytime only, bus service to nearby towns, limiting access to nearby gyms.
With this in mind, and a 2018 survey showing around two thirds of adults men were either obese or overweight, a gym in the village would be hugley beneficial.
We ran a survey and open days in 2018 to find the level of support for a community gym, which showed overwhelming backing. Gyms in nearby towns are very expensive (from £25 - £80 a month). People shared that they couldn’t afford it, they were hard to get to, or finding time was difficult. The Chapel Gym will be on most people’s doorstep and easily reached on foot or by bicycle, reducing carbon emissions.
The gym will have equipment and an exercise space for a variety of classes, suitable for a wide range of people. It will be not-for-profit, raising only enough to cover maintenance of the site and staffing, some of which will be by volunteers.
A Community project
This is a joint venture between the United Reformed Church and the community. The building is owned by the church who have worshipped elsewhere for 8 years. The gym will initially have a ten-year lease. We are creating a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) to manage the site and the gym. A management Committee has been formed.
The project has lots of grassroots involvement. A first crowdfunding campaign raised £5000 in three weeks. Over 400 took part in a poll to choose the name “The Chapel Gym”. Later in 2020 we had another Crowdfunding campaign that reached £5,000 in just 8 days and then was Match Funded by M&S Energy, Sport England and Herts Innovation Fund so this swelled the final proceeds to more than £21,000.
We have a gym manager working with us, with 25 years’ experience in the industry, who lives in the village. We also have County, District and Parish Councillors, the chairs of our Preservation Society and U3A, a local businesswoman, a fitness instructor and residents with marketing and fundraising experience. We can call on others with expert skills as needed, e.g. an architect, risk assessment specialist.
What we’re doing
So far, as well as the electricity being reconnected, urgent groundwork has been carried out and we have begun to redecorate the exterior. You may have noticed the newly painted front door – doesn’t it look magnificent?! As you will see from the video, we are in the process of repairing and insulating the ceiling.
Next up we need to resolve some damp issues and strengthen the floor. Then we can start to install heating and a toilet, clean and decorate the interior, as well as pay the legal costs associated with setting up the gym.
Once these have been sorted, we can do the really exciting bits - purchase the gym equipment, engage staff and volunteers to run the gym and put up the signs to show we’re in business!
The details of the work
We are looking for further funding towards:
- Strengthening of floor £6,000
- Resolving damp £9,000
We will then move to the final phase of our project and raise money for the equipment.
How we want to achieve this
We’re taking great care to preserve the character of the building, maintaining the basic layout and protecting the stained glass windows.
It’s also very important to us that the gym is available to everyone, whatever their circumstances. The gym will be on one level with full wheelchair access. It will be not-for-profit and affordable to all, with any excess funds used to further redevelop the site including the church hall.
- Improved physical fitness, more active lifestyle, better health for many in the community
- A new community facility in Wheathampstead
- A historic building saved from demolition and put to new use.
How much we’ve raised so far
The money we have raised so far, including the last crowdfunding campaign, comes to £34,900. In addition, many suppliers have provided their services for free or at discounted rates, saving us £24,500.
As you’ll see we have some fantastic rewards open to everyone who pledges at least £5. We have had amazing support from local businesses who have donated these rewards - like Scoop Nutrition, Flowers by Catherine, Risk Reports and The Brewhouse. We are very appreciative of their support and feel sure you will value their generosity.
Please help us to succeed.
We will spend every penny raised on improving the building so that it can be used as a gym.
We are determined to make this project successful so we all have the opportunity to improve our physical fitness and lead a more active lifestyle, while a historic building will be saved from demolition and given a new lease of life.
Thank you so much for supporting the Chapel Gym project – we are so grateful.