Walsham le Willows Community Gym

by Samantha Shepherd in Bury Saint Edmunds, Suffolk, United Kingdom

We did it
On 17th February 2023 we successfully raised £10,395 ( + est. £1277.50 Gift Aid ) with 41 supporters in 42 days

We at Walsham sports club and Neil Evans Fitness are fundraising for the new Walsham-le-Willows Community Gym building.

by Samantha Shepherd in Bury Saint Edmunds, Suffolk, United Kingdom

 New stretch target

Wow! If we raise the amount to purchase the gym building, then maybe we can stretch to some more donations to allow the total completion of the gym set up too? This would allow us to buy some of the equipment needed.

Who are we?

We are Walsham Le Willows Sports Club and Neil Evans Fitness and together we are building a community gym to serve the local community but we need some more help and support to complete the project. 

We believe it will be so much more than just a gym. It will be a Hub to get locals physically fit, healthy, combat loneliness, improve mental and emotional wellbeing, bring people of all ages across the community together and give locals access to a site that they can be proud of and call their own.  

This is especially important having lived through the Covid pandemic and we all understand the importance of social interactions and the benefits of exercise on our physical and mental health.

Bring people together to improve physical and mental health. 

Being in such a rural area with poor transport connections many local people just simply can not access a gym. The community gym will change this, allowing locals of all ages to have access to a state of the art, clean and safe area to exercise and socialise. Improving physical, mental and emotional health. 

Walsham sports club Chairman, Mike Powles, can see this as another activity that will fully embed itself with our ethos of providing facilities and activities for people of all ages and abilities from our Little Willows football starting at 4 years old to Walking Football, Walking Netball and chair based fitness with people in their eighties taking part in. 

Help the local area to succeed 

Not only will the gym have memberships for the community but will actually engage with local schools and sports clubs for them to use providing much needed specialist equipment and training facilities. 

It will also be available to hire for other local professionals, such as Yoga and Pilates instructors. This giving other companies a safe and professional place to grow their business. The community gym with help to drive sustainable growth and aspiration within the community; creating opportunities through trade and skills.


Be a Hub and catalyst for change 

We want the community gym to be a safe, affordable and accessible place where people can: 

  • Improve their physical health 

  • Make friends 

  • Improve their self confidence 

  • Learn new skills 

  • Improve their mental and emotional wellbeing 

  • Grow their business 

  • Educate themselves 

  • Lead fuller and more enriched life's 

  • Smile and laugh


How we’ll spend the money raised

The money raised will allow us to purchase the unit as shown in the drawing below, as we have already been granted planning permission. Neil Evans Fitness will then complete the set up by fitting it out with the training equipment needed. 


  • The money raised will cover the cost of the units foundations and electric connections too. The unit will be placed on the field where Neil Evans holds his bootcamp training sessions, as shown in the photo. This allows the new gym members to have parking outside. These funds will also allow us to lay the infrastructure needed for the site, the pathway and wheelchair accessible entrance too. We will decorate and wire internally and fit the key fob entrance system.
  • The community gym would be a hub for locals to workout and socialise in a safe and friendly environment.
  • The ethos and goal of the community gym is to engage with local people and promote health and fitness and offer the space, tools and knowledge to do this.
  • Once a member has signed up they will have a full gym induction. This will include how to use all the equipment, location of the fire exits, location of first aid kit and description of all risks. All new members will also sign an informed consent form which will be kept on file.
  • Once the induction is done they can then book into use the gym. This will be done via an app. Members can book hour long slots in the gym and have unlimited access, which will accommodate 5-6 members in the gym at one time. This allows access to all the equipment, no waiting to use kit and that the gym doesn’t get overcrowded allowing for a better user experience.
  • The goal is to have 24/7 access via a secure card/fob entry system.

We will be standing united with Birmingham 2022!

We want to inspire, engage and connect with the community to realise their full potential and live happier, healthier lives, and through this, we share the core values of the Birmingham Commonwealth games that saw so many people reach their sporting potential and win gold medals for Britain in their home country! What an honour. These athletes all started somewhere and we hope we can aid some of the next generation of gold medal winners at the community gym.

Why are we crowdfunding? 

We are crowdfunding to enable us to purchase the container unit which will be the self-contained, gym building and to engage with the local community, schools and businesses in an effort to promote fitness and health and offer the tools and resources to do this.


Bootcamps have been hugely successful at Walsham and can range from 10 people to over 20 depending on the time of year. It is much more about getting people moving, having fun, making friends and all bootcamp members come from the local community. These have turned into a real social event now, as we don't just meet at bootcamps, we have summer and Christmas social events and really look out for each other. 

Neil strongly believes that the bootcamps local community ethos and support in the local community can be translated and used in the proposed gym and further Walsham sports club community projects too.

A quote from one of Neil's bootcamp and PT clients:

"Having a local gym where I could carry on with PT sessions with Neil would be a huge help for me as the location will be more accessible than driving into town, reducing my travelling and it will fit in with my busy work and family life. It will be a great benefit for the local community of all ages, as well as the future generations to come. I believe that covid had such an impact on people's mental health and more of us found the important of exercise, being outdoors and being part of a community. Having a local gym will be a fantastic asset to people in and around Walsham and I hope more and more locals can benefit, as I have, from Neil’s hard work and dedication to their fitness and wellbeing."


Some background on Neil Evans Fitness

Neil Evans Fitness has been running for 4 years now. He currently is a freelance PT out of Unit 1 gym in Bury St Edmunds and he holds 3 bootcamps per week at Walsham le Willows sports club and has done for over two years.

For personal training he likes to take a very client-focused approach and values serving his current clients. 

When Neil gets a new enquiry for PT he always does a free consultation and movement analysis first. This allows him to identify any imbalances, weaknesses, postural problems etc, which he can build into their bespoke programme along with their personal goals.

 Neil believes for the best results both the client and he must have a good rapport, trust and be able to work together. In all his sessions he believes technique is king and will spend a lot of time perfecting this and also explaining to the client why we are doing said exercise and why it will benefit them. This is the essence of functional training. 

Neil will be the community gym manager and first person to contact regarding membership enquiries.


A History of Walsham Le Willows Sports Club

1952 was the official start of the Walsham Le Willows Sports Club. Both football and cricket teams shared the ground in Summer Road with only a small stand erected adjacent to the football pitch, whilst both teams had the use of the old pavilion, which at some stage lost its thatch to be replaced with pantiles.

In 1974 a new pavilion with changing rooms and showers were built in the S.E. corner of the ground and the Club had started its march to what it is today. In 1978 the first extension to the clubhouse provided a bar area. During the eighties further extensions were made to the Clubhouse which enabled the housing of two snooker tables and an enlarged bar area. 1990/1 saw an important growth factor to the club with the first of the youth teams, an U11 featuring sons of the Club’s current chairman and treasurer.

Progress by the football team in 2004 to a higher league required improvements to the ground which encompassed floodlights, 100 seats stand and new changing rooms for players and officials in the clubhouse. In 2011, Club president, Richard Martineau, secured further land for the Club from a family trust on a 25-year lease which enabled the construction of three more grass football pitches, an artificial grass training pitch and a tennis hard court that are both floodlit; it also enabled a significant increase in parking spaces. These additional facilities spurred a significant expansion for the provision of youth football, the introduction of walking football/netball and other exercise activities. In 2016 a new pavilion was built to provide additional changing rooms and a top of the range servery.

Back in 2008, the Club had been designated as a CASC (Community Amateur Sports Club) a formal requirement to establish legal leases on the land and buildings enabling the significant grants needed for the expansion. In 2019 a further process took place in turning the Club into a CIO (Charitable Incorporated Organisation) which then enabled our Landlords in an act of great generosity to terminate the leases and hand the freehold over to Walsham Le Willows Sports Club CIO.

Now in 2023 and partnering up with Neil Evans we believe that the community gym is the next step for the club's growth that will benefit its members and local people.

How you can play your part

There are two simple ways to help us reach our target, and make this project a reality.

1. Make a pledge. Don’t delay if you’re going to support us because momentum is key to our success!

2. Spread the word. Share our project on your social media pages and tell the world to get behind us! The more people we reach, the more support we will get.


This project offers rewards in return for your donation. Please select a reward below.

£5 or more

£5 Reward = 1 x bootcamp session

For a £5 donation Neil Evans Fitness will give you a 45 minute bootcamp session. Come and join the team at Walsham on a Tuesday or Thursday evening at 18:30 or a Saturday morning at 09:00. You never know, you may get hooked!

£10 or more

0 of 5 claimed

£10 for an hours tax consultancy

Thanks to Twinn Accountants for offering this amazing reward. For a £10 donation you will receive an hour of their consultation time to help you with your tax and corporate tax. Thank you again Twinn Accountants this is such a brilliant reward for us to be able to offer.

£20 or more

2 of 3 claimed

£20 Mystery box Reward

Thanks to 'Rayknight Enterprises Ltd' we can offer you this fantastic £30 Reward. For your sponsorship you will receive a mystery box of memorabilia. including Jack Daniels goodies. Thank you again Rayknight Enterprises Ltd. We are very grateful to be able to offer this great reward.

£20 or more

0 of 1 claimed

£20 Greene King Tour

Who would like to tour the Greene King Brewery? Well now you can for a £20 donation. We have a family ticket to offer you thanks to Greene King in Bury St Edmunds.

£25 or more

£25 reward for a club Polo shirt

A Walsham Community Gym Polo shirt (unisex)

£100 or more

£100 donation - prize draw for 1 years gym pass

We will use each £100 donation and enter that person into a prize draw for a years gym membership. (worth £300). We are offering 5 winning annual memberships.

£200 or more

£200 for a month of bootcamps

As a thank you for donating £200 Neil Evans would like to give you a months worth of bootcamp sessions for you to take part in.

£500 or more

£500 Reward

For an incredible donation of £500 or more you will receive your photo and name inside the gym on our 'Thank you for sponsoring' board as well as 3 months free gym membership.

£700 or more

1 of 4 claimed

£700 NEW Corporate Reward

We have a NEW corporate reward available. This is a fantastic opportunity to sponsor the gym and have your company advertised within the sports club grounds with an advertising board 200cm x 60cm. We also will give you 3 months free gym membership and years sports club membership.

£20 or more

1 of 1 claimed

£20 Norwich City Tickets

For a £20 donation we are offering 2 x Norwich City Football tickets for a home match before the end of the season.

£1,000 or more

4 of 4 claimed

£1000 Corporate Reward

We would love for some local businesses to sponsor the gym build by donating a £1000 to the project. This would be incredible! In return we would be able to offer you an advertising board 200cm x 60cm on the front elevation of the building. The company owner would also get a lifetime membership to Walsham sports club as well as a years membership to the gym. You will also have your companies details on the gyms website and all correspondence.

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