An organisation which has helped promising Cumbrian athletes for several decades is at risk of folding.
The Cumbria Schools Athletics Association, which has helped Olympic stars such as Nick Miller reach the top, is struggling through a lack of people to run it.
The retirement of three senior committee members and a shortage of volunteers has taken it to “breaking point”.
The association has helped produce a string of top athletes, supported school children from grassroots level upwards, and planned district and county events through to national level.
Now senior figures at the organisation have launched an appeal for people to come forward and get involved before it is too late.
A statement from the organisation said: “We need your help – the future of Cumbria Schools Athletics Association is in serious danger.
“This isn’t an idle comment, it is fact.
“We need new blood and commitment to ensure we can continue the legacy that has been so successful in supporting young people to achieve great things in athletics, including Nick Miller – hammer thrower, Commonwealth Games and Olympic athlete.
“The organisation, which for many years has produced athletes competing at all levels, will soon cease to exist unless a number of volunteers step forward and help with the running of the association.
“Supporting school children from grass roots level onwards, and planning district and county events through to national level, is a logistical challenge and needs the organisation to have strength in numbers and consistency – something we are now lacking.”
The recent retirement of the association’s chairperson, secretary and treasurer has left an urgent need for new people to step up.
“We have tried over the last couple of years to encourage and recruit new blood into the organisation to pass on the knowledge from our previous committee, but this has sadly been unsuccessful,” the statement added.
“This leaves the organisation currently at breaking point. We fear that if we cannot recruit enough people to the key roles in the committee, the organisation will fold.
“This will mean no county championships and no Cumbria team at any regional or national cross country, combined events or track and field events.
“Being part of the association is a commitment and it can involve hard work at various times of the year – yet it is also very rewarding, with the knowledge that by volunteering your time, you are indeed supporting the youth of today to become athletes of the future. We may be a small county, but we are mighty!”
Other Cumbrian athletes who have been supported by the organisation include Olympic runners Tom Farrell and Oliver Dustin.
Nick Miller’s father Lenny, who has been chairman of the association for about ten years, says a letter has been sent to district secretaries and school PE staff across Cumbria with a plea for people to come forward.
“School heads have offered to allow us to double the cost of enrolment, so we can make £3-4,000 to try and employ someone to be treasurer/secretary on a part time basis, as that seems the only way we’re going to get anyone,” he added, “as nobody seems willing to come forward on voluntary basis.
“If that doesn’t work, Cumbria Schools Athletics Association is finished. It would be a really sad end after several decades.
“Over the years we’ve had several national champions and Commonwealth Games athletes as well as those who have made the Olympics.
“We sincerely hope someone will come forward and help keep it going.”
Anyone interested in finding out more can email John Pownceby, Cumbria Schools Athletics Association President, via firstname.lastname@example.org, before the end of the month.