It’s a decade since ice-skating coach Amanda Hembrow-Jones launched her synchronized skating academy in Sheffield.
The former international skater was keen to involve others in the sport she had enjoyed as a youngster in Solihull, and her passion soon spread.
“I did a taster session in Sheffield and on that first week we had over 60 turn up. Within seven weeks our first team was competing, and we’ve built up and up from there,” she explained.
“I’ve always loved synchronised skating since my coach first wanted to try it out 25 years ago, and it is quite under-represented as a sport. It needs more exposure and work is ongoing to have it included as an Olympic sport, potentially at the next Games.
“It gives youngsters so many life skills, from team working and communication, to coping with travelling and competing, and building lifelong friendships.
“Here in Sheffield we are a close-knit community with a family spirit.”
Members were immersed in a four-week fundraising frenzy this month, in a bid to gain major grant help as they took part in the very first South Yorkshire Charity Sports Challenge.
The Academy was selected to take part by Hallam FM’s Cash for Kids charity, in partnership with the Sheffield & Hallamshire County FA and SIV.
Nine other local groups competed for investment similarly.
Each club had time from the launch of the World Cup on June 14 until the day of the final on July 15 to raise as much money as possible, with each group to get its fundraising matched to the value of £2,500.
A further £2,500 was awarded to the group that raises the most money across the competition. The SSSA learned this week that they achieved third place, having raised a whopping £14,000. They also received a special £500 prize for the quality of their social media campaign.
Resulting funds will support sick and disadvantaged children, and the Academy will be able to better invest in itself too.
“We fundraised previously to buy matching kit with coats and bags for the teams, but they are getting a bit dog-eared and need replacing,” said Amanda.
“There are quite a few single parent families within our club and we do like to keep subs at a reasonable level. Some of the older girls we have would like to learn to coach and carry on the work we do, but that can all be quite expensive, so we would like to give a bit back in response to their commitment to the club, and allow them to do this.
“We also need to reach out more to the communities around Sheffield to let people know we are here.
“We’re hoping everyone in the local community will continue to get behind our efforts, so please follow us on social media to stay updated!”
She continued: “Our members range from age six to 56, and many have trained as adults.
“Basic skills only are needed to start in synchronised skating. We attract many skaters who lack confidence, as being on the ice with others can build this along with their ability.”
Follow the SSSA on social media at: Facebook (Sheffield Synchronized Skating Academy), Twitter (@SheffSynchro) and Instagram (Sheffield_synchro_GB).