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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 26 February 2007

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Sir Alex opens new £675k clubhouse in Ashton-On-Mersey

MANCHESTER United Football Club Manager Sir Alex Ferguson joined local youngsters to officially open Mersey Valley Sports Club’s new £675,400 clubhouse and changing facilities on Thursday 22 February 2007.

The outstanding new sports facilities were funded with a Football Foundation grant of £504,476 as part of the Community Club Development Programme (CCDP). CCDP is a Government funded scheme, managed by Sport England, specifically earmarked to develop links between the country’s leading junior clubs and their local communities, providing quality coaching and safe environments for young people to enjoy the national game.

Ashton-on-Mersey Junior Football Club was identified by The Football Association as being eligible for CCDP investment in 2005. The club was founded ten years ago as a coaching centre for youngsters in the Ashton-on-Mersey area.

Progress of the club, which provides soccer facilities for more than 200 local youngsters, many of them drawn from three council estates in Ashton-on-Mersey, has also been recognised by the Cheshire County Football Association. Last year it awarded Ashton-on-Mersey the accolade of Community Club of the Year. The club have also been nominated for Trafford’s prestigious ‘Club of the Year Award’ and will be attending the awards evening this week.

The project received a donation of more than £100,000 from Procter and Gamble, whilst the remainder of the money has been raised by parents and volunteers.

It is estimated that the new facilities will boost opportunities to play sport by 300%. It will also open up access to football and other sports for groups like women and girls, disabled players and
enable many local coaches in the area to become fully qualified.

Founder of Ashton-on-Mersey Junior Football Club Tony Lowe, who is himself a UEFA licensed coach,
said:- “Sir Alex has maintained a keen interest in our progress, especially since we decided to build a state of the art clubhouse. We’re delighted that he has agreed to officially open it for us, it’s a great honour.

Thanks to the CCDP funding from Sport England and the Football Foundation we now have one of the best clubhouses in the North West. The facilities are fantastic.

Its wonderful that Sir Alex acknowledges the work we’re doing. He has been tremendously supportive
and it gives our youngsters tremendous pride to think he’s taking an interest.”

Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said:- “I am delighted that a great club like Ashton-on-Mersey JFC are now playing a vital role in developing the grass roots game in their area. The CCDP funding partnership between The Football Association, Sport England and the Football Foundation is strengthening the bond between local clubs and the communities they serve.”

Stewart Kellett, Regional Director, Sport England, said:- “This facility is key to the local development of football and we are committed to making sure that the club continues to provide access for the community. The Community Club Development Programme represents a new way of working for Sport England whereby national governing bodies are involved in the initial selection of possible projects for funding, based on their own strategic plans. Ashton-on-Mersey Junior Football Club was identified by the Football Association for investment and this investment through the Football Foundation will have such a positive effect on the development of the sport at all levels in this area.”


ON Tuesday 27 February 2007, events will be taking place across the country to mark the 2007 Action Mesothelioma Day. Liverpool will witness a meeting between 12 noon and 2pm at Liverpool Town Hall with the Mayor of Wirral and the Lord Mayor of Liverpool attending. A regional consultant chest physician will speak about mesothelioma.

There will be a balloon release at the town hall at 2pm on the day, at which victims of the disease from the region will be remembered. One of the people who may not be well enough to attend is Southport man, Mr John Ball who was diagnosed with mesothelioma earlier this year and has just come out of hospital.

John worked for several heat treatment companies between 1960 and 2000. He was heavily exposed to asbestos in the 1960s and 1970s in his job as a heat treatment technician. He worked in power stations alongside laggers who were removing asbestos lagging from pipework, and mixing and applying new asbestos lagging to pipework.

Commenting ahead of Tuesday’s action day he said:- “The power stations were very dusty and dirty places. The high temperatures meant that the dust circulated in the hot air currents and you could often see asbestos dust hanging in the air, especially when a shaft of sunlight came through the building. We were never told that asbestos dust was dangerous. We should have been given proper masks to wear.

I am not ashamed of having this disease so I am speaking out. I am worried about my wife and how she will cope.”

Mesothelioma is a cancer of the Mesothelium, the thin membrane that lines the chest and abdomen. One of the cruellest forms of Cancer, Mesothelioma is incurable and invariably fatal and has an incubation period of anywhere between 20 and 50 years.

It is estimated that there are approximately 2000 deaths from Mesothelioma a year currently in the UK and this number is set to rise as, despite the use of asbestos being banned in the UK in 1999, previous exposure to the substance means this number has not yet reached its maximum.

Geraldine Coombs from North West based law firm Irwin Mitchell which has acted on behalf of hundreds of victims of disease including Mr Ball said:- “There is an epidemic of people suffering from mesothelioma - men like Mr Ball who worked in industrial jobs for their whole working life, only to find out their employer took a chance with their health.

It’s also worrying that more people who have worked in jobs not usually associated with heavy exposure to asbestos are being diagnosed with Mesothelioma. These include teachers, hospital staff and people exposed to asbestos dust brought home on work clothes of family members.”

The balloon release has been organised by the Merseyside Asbestos Victims Support Group and Cheshire Asbestos Victims Support Group, and Action Mesothelioma Day is organised by the British Lung Foundation.

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