In response to the "open letter" from the Councillors sent to the newspapers - see photos
29th June 2021
Thank you for your letter regarding the closure of Phoenix Gymnastics Club and it’s “future”.
Firstly, whilst I understand the concept of an open letter you appear to have missed everyone at Phoenix off the recipient list as the first we heard of it was when the Maidenhead Advertiser contacted Phoenix for comment on the contents.
If the council were serious in their desire to “work together for the future of Phoenix Gymnastics members” or “draw on your relationships, connections and expertise”, they might, as a first port of call, have considered reaching out to the trustees and staff directly, but we have had no such contact.
A cynic might suggest that an open letter from a council that has been on the receiving end of significant anger and dismay on social media for its handling of the Phoenix situation is simply an exercise in “posterior concealment”, but let me try and respond as best I can.
It is important to note that whilst I share the council’s concern and sympathy for local businesses and charities that have suffered due to the COVID pandemic, this was not the reason Phoenix closed.
Phoenix weathered the crisis extremely well, a testament to the loyalty and dedication of our members. The only reason Phoenix has been “unable to continue in its present guise” is that we have a gap of a mere nine months from the demolition of our current facility at Water Oakley to the ability to generate income at our purpose-built facility at Fifield.
I do not share your assertion that the “focus should not be on rehashing the past” as I believe many valuable lessons can be learnt from this sad situation. The trustees must, and do take responsibility for Phoenix closing, but the oft repeated assertion that the council would do everything it could to secure the future of this well-loved community asset, was rarely, if ever, backed up with any meaningful, practical help.
Assurances that assistance would be given in finding an alternative site produced nothing and financial grants related to the planning application on our rented Water Oakley site disappeared when that planning permission was not acted upon, and failed to reappear in the current application to expand and redevelop Bray studios on the Water Oakley site.
It was the trustees of Phoenix that found and negotiated a lease for the Fifield site, owned by Summerleaze, who we would like to thank for their straightforward generosity and the way that they have supported us, without reservation, throughout this whole sorry saga. Summerleaze were one of the few who have consistently said yes, when others seemed to take a perverse pleasure in saying no.
It is all very well writing in a spirit of cooperation now, when what we needed was cooperation months, if not years ago. To be fair there were some notable, singular efforts to assist our last minute search to find a temporary home but one councillor is not enough. What would have really assisted would have been a coordinated and concerted effort to actually help, but none was forthcoming. I believe the opportunity to “secure the future of Phoenix”, as promised, was missed as far back as when the redevelopment of Water Oakley was first mooted, and I hope lessons can be learned from that.
However the focus recently has been on our attempts to erect a temporary training facility in parallel with our proposed new facility in Fifield.
We never expected any special treatment with respect to planning “particularly when relating to substantial development in the green belt”, permission for which we already have. The only reason we tried to erect our own temporary facility for the nine months we needed it was that all other options had been eliminated. It was complicated and an absolute last roll of the dice as it would use all our reserves, but our only other option at that point was to close.
I note with irony that, seemingly overnight at our previous home in Water Oakley, a green belt site, numerous, large industrial buildings have sprung up, all allowed under retrospective, temporary planning permission, in fact our attempt to erect a temporary building on the Fifield site was partly informed by this fact, so it seems that the “troubling precedent” has already been set.
We took advice and believed that we had the “urgent and emergency business need” required to utilise parallel planning permission.
We did not intend any planning breaches and were fully confident that any concerns could be rectified in time, but what we did not expect was the enmity or determination of the Council’s efforts to halt our temporary training facility, culminating in a stop work order that cost us many thousands of pounds in spoiled concrete and contract delay fines for the temporary building. These costs, added to the prospect of being unable to generate income in the near to medium term, were the final nail in the coffin for Phoenix, but we were surprised that this nail was driven home with such ferocity by the very same council that insists it is “positive, constructive and focussed on helping the club”.
Perhaps you might like to ask the council enforcement officer who stated that “you got what you deserved” where that sentiment fits into our new found spirit of cooperation that we are embarking on?
We will forever regret that we have failed to find a way to keep this proud club going and apologise to all those who have worked tirelessly through the years towards this goal of having a proper training facility for the gymnasts who train so hard and ask so little.
Our greatest sorrow is reserved for our staff and members. Young gymnasts have few places to go as the sport is so oversubscribed and after months of Zoom classes from their living rooms, the closure of Phoenix is heart-breaking. Talented coaches, some of the best in the country, have sadly been let go, along with a dedicated team that creatively kept the business going through the pandemic, despite the forced closures that saw so many other business fail. We were over-subscribed, self-funding and no burden to the taxpayer for more than four decades; and were set to continue coaching more than 1,000 gymnasts a week in the new purpose-built facility.
Sadly, the Borough will now not see one of the best gymnastics facilities in the region and beyond opening in just under a year as planned, and has also lost the largest Sport England grant of £450,000 at a time when youth sport is struggling to survive and children need it most.
We are, quite rightly, welcoming the prospect of the Maidenhead Heritage Centre expanding into the SportsAble building, but what future achievements will they be able to celebrate if we continue to close clubs and lose facilities that encourage and inspire our children to achieve greatness?
So, whilst our ex-home at Water Oakley continues to expand, supported, if the rumours are correct, by a multi-billion pound, international company, (yet no space could be found for us there), our club, that has self-sufficiently served the community for decades, will disappear. We have been squeezed out by developers and big business and whilst I believe the councillors are genuine in their regret at the fate of Phoenix, they have allowed it to happen.
I hope you can see that you must take some responsibility for allowing this jewel to slip through our fingers and that lessons can be learned to make sure that this does not happen again.
There are dedicated and talented individuals within the Borough providing alternative gymnastic provision. I hope they do not take it as a slight and allow me a biased view that they will not be able to provide the depth and breadth of training that Phoenix was able to provide, tumble-tots right up to national level competition. Any gymnastic provider in the Borough with such aspirations will come up against the same hurdles we did of finding an affordable facility in which to provide both recreational and top level, elite training. We had it within our grasp and we let it slip away, for which we should all be ashamed.
Joni Mitchell, in her song, Big Yellow Taxi wrote:
“Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”, and I fear that we will all come to realise that this is true in the case of Phoenix.
For those of you that would point out the song was about the development of green spaces I would suggest alternative lyrics to say:
“they paved a small corner of an unremarkable, soon to be gravel extraction site, and put up a world class, children’s sporting facility, promoting health, fitness, confidence and resilience in our children that will be with them for life”….which to be fair, doesn’t scan as well as Joni’s original lyrics.
Exhausted and demoralised as we are, the Phoenix trustees will always make themselves available to discuss any potential future for the Borough’s young gymnasts.
Chair of Trustees
Phoenix Gymnastics Club
Phoenix Gymnastics Club
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Date: Sunday 13th June
Pre booking essential at the cost of £4 per 45 minute session.
Booking online via their website or by phone.
Spaces are limited so be quick!
When are the summer camp details going to be released pls?
It’s so heart warming to see coaches at our licensed clubs continuing to deliver Kidz Impact sessions to help ALL their members stay healthy and active. Here Coach Charlotte from Phoenix Gymnastics Club talks her class through their warm up 👌
If you’re a gym or kids club owner and would like FREE resources and content to help keep your members engaged with you during lockdown then check out our new collaborative initiative to do ‘Whatever it takes’ to support you through:
We are so proud of everybody that took part last night 🤸🏽♀️🤸🏼♂️
Some fantastic kettlebell swings on display from the squad gymnasts at Phoenix Gymnastics Club
This explosive hinge movement pattern is great for developing lower body power for all jumping, tumbling, lifting and running skills 👌The load is set for each child according to their ability to perform the movement with integrity over the sets and reps chosen to elicit the desired adaptation. Variations include the kettlebell deadlift, a more controlled banded hinge or a good morning for children who struggle to keep a flat back and planted feet throughout the movement.
Get the programme in your gym or sports club: www.kidzimpact.co.uk/licence
As early adopters of the programme they have been trend-setters across the gymnastics community 👌
Classes for all ages: Mondays @ 7pm, Friday @ 6.30pm, Saturday @ 2.30pm
LEARN MORE: www.kidzimpact.co.uk/club-phoenix
Phoenix Gymnastics Club is a charity gymnastics club between Maidenhead and Windsor and offers gymna
Operating as usual
In response to the "open letter" from the Councillors sent to the newspapers - see photos
**CHAIRMAN'S FINAL MESSAGE**
Last Friday evening we said goodbye to the club that we all love so much.
I had intended to say a few words on the evening but there never seemed like the right moment, and it was fitting and proper that the final words were left to the coaches and their gymnasts.
Clearly it was a dreadfully sad day, not the farewell party we had hoped for nor the celebration of a new beginning, but instead, marking of the end of a truly wonderful club that deserved so, so much more.
There were tears as you would expect, but also laughter and joy at memories shared and friends made for life.
I know that the trustees, myself, Dar and Cathy are bitterly disappointed that we have failed you in building a new club for the future.
It’s seemed at times that everyone was against Phoenix, that we never got the lucky break we felt we deserved, and sure, we made some mistakes, but we console ourselves with the fact that we tried everything we could, and kept trying, right up until the very end.
And I ask myself what it was about this club that made us want to keep fighting again and again, each time the situation seemed hopeless.
Its not facilities, or achievements or awards that makes a club special; what singled this club out as something different were the people. The staff, parents & guardians, the supporters and of course the gymnasts.
It’s been a privilege to watch this club grow in ability, reputation and popularity and that has been down to all of you, the Phoenix family.
Our team of staff are a credit to themselves and to the gym. Some have given many, many years of hard work and dedication to Phoenix, some have volunteered and given their time for free, and we were proud to have a great many home-grown coaches, trained in-house from gymnast to coach.
I would love to mention you all but I would inevitably miss someone out and that just wouldn’t be fair.
So I will reluctantly limit myself to mentioning just Becky and Liv, the driving force that turned this club from a great club to an exceptional one.
We always knew that Becky and Liv were vital to our plans going forward and that if we lost them they would be difficult, if not impossible to replace. The club has faced uncertainty for many years now, but the last few months have been particularly tough. More so for Becky and Liv as they have spent years, and an extraordinary amount of effort shaping Phoenix into something that was on the verge of greatness, and to see that slip away through no fault of their own must be heartbreaking.
It has been an absolute pleasure and an honour to work with them, but our loss is someone else’s gain and I know that they will be successful wherever they go. I hope that whichever gymnastics clubs they continue their careers with realise how lucky they are.
Finally, I have to mention our Centre Director, Lynn, the lynch-pin that held this gym together. I don’t imagine Lynn ever imagined how stressful, emotional or draining her job would be.
Ninety percent of what she has been dealing with over the last five years and more was never on the job spec but she has dealt with it with skill, dedication, good humour, efficiency and without complaint.
Had she walked away, as she must have considered doing numerous times, we would have closed years ago, but that’s not the person Lynn is, and myself and the trustees are forever indebted to her. There are heroes in defeats just as much as in victories and the hero in this particular story is undoubtedly Lynn.
So thank you all once again, for everything you have done, big or small, it all meant something. We didn’t win this one but we cherish the memories and we learn from the experience, and maybe, in our young gymnasts, in our coaches, in all of us, at some point in the future the embers will glow and lots of new, different, personal Phoenixes will rise.
I wish you all the very best wherever you go from here.
On behalf of the Trustees
Phoenix Gymnastics Club.
We have a number of items available for reasonable donations and they can be viewed and collected from the club today until 2.30pm and then again this evening between 6.00 and 7.00pm.
Office furniture including desks, printer, stationary and pin boards
Pre School toys and books
Fridge and fridge freezer
Tables and chairs
Leotards and hoodies
Kitchen items incluiding an urn
Despite the closure of our beloved gym club Jane is delighted to announce that trampolining will continue at East Berkshire College in Langley and keep the Phoenix name.
Jane has done a phenomenal job of building the trampolining classes and squad and we are so pleased that this will continue.
The new email address is [email protected] and she would be delighted to hear from you.
Good luck Jane and thank you 💕
Phoenix Trampolining, Langley
Last night was emotional 💕
Yesterday we let staff and members know that we will be closing this Friday permanently.
We are absolutely devastated but the temporary building work on site was forced to stop while apparent breaches are investigated.
We knew the timescale for erecting a temporary building were tight and we do not have the resources, namely time and money to wait while the investigations are underway. Without a club to train from there is no Phoenix.
We are so desperately sorry that it has come to this. We looked long and hard for an alternative site while we built our dream.
Thank you to each and every one of you who has supported Phoenix on this journey and we hope our members and amazing staff past and present will take with them a lifetime of memories 😢
We still have spaces this morning for under 5's PlayGym - 9.30, 10.30 and 11.30am and we would love to see you.
Walk ins welcome today - alternatively you can book below ⬇️
Our last week at Water Oakley so come and play while you can!
As we enter the last week at Water Oakley we have been reminiscing about the last 30 years here!
Please do let us know your memories of our beloved former vegetable processing shed.... we won't miss the cold winters and damp office floor!!!
Huge thanks to our Phoenix alumni for the brilliant photos of times gone by 💕
Wishing our superstar, all round awesome Head of Women's Olivia Alexandra a very Happy 3️⃣0️⃣th Birthday today!!
We hope you have amazing celebrations
lots of love your Phoenix Family 🎈🥳🎉🎁
With the long holidays just around the corner we will be launching our summer programme next week but we need your help!
**What would you like us to offer?**
We could offer....
Day Camps / Half Day Camps / Week Academy Camps / Skills Clinics - which skills? / Workshops / Choreo and Dancing / Cheerleading tasters or camps / Boys only / Pre School classes / Toddler Bouncing / More PlayGym / Open Gym Sessions / Trampolining / Tumbling and much more.....
We would love to know what your gymnast would enjoy this summer to help us with our planning - please message or comment below ⬇️
Thank you for your help
Our under 5's PLAYGYM is on at our current gym in Water Oakley for the next two weeks and this Sunday!
Sessions are 45 minutes long and are on at 9.30, 10.30 and 11.30am
You can book via our website https://www.phoenixgym.co.uk/playgym
We can't wait to see you
Reaching for the long weekend - great work Hazel!
Final call for your pre loved furry friends!
Collecting until Saturday so please bring your unwanted soft toys which will be donated to others and in return the club will be receive a donation......
Thanks for your support
It's back - for one week only and the last at Water Oakley......
Come and join us for **Sunday PlayGym**
Pre booking essential as the numbers will limited in line with current guidelines.
Sunday 13th June at 9.30am / 10.30am or 11.30am - 45 minute sessions.
£4 per child / under 5’s only
You can book here ⬇️
We are looking for dynamic coaches across the board to come and join us as we begin the new chapter of Phoenix..... if you exude energy and passion for gymnastics, have a can do attitude and love working in a team of like minded coaches then contact us now.
From Pre School and Recreational to specific discipline coaches we want to hear from you whatever your passion is, as we develop our new facility and offering for the future.
Please contact Becky, our Director of Coaching [email protected] or call the office on 01628 778881 for further information
We have already had an amazing response to our news that we are moving and we already have some members who are hot off the press with fundraising.
Lucy from S1 is raising money by making and selling scrunchies at reception so do support her if you need one - all money goes to Phoenix - thank you Lucy!
..and Jessie-Mae and her brother Aidan are doing a cycle and paddle marathon with help from their cousin Megan during half term and are already on the case with a Just Giving page linked to Phoenix. Thank you all so much.
You can donate to their JustGiving page by clicking here:
We can't wait to hear what else our brilliant gymnasts will think of next
PHOENIX IS RISING
⭐️ EXCITING NEWS ⭐️
We are delighted to let our wonderful friends, customers and gymnasts know that we have arranged for a temporary building to be erected on our new site in Fifield while we build our dream - ready in just 9 months.
It seems like a distant memory when we all packed out the town hall to hear the result of our planning application but finally, the new Phoenix is about to become a reality.
A huge thanks to everyone who has taken the time to support us with ideas and contacts. It has been a bumpy ride with what felt like an endless search for premises and funds. The Borough has been so supportive with our search too for which we are very grateful. 🙏
With an estimated 25% sporting provision being lost due to the pandemic we are proud that we will be providing a sporting legacy for local children for the next 100+ years!! 💪
We will stay at Water Oakley for a further few weeks while the ground works begin and move in next month.
Our fundraising will begin in earnest and we look forward to our coaches and gymnasts being able to continue their gymnastics journey with us.
British Gymnastics Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead Town Hall
PHOENIX IS RISING We are raising funds for our dream facility to be built in Fifield, Berkshire.... due to start in June 2021. Every penny will go towards helping our Phoenix Family to realise our ambitions for a new home.
We are able to stay at our current gym at Water Oakley for a few weeks longer which means we can run our popular
**Half Term Camps**
Book now to avoid disappointment
Tuesday 1st June - Friday 4th June 2021
5-11 years (4 if already in an after school class with us)
Non members welcome too!
MEMBERS - Look out for more exciting news via email TODAY!
Click here to claim your Sponsored Listing.
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