PARALYMPICS chief Sir Philip Craven was back in his home town — fresh from the Winter Games, where he found himself embroiled in the Crimean crisis — to give his support to an ambitious bid to transform Bolton into a centre of sporting excellence.
Bolton School today unveiled its “aspirational plans” to develop its sporting facilities not only for its pupils, but for the community.
The bid was launched in front of special guests including Mr Craven, town hall chiefs, leading sports teachers and representatives from local sporting organisations, who were urged to get on board and become key partners.
The scheme, described by Bolton School as “intentionally ambitious” will, if successful, provide national standard hockey and lacrosse facilities; a centre of excellence for cricket and netball based on both outdoor surfaces; and a sports hall and pitches for recreation sport.
A sports hall, an astro-turf and all weather pitch also form part of the plans.
Mr Craven, a former Bolton School pupil, said this was another example of the legacy of the London 2012 Olympics, which he says has developed in many communities.
He said: “I am honoured to be invited back. It is really exciting and it is about inspiring and exciting Bolton.
“The key thing is about having partnerships, which is not just about money, but about human partnerships and society partnerships.
“It is all the different groups coming together to work for a common cause — this is Bolton School going into the community and the community coming to Bolton School.
”Sport is about participating at any level, having fun and interacting.”
The launch was intended to gauge interest and get feedback on the plans.
Philip Britton, headteacher of the boys’ division, said the facilities would be “developed for all” and a partnership had already been struck up with Bolton Hockey Club.
He said: ”I am very pleased indeed with those who have attended. We have local partners and those from national sports bodies.
“We are a part of the community of Bolton and it is about moving Bolton forward, providing opportunities for the whole of Bolton.
”We hope to provide a catalyst and opportunity in terms of sort.”
Mr Britton added: “It gives me a sense of pride when former pupils return to the school.
"When they were here, the school must have made a difference to them, and after all these years, they still have a sense of loyalty to the past and the future of the school.”
Bolton Hockey Club president Mark Bailey has already teamed with up with the school to submit a “declaration of interest” to Sport England.
He said: “The club is based at Farnworth Cricket Club and we play across four pitches in Bolton.
“The club is growing and we have members aged from six to 70.
“We have members representing the England and playing at country level — there is much sporting excellence in Bolton — the young people and the coaches have earned the right to have something like this.”