Edition number 72; dateline 3 May 2013

Giant among volunteers dies
Alan Fennel MBE, a man described by this magazine’s managing editor Mick Owen as “a giant among volunteers” and who featured in our December 2012 edition, has died aged 86 after a short illness. Alan, who was honoured in his eightieth year for ‘services to sport’, first volunteered when he handed out gala programmes at the age of eleven and was still organising coach education courses for Glossop Amateur Swimming Club and the wider sporting community some 75 years later. He served as president of the Derbyshire ASA and was active, before the Amateur Swimming Association declared that it would be otherwise, in the Manchester and District Swimming and Water Polo Association. “Grassroots sport in this country is beholden to men and women like Alan Fennel,” said Owen, “and the dedication, good humour and energy they bring to running the clubs and associations which form the backbone, and indeed heartbeat, of British sport.”

Bitel settles in to Sport England chair
The sports development agency for England has found itself a new chair with a man described variously as a “sports lawyer and powerful advocate for grassroots sport” and a “faceless bureaucrat” getting the job which many thought could and should have gone to Tanni Grey-Thompson, whose political links apparently precluded her from consideration. Bitel joins the agency run by fellow former lawyer Jennie Price following time spent as chief executive of the London Marathon, succeeding Richard Lewis who stood down at the end of his term in March.

Copper Box begins to recruit
The first major recruitment drive since David Cameron was forced to fill Olympic security situations vacant with military personnel has begun at the Queen Elizabeth Park. Facility management company GLL, which will operate the Copper Box Arena when it opens as a sports and entertainment venue this July, hosted a recruitment fair at Stratford Town Hall, with more than 70 positions on offer. Over 140 prospective employees attended the event, competing to fill roles as arena assistants, customer service advisers, fitness instructors, crèche assistants and sports coaches. GLL is committed to filling around 70% of the positions on offer with those living locally, by which they mean in one of the six London Olympic host boroughs. Russ Barnes, venue manager of the Copper Box Arena, played the legacy card saying: “This is one of the first major recruitment drives to be held for the park and is a concrete example of the Olympic legacy in action. The successful applicants will play a key role in building a long-lasting legacy at the Park and will have a fantastic opportunity to work at a unique venue as part of a unique team.”

Olympic legacy lies, damn lies or statistics
According to research by a company called nfpSynergy, the proportion of people volunteering in sport since the Olympics has remained flat with only 2% of adults having been motivated by the “greatest show on earth” to start volunteering. In its Charity Awareness Monitor – Volunteering survey, carried out in March, nfpSynergy asked more than 2,000 nationally representative adults whether last year’s London Olympic and Paralympic Games had inspired them to volunteer with charities or community groups. From a choice of four statements, only 2% chose “Yes, I started volunteering for the first time soon after the Games”. Rather more – 70% – said they did not want to start or do any more volunteering; 17% said they had not done any yet but would like to find out more; and 10% said they were already volunteering and now gave more time. In a separate nfpSynergy survey of 496 nationally representative 11- to 16-year-olds, 6% said they had started volunteering for the first time soon after the games, 36% said they did not want to start or do any more volunteering and 44% said they had not done any yet but would like to find out more.

Website to stop pools closing
One of swimming’s major governing bodies, the ASA, has set up “a website dedicated to helping communities keep swimming pools open where there is a clear need”. In response to the increasing threat of closure to local pools as councils make austerity-inspired budget cuts and leisure management companies disguised as charities replace small local pools with more cost-effective behemoths, the Loughborough-based body is offering a website. Called Pool Watch, the site “provides all the information and guidance needed to get started [on saving your pool], including how to source evidence, analyse the need for a pool and source facility funding”. It will also offer “inspirational stories of pools that have been saved”.





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Tuesday 14 May
There’s a crisis of masculinity affecting British men, according to Diane Abbott MP. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) says that the UK government’s austerity policies are hitting the poor and the young hardest while widening inequality; but apart from that it’s all going well. The Venice Biennale is to include a pavilion hosted by the Vatican, the contents of which have been inspired by the book of Genesis (insert your own Phil Collins joke here). Neil Black, new performance director at UK Athletics, says that British athletics will be “back with a vengeance” this year. HMRC has decided that football coaches are the the latest people to target for unpaid taxes.

Wednesday 15 May
Anish Kapoor observes that the German attitude to art and artists is “rather healthy” and in marked contrast to that in Britain; British policy on the arts, the second largest economic sector after finance but with only 0.1% of government spending, is, he suggests, “completely scuzzy”. HS2, the proposed high-speed rail link, is £3.3 billion short says the National Audit Office; it is expected to cost £33 billion. It’s the middle of May so it’s snowing and a series of botanical lithographs by Salvador Dali are to be sold at auction. In the Giro d’Italia there is positive drugs test, prompting a swift arrividerci from French rider Sylvain Georges. The process of UK Athletics coming “back with a vengeance” will have to be done with a new head coach, its third in a year, after Peter Eriksson says he is going home to Canada for “family reasons”.

Thursday 16 May
David Beckham announces his retirement from football, having given up running around a couple of seasons ago. The British Medical Association, that noted hotbed of lefties and revolutionaries, says that the government’s policies threaten to drive families into poverty and are having a profoundly damaging impact on the lives of children. In other news of profoundly unsurprising events, three players involved in the Indian Twenty20 cricket competition have been arrested on charges of match-fixing. The British library is holding an exhibition of propaganda posters. It seems that the driver of a speedboat involved in a fatal accident in Cornwall was not wearing a cord designed to cut the engine in the event of the driver falling overboard.

Friday 17 May
It seems that the prime minister has been persuaded to drop plans to require plain packaging on all cigarettes on sale. Chinese tourists are warned by the Chinese authorities to behave while they are overseas to protect the national image of their nation. Jimmy Anderson becomes the fourth England bowler to take 300 Test wickets. Mark Cavendish wins his fourth stage of this year’s Giro d’Italia, while Bradley Wiggins departs the peloton after struggling through the rain and snow of an Italian summer with a chest infection.

Saturday/Sunday 18/19 May
It seems some people are prepared to pay touts £500 for a £12 seat at the Proms. There is another Eurovision, which the favourite won, and shop vacancies in the UK are now at record levels, according to the British Retail Consortium. In France politician Marine Le Pen fractures vertebrae after falling into an empty swimming pool at her home and Westminster Abbey hangs Ralph Heimans’ portrait of the Queen but you’ll have to pay the entrance fee to see it.


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