Youngsters enjoy sports sessions in memory of Mildenhall footballer

Norwich City FC coach Michael Torode coached Mildenhall youngsters. ANL-160606-160250001
Norwich City FC coach Michael Torode coached Mildenhall youngsters. ANL-160606-160250001

Hundreds of youngsters from across the Mildenhall area had the chance to try their hands at a host of different sports for free thanks to a charity foundation set up in memory of a much-loved local sportsman.

Twenty-eight-year-old Christopher “Blerch” Merchant, a well-known Mildenhall footballer who also enjoyed tennis, cycling, golf and fishing was one of four people killed in a car crash at Worlington last July.

Budding Victoria Pendletons Youngsters with Mildenhall Cycling Club. ANL-160606-160301001

Budding Victoria Pendletons Youngsters with Mildenhall Cycling Club. ANL-160606-160301001

And it was her son’s love of sport which inspired Sue Lyes to set up the Blerch Sporting Foundation to provide free taster sessions for local children to encourage them to get active and get involved in local sport.

On Saturday the foundation was officially launched at an open day on Mildenhall’s Jubilee Fields and proved to be a huge success with a large number of youngsters signing up for sessions.

There were have-a-go sessions with Mildenhall Cricket Club, West Row Bowls Club, football coach Darren Gathercole, the West Suffolk Golf Centre, Breckland Netball, Titan Tennis from Red Lodge, Mildenhall Cycling Club and basketball with the Mildenhall Pirates.

There was a Tae Kwon-Do display with Mark Farnham and Norwich City’s youth development coach put youngsters through their paces with football skills training, while riders from Mildenhall Fen Tigers speedway team brought along their bikes.

Youngsters Aaron Leonard 4 and Frankie Leonard 6 pony riding with Kate McNally and Chloe Ogbourne from Brecks Treks. ANL-160606-160228001

Youngsters Aaron Leonard 4 and Frankie Leonard 6 pony riding with Kate McNally and Chloe Ogbourne from Brecks Treks. ANL-160606-160228001

Locality budget grants totalling £1,250 from local area Forest Heath District councillors John Bloodworth, Ruth Bowman, Louis Busuttil and Nigel Roman helped pay for the staging of the event so cash raised on the day could be ploughed back into the foundation to fund free sports sessions.

“It was a wonderful day,” said Sue. “I am sure Christopher was looking down on us and if he had been here he would have been delighted to have been involved.

“We will now pick up the fund-raising in September and we have a number of events planned so we can continue to fund the foundation.”

Christopher 'Blerch' Merchant ANL-150722-145814001

Christopher 'Blerch' Merchant ANL-150722-145814001