Community in Rhayader is on track to reduce loneliness

Community Camp

Alan attended the Eden Project Community Camp in November 2018. Joining dozens of other like-minded community focused individuals from across the UK, Alan headed to Eden for a weekend of information gathering, learning and development.  He said, ‘I’m grateful for having been selected; the Camp had a big impact on me. I didn’t expect the level of positive emotions I experienced being around so many community-focused people.’ 

For Alan, Community Camp was an opportunity not only to develop new skills, but to bring them back to his town of Rhayader to benefit his community as a volunteer for Rhayader Sports Association.

When issues arose, the community came together. It made me realise just how many local people had skills that they could bring to the table.

Pump Track Wales

Alan consulted with his community to ask what style of bike track they would like to see built. Alan explained ‘this evolved over time into a pump track – similar to a BMX track, but designed for riders to use their momentum to go around it without peddling!’ A free, open access facility was another important outcome, which Alan set out to deliver for his community.

Armed with renewed motivation from his time at Community Camp, Alan set out to put his new skills into action. The motivation to complete his bike track project was strong; it had been five years in the making and he’d been spurred on by community members keenly asking him for project updates.

Alan and the Pump Track team worked in partnership with Rhayader Town Council and Cartwright Associates to secure funding and manage the project. Thankfully, the hard work paid off with Clark & Kent Contractors commencing building work in July 2019.

The idea was to create a competition standard track, for all ages and abilities, to improve rider fitness, and to form a community of pump track users. Alan said, ‘We’ve already seen teenage riders looking after the younger ones. Everyone is trading tips and welcoming each other – it’s brilliant to see!’

As with any major project, Pump Track Wales wasn’t all plain sailing. However, with lessons learnt in all manner of issues from drainage to legalese, Alan and the project team soldiered on, never losing sight of the end goal or enthusiasm. He said, ‘When issues arose, the community came together. It made me realise just how many local people had skills that they could bring to the table.’

He continues, ‘We had a local architect provide the designs at no charge, we had someone help with the topographical surveys too! Having those links and connections were incredible – it was a true community project!’

Alan said ‘The whole project was a lesson in perseverance, but that came naturally. This was due to the resilience of the community – we’re a can-do, optimistic community!’

In September 2019, Alan and the project team opened Pump Track Wales; the biggest mirrored pump track in the UK!

National Lottery Funded

Pump Track Wales is kindly funded by several donors, including The National Lottery Community Fund. Alan said, ‘We were really fortunate. They gave us the final piece of the puzzle. We were incredibly grateful, as it gave us the green light!’

He continues, ‘The ease of the process in applying was brilliant. There was nothing to trip you up, it was just a positive process!’

The Big Lunch

Next year, Alan is intending to unite the community once again, but this time, over sandwiches and cake, as well as bicycles! He said, ‘It’s my goal to hold a Big Lunch. Lessons learned about loneliness at Community Camp were powerful, so to hold a Big Lunch to help combat that in our community would be great!’

Join community heroes like Alan next year and get your neighbours involved in The Big Lunch, 6-7 June 2020.