2018 marked the 15th anniversary since the formation of the charity now known as Friends of Histon & Impington Recreation (registered charity number 1100193) or Friends of the Rec. The original objective in 2003 was to nurture community fundraising for the Recreation Ground redevelopment project, for which well over £50,000 was raised in the first five years. The Friends work closely with the Histon & Impington Parish Council who own and operate the Recreation Ground.
The first phase of the Friends history concluded in May 2006 with the opening of the new Recreation Ground Centre and new sports courts by Pat Jennings (the famous British goalkeeper for Spurs and Arsenal). The community fundraising events transformed the villages’ perception of the Recreation Ground and thousands visited the Rec to attend Balls, Concerts, Running Events and Sports days.
The Friends of the Rec continued its fundraising efforts in the summer of 2006 and since then a further £50,000 has been raised to improve Recreation Ground facilities – most notably the Rec Outdoor Gym and the complete redevelopment of the Recreation Ground Play Area. The enlarged play area opened in June 2010.
The Friends staged the first Bonfire Burn 10k in November 2011, which was expected to be a small running event but nearly 750 runners took part in a memorable event. In the last seven years numbers have continued to increase and the Bonfire Burn 10k has become one of the District’s largest sporting events with over 1,000 runners in 2017.
2012 was an iconic year of celebration with the Jubilee Weekend in June 2012 covering probably the greatest range of community events ever in Histon and Impington, and this was the culmination of two years of detailed planning. Nearly 7,000 people attended and took part over the weekend in events ranging from the Tea Dance, Jubilee Ball, Celebrating Village Talent, Country Trek, Village Church Service and a huge Village Jubilee Fun Day. The next month witnessed the village London Olympic celebration on the early evening of Friday 6th July 2012 attended by 2,500 and including the 1948 Olympic Torch.
2014 saw the first Flaming June Half Marathon held on a glorious sunny Sunday 1st June with over 650 runners running on the day. In September 2014 on a Friday evening 250 people saw the moving film ‘Warhorse‘ on a giant outdoor film screen on the Recreation Ground. The Autumn of 2015 saw the innovation of the Strawberry 50 Community Cycling Event with the Friends working in partnership with Histon & Impington Bicycle Club. The Strawberry 50 saw a choice of three routes for all types of cyclist and families and over 500 rode in the first event.
In July 2016 the Friends of the Rec organised its first Rec Summer Festival partly to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Rec redevelopment. The five day event attended by over 4,000 included a Cricket Meal with Graham Thorpe as guest, a village Rio Olympic celebration, a Summer Tea, the Indie Killers in concert, a Summer Ball and a Community Funday.
In addition to community fundraising the Friends have developed a range of new sports and exercise activities for all ages over the last decade in line with the charity’s objectives. It started with a weekly Pilates class and the portfolio of exercise and activity classes has grown each year. With the continued involvement of the now retired Village Older Persons Coordinator, Jean Newman, the numbers of older people attending has steadily increased.
One of the most pleasing achievements was the formation of Histon & Impington Stroke Action in March 2013, working with the Ely based charity Pos+Ability to provide activities sessions for stroke survivors and recoverers. These sessions are now run under the umbrella of the HI Rec Monday Club plus chair based exercise and memory & coordination activities. The Community Minibus is used to transport club users.
The Friends helped set up HI Runners in 2014 and this is now a separate affiliated running club.
In April 2018 the members of the charity decided to change the objectives of the charity to include helping the development of the potential community park project on Milton Road, Impington and to change the charity name from Friends of Histon & Impington Recreation Ground to Friends of Histon & Impington Recreation, to reflect the wider objectives of the charity.
In Spring 2018 the Friends set up Histon & Impington Community Athletics to provide coached athletic sessions for primary aged children and young people.
The Autumn of 2018 saw the Friends raise over £9k to purchase a Village Community Trishaw to take out older residents for rides. The trishaw was delivered in April 2019 and is becoming a valued resource. It is used at the newly formed HI Rec Sunshine Sports & Activity Club – a unique fully accessible and inclusive club with provision for those with memory loss and their carers.