2018 marks 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 for short. 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 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 five 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 for the country with the Jubilee and London Olympics, and the Friends of the Rec took full advantage. The Jubilee Weekend in June 2012 saw what is 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. A wonderful two and half hours followed before rain caused a premature ending. In all 2,500 attended including over 1,000 children from local schools.
2014 saw the first Flaming June Half Marathon held on a glorious sunny Sunday 1st June with over 650 runners running on the day. A few weeks later saw heavy downpours dampen the village’s celebration of the Tour de France. 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 and to do something a little different. 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 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 which includes chair based exercise and memory & coordination activities.
The Friends helped set up HI Runners in 2014 and this is now a separate affiliated running club. In March 2014 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 the Bypass Farm site in the North of Histon 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. Now that the Bypass Farm option has been withdrawn, the Friends is looking at updating its objectives and constitution at the AGM in Spring 2018, to possibly support the new Community Park project at Milton Road, Impington.
In the Spring of 2018 the Friends are setting up Histon & Impington Community Athletics to provide coached athletic sessions for primary aged children and young people.