Disabled couple face losing hobby if St Ives gun club is evicted

SHOOTING club members – including a disabled man who faces losing his hobby – have made a fresh appeal for the funds to find a new home.

St Ives District Rifle and Pistol Club is to be evicted from St Ives One Leisure as part of a revamp of its facilities.

The club needs to find up to �100,000 for a new range after Huntingdonshire District Council revealed plans to replace the club’s shooting range with a bowling alley, ending its 37-year history with the complex.

Member Philip Tatt, 54, of Linlithgow Close, Papworth Everard, can move only a thumb and a finger on one hand but can still fire a gun after one of the club’s secretaries, John Wheelan, developed a rifle for him to use.

“I never thought I could do it,” Mr Tatt said. “When I joined there two years ago, the club members tried to find ways I could shoot, and now I have a specially modified gun.

“Because of their help, I now compete in tournaments, and for the first time I am able to compete on an equal level to everybody else. If the club ends, I will lose a part of my life, as it’s not just shooting, there’s a real community at the club.

“I don’t know where there is another indoor shooting club, but I do know of plenty bowling alleys nearby for people to use.”

Most Read

His wife, Trish, 52, who is also in a wheelchair, had been shooting with the club for a year when Philip joined.

The facilities are also used by other groups. Steven Kelly, assistant Scout leader in St Ives, said: “Under club supervision, the Cubs/Scouts, some with disabilities, have looked forward to using the range every year.

“I was under the impression this year of the Olympics that we would be promoting these activities, not ripping them down. The loss of the club would be a loss to the community.”

Since the council’s announcement of plans to refurbish One Leisure, the club said it had seen membership drop from 60 to about 45.

Terry Smith, the club’s secretary, said the group had found a new building in the Alconbury airbase, but it would cost between �65,000 and �80,000 plus VAT to open a range.

He said: “We feel that, as we have been part of the centre for 37 years, the council has a moral obligation to pay towards our move. We will look for grants from the Lottery and Sport England to help us raise the money we need.”

A district council spokesman said: “We have made no allocation of money for the relocation of the club. However, we have been helping them to find a new building and the suitability of other sites.”

Other changes at One Leisure St Ives would see the Impressions Fitness Studio and Taurus Weights Room combined on the second floor, new disabled changing facilities and shower cubicles built, and two aerobic studios created.