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Meet Dominic Fieldhouse: InvestSK's man to enhance sports facilities across the district

In a time of rising obesity, we are all being encouraged to become more active.

But for South Kesteven District Council, the goal to promote healthy lifestyles also forms part of its wider economic ambitions.

Just as it sees the district having a flourishing arts scene and plenty of delightful heritage attractions as a way to entice businesses and people, SKDC also sees quality sports and leisure facilities as part of the package. One of the remits of InvestSK, the council's economic growth and regeneration company, is to boost the arts and sports

Dominic Fieldhouse (8297944)
Dominic Fieldhouse (8297944)

It was with that in mind that the council recently announced plans to spend tens of millions of pounds on new and improved leisure centres across the district, with new centres in Stamford and the Deepings, an enhanced facility in Bourne and possibly a new swimming pool somewhere in Grantham town centre - assuming the business case can stack up.

Part of the role for InvestSK’s new sports development officer, Dominic Fieldhouse,will be to gather the information needed to help SKDC make a better informed decision on such plans.

Dominic said: “I have always known I wanted to work in sport. It came through a passion of enjoying sports throughout childhood.”

Dominic is 28 and was born in Grantham and raised in Welbourn, between Grantham and Lincoln.

He went to Sir William Robertson Academy in Welbourn and Carre’s Grammar School in Sleaford, before studying sports development at Leeds Beckett University. After that, Dominic returned to Carre’s Grammarto work as a sports coach and fitness instructor.

The opportunity of a sports-related job at the school came up, and having known the school and its people, Dominic was keen to take it up.

Later, Dominic worked as a classroom assistant for a couple of other schools, focussing on special needs development. He was helped in this by having a sister who has a learning difficulty, which also gave him a passion in the area.

Then, in 2014, Dominic moved on to Carre’s Grammar as a physical literary coach, a role which also involved working with primary school teachers to improve their skills to deliver better PR lessons to their pupils.

Next, came a community sports project in Grantham, Positive Futures, funded by Lincolnshire County Council. The two and a half year project focussed on deterring anti-social behavour within targeted communities by developing sports projects that would boost community engagement and improve self-esteem.

Then his current role with InvestSK came on the scene.

For Dominic, the post offered a chance to better use his degree to do sports development work, whose posts largely disappeared following government funding cuts after 2008.

He explained: “My role is to reduce physical inactivity across South Kesteven, to connect groups and organisations, to provide essentially better skills and resources provision for all ages.”

Lesser known sports are also to be encouraged and activity in rural communities too.

Since starting in January, Dominic has ‘hit the ground running’ meeting a variety of sports groups, finding the sporting opportuinities available that people can exploit.

These include meeting Stamford Striders to consider the possibility of having an all-weather running track and Stamford Rugby Club about a girls' rugby event and groups in the Deepings about a green walks project.

Dominic works with InvestSK’s head of arts Michael Cross, which sees his role in developing a sports strategy for the district, working in tandem with similar council plans for an arts and culture strategy.

Such work has already seen consultation events across the district and more are planned.

“My job does involve lots of getting out of the office and meeting people,” Dominic added.

It also involves working with a variety of public sector sporting bodies such as Active Lincolnshire, which has a Physical Activity Taskforce, which aims to develop a sporting blueprint for the county, and share knowledge to develop best practice to get people more active.

He will also help groups find grant funding opportunities, as well as connect groups with others across the district.

Dominic continued: “My role in that is to be the voice of the groups we have spoken about, find out what their desires are for the new developments. But there is not an unlimited pot of money.

“We have to manage expectations. We will give people a chance to have their voices heard. I will be running some consultations around that.”

InvestSK chief executive Steve Bowyer added: “We want the leisure centres to be fit for purpose but they need to be viable. The more we can demonstrate the facilities are needed and fit for purpose, the better. It’s about making informed decisions about what we have to offer.

“Dominic is an ear to the ground. The plans are developing well. The next stage is working through their recommendations to build the viability and the desirability of them and how they will be operated.”

“Everything InvestSK has become involved in, such as the visitor economy, we have found the passion is

“People are keen to do stuff. They just need a bit of guidance and help or connection to make it happen.”

Questions or ideas about the leisure centres can be e-mailed to enhancingleisure@southkesteven.gov.uk

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