We have seen big investments over the last ten years in the sports facilities across the district. Much of this has been led by the Shepway Sports Trust, of which I am a trustee, in particular with the creation of the Three Hills Sports centre in Folkestone, providing excellent all-weather facilities for cricket, hockey and football. Funding from the Shepway Sports Trust and the Roger De Haan Trust has also helped to support many smaller projects for clubs across the district, and to attract investment from other bodies like the Football Foundation and Sport England, the government funded agency for community sport. These have helped to create new facilities like football clubhouses in Hythe and Hawkinge. This year we should also see the opening of F51 a new urban sports park in Folkestone specialising in skate boarding, climbing and boxing. A new eight lane professional standard athletics track is also being built to complete the facilities available at the Three Hills Centre.
Whilst having great places for people to engage in sport is important, the real test is whether they are encouraging more people to join in. The national measure for monitoring participation in physical activity is the Active Lives Survey published each year by Sport England. The latest report shows an extremely positive performance from the Folkestone and Hythe district. According to the survey for the first time ever our area is above the national average in terms of the number of people doing at least 150 minutes of exercise per week. This was a result of an increase of 5% in the participation rate from 59% to 64%, a far larger increase than seen in many other districts. Historically, Folkestone and Hythe had always been in the bottom three of the thirteen districts within Kent and Medway in terms of participation levels in sport, yet we are now ranked in fifth place. This is an excellent achievement which demonstrates that improving sports infrastructure can lead to an increase in people taking part. Facilities, whilst important are not enough on their own. It also requires strong networks of coaches and volunteers to help train and motivate people back into regular sporting activity. I would like to thank everyone locally who has been involved in this process. One of the greatest areas of success has also been seen through the emergence of sports for the over 50s, and in particular walking football. You can find out more about opportunities to get involved with this at the Shepway Sports Trust website shepwaysportstrust.org.
The registration is also now open for the Folkestone Coastal 10K running race which takes place on Sunday 31st May. This well-established event has been organised for a number of years by Ray Johnson and is open to regular runners as well as people entering for the first time. Last year the race also helped raise over £30,000 in donations to charities being supported by the runners. Further details, including information about how to enter can be found on its website folkestonecoastal10k.co.uk.