THE Darlington-based Quakers Running Club, awarded a Lottery grant of £3,705 for the purchase of specialist athletics gear, has had the last piece of equipment delivered to its taining base.

As part of the submission made by the club for the grant, the close ties between the running club and its training base, Hummersknott School, Edinburgh Drive, Darlington, were emphasised with the view to the development of young athletes within the local community.

The club liaised with the school in order to determine which type of equipment would be the most beneficial to both causes. Quakers offered Hummersknott School the use of the equipment in the hope that youngsters would then be encouraged to pursue a long-term interest in athletics as a sport and not just a lesson.

The type of equipment that was felt was needed ranged from small items such as medicine balls and discus to larger items like hurdles and the largest and most expensive of all, a high jump landing area.

Said the club's Keith Shevells: "As a relatively new and rapidly expanding club we feel that by getting the youngsters of the local community interested is a major part of not only our own future development, but to the benefit of the community and the sport in general."

The Quakers club was formed in 1995 with a membership of just six, and was originally based at the Cleveland Structural Sports and Social Club in Darlington, until relocation to its current training headquarters, Hummersknott School, Darlington, in March 1999.

In the summer of 1998 a junior section was added to the club. This was seen as a positive step to introduce and encourage children between the ages of eight and 16 years of age to 'try the sport' and the junior section now accounts for approximately 50 per cent of the club's membership, which currently is more than 270 members.

At present the club boasts staff of 17 qualified coaches specialising in a wide range of disciplines from sprints to ultra distance running, including field events, as well as more diverse disciplines such as fell running, strength and conditioning and orienteering.

The club holds its evening group training sessions at the grounds of Hummersknott School on a Tuesday and Thursday evening for a 6:45pm start. In addition, the club organises a weekly circuit training session at Carmel School gym each Wednesday evening at 7pm.

There are also two Sunday morning running groups, catering for differing abilities and levels of fitness who enjoy a weekly long run of between five and 15 miles.