A SERIES of athletics events for primary school children is returning to County Durham with a new high-profile venue and aspirations to involve more participants than ever.

The Durham Dash! and Sedgefield Dash! will see thousands of seven to 11-year-olds compete in athletics events, building up to two finals nights in June.

For the first time, the Durham finals night will be held at Beamish Museum, near Chester-le-Street.

Catherine Rice, learning co-ordinator at Beamish Museum, adds: “Beamish is very excited to be hosting the Durham Dash finals for the first time.

“We’re really looking forward to welcoming local school children to the museum for this fantastic event.

“Our open air museum is enjoyed by schools and families throughout the year and we hope our Edwardian Town street will provide a unique finish line to the races.”

Launched in 2012 and inspired by the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Warrens Dash! events are delivered by Durham and Chester-le-Street School Sport Partnership (DCSSP) and Sedgefield School Sport Partnership with support from title sponsor the Warrens Group, and many local companies.

On Friday, pupils from Beamish Primary School visited Beamish Museum for a training session and a preview of the new finals venue.

They also met museum staff and enjoyed an insight into how schools approached sport and physical education in the Edwardian era.

Now in its ninth year, the event has grown into one of the region’s biggest youth sports initiatives.

Around 400 children took part in the first one in 2012 and in 2018, over 1,200 young people from 60 County Durham schools participated in the finals.

The children ran, jumped and threw in a series of heats, building up to two nights of finals, in Sedgefield and Durham.

Organisers are hoping that even more children will get involved this year.

Chris Boundy of DCSSP said: “It is a brilliant initiative to get children excited about athletics at an early age and to encourage them to be more active more often.

“Since 2012, we’ve seen the project go from strength to strength, with some fantastic engagement from local schools and vital support from the business community.

“We’re absolutely delighted to have Beamish Museum on board as the prestigious new venue for our Durham final.

“We hope that taking part in a fun inter-school athletics festival in a living museum setting will become a ‘must do’ activity.

“Combining local history and sport will offer a unique experience that will live in the memory of the children for years to come.”

Warrens Group is a long-established North East food recycling company that does extensive work in the region’s schools, to improve engagement and knowledge about sustainable waste management.

Adam Warren, one of the the firm’s directors, added: “Dash! offers the chance to promote positive lifestyle choices for local schoolchildren and their families and this is something that Warrens Group is very passionate about, so it was a no-brainer to get involved. We work closely with many schools throughout Durham on initiatives to promote health and wellbeing and to help raise awareness for tackling food poverty. Encouraging an active lifestyle from an early age is a really important part of this.”