For your information I am trying to raise money so that the area where the disabled and special needs supporters sit can be covered over. When it rains, these most special supporters get wet and there is no other place for them to go. The cost should not exceed £10,000 for both home and away areas to be covered and that is my aim. I have received nothing but support from the TUST, the club and already there have been some generous donations even though the campaign is days old. Advice has been sought from a disability group and a local builder, Neil Palmer from the South Hams will undertake the work at cost price. I have a donation page at crowdfunding.justgiving.com/sam-balsdon. To encourage donations I am hoping to complete the Spitsbergen marathon on the 4th June, the most northerly marathon in the world (on land). All other details can be found on the justgiving page.
I am of the opinion that the disabled and special needs supporters deserve the best and at the moment they do not have the same facilities as us able bodied supporters. No group of supporters locally make more effort to attend Torquay United and I think they should at least have parity, if not more.
Just a quick update. I am off tomorrow to do the marathon which is on Saturday. I would say in total about £2000 has been raised so far not all of it coming through the crowdfunding page. The final cost of the roof is likely to be nearer £7000 instead of £10,000. The conjecture over the new ground hasn't helped things. However even if we stay at Plainmoor for another two seasons, I can't walk past those special supporters sitting out in the open in the rain when I am able to walk to my seat in the dry. Plenty more funds to collect, it will all turn out OK. All the best. Sam.
Dear All, Just to let you know I managed it. Came 53 out of 57. Took 5.39.07 hours. I was the only Brit. Some didn't finish. It was really cold and I wore my Torquay United bobble hat all the way. Didn't see any bears Tomogull but plenty of reindeer. Amazing to think a bear could outrun Usain Bolt. Slept for 14 hours straight off afterwards. Not doing another marathon. Should have more updates for you regarding the roof etc. All the best. Sam
Dear All, Just to let you know, at the Argyle friendly tomorrow there is another bucket collection for putting on the roof over the disabled section of the ground. There will be several disabled supporters assisting with the collection. They are from the Hollocombe Centre who have been very supportive. Thank you. Sam
An update. It wasn't helped 5 days after announcing this project that the GI talks and potential ground move project commenced. However, now things have settled down a bit I can tell you that the home section roof should be put on soon. The steels are away for powder coating (blue and yellow) and when they come back a start will be made. A crowd funding sum of £4583 is now requested. This is because the home section only is being completed first. I have had to revise the cost for each section up to £6500 because the ongoing battle with HMRC who say that VAT will have to be paid even though the equipment is solely for disabled and special needs people. The builder - Neil Palmer - has received £1879 of the £6500 cost making a total outstanding of £4621. I owe the pot £38 given to me by a Norwegian trawler captain in Spitsbergen when I did the marathon in June making the sum required £4583. Neil Palmer will continue with the build despite being owed £4583 because he is a supporter of the cause and will be happy to receive the rest as it comes in. A very generous gesture. I have set up a new crowdfunding page today but cannot get hold of them to move the photo over and confirm they will do it for another 100 days instead of the usual 30. Even if it takes me years - this will be done for both home and away ends. However, the home end is by far the most used. Get that one out of the way and then start on the away section.
I am going to write to Sam Allardyce and perhaps some Premier League players to see if they have a spare £50 they can donate. It would be a real nice gesture if they did.
I will follow this up soon to confirm details of the crowdfunding page. TUST will be the bankers and I thank them for their support on this project. I will liaise with TUOSC at some stage to see if they can help.
I will deliver - it's just taking longer than expected.
Dear All, Despite all the shenanigans going on, this is an update to let you know the home section of the disabled enclosure has been completed and will be ready for the FGR game on Boxing Day. A new fund raising initiative will be announced soon. Whether we stay at Plainmoor or move away - please be mindful this structure is able to be dismantled and reassembled.
With all what is going on I am posting this now to let you know there is still life in the club and that at last the disabled and special needs supporters on the home section will now have equal facilities to those afforded to the able bodied.
My fund raising address is crowdfunding.justgiving.com/sam-balsdon. The builder Neil Palmer has gone ahead with the construction despite not being paid in full and is waiting for more funds to be raised.
TUOSC are going to help which will much appreciated and I continue to receive support from TUST. I am not aligned to any camp or faction at Torquay United, I am purely a supporter and this project is totally down to me. If any group or supporter of Torquay United wish to help then I am obviously very grateful.
There is still a long way to go, more funds to be raised, the away section needs completing, the toilets need upgrading. It may take time but it will be done.
Our club may be having bit of a tricky time but some of our most loyal supporters are those who week after week make their way to the disabled section accompanied in most cases by their helpers. Soupdragon has come up with a great idea. She is willing to knit blue and yellow blankets for the disabled supporters if people can donate the squares. The squares need to be 8" and any blue or yellow shade will do but preferably the historical blue and yellow (like Brazil). The idea is that these blankets will be given out on match days. They can be stored in the first aid room in bedding bags. Soupdragon says, ask you mums, aunties, grandma's to search their knitting baskets for any odd bundles of blue or yellow wool that may come in handy. Handing out blankets to our most precious supporters will give them parity with the directors on cold days. It may be late in the season but this is a superb and kind gesture from Soupdragon and will be of great enduring benefit to these supporters. I will be at the Fylde game and will be in front of the disabled area between 2.30pm and 2.45p. I wear a home made blue and yellow scarf and matching bobble hat where I can receive squares. Alternatively you can take them in to the reception 9 to 5 in the week and from 12 to 5 on matchdays.
Dear Torquayfansforum, I am trying to raise more money for the disabled who attend our matches. I have had excellent support from this forum in the past and I am hoping some of you may be interested in the latest effort. The away section still does not have a roof and the toilets are too small to allow a disabled person and their care/helper. It would be good to address these issues. The fundraising can be found here: www.gofundme.com/disabled-facilities-at-torquay-united
The roofs for these areas are portable and can be moved to a new ground if indeed that happens. This is my last marathon. In the summer I will be looking to see whether there is any funding from charities or football bodies to see whether the disabled facilities can be upgraded further. Thank you. Sam