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National sports charity Tennis For Free has served up an ace for Prestwich, starting this Sunday (24 Sep, 2-4pm) at St Mary’s Park. The charity is working with Bury Council and the LTA to provide a full year of coach-led tennis sessions for all the family. You don’t need a racquet or a tennis ball, as all equipment is provided free of charge. The timing of the launch couldn’t be better, as the courts were refurbished only a few weeks ago. Local tennis coach and lead site organiser Paul Jepson said: “We are all very excited to welcome Tennis For Free to St Mary’s Park. It is a fantastic opportunity for all members of the local community to get into the spirit of trying tennis for either the first time or to dust off the cobwebs and try again. The new courts look great and we look forward to welcoming local people to the sessions.” Tennis For Free is a registered charity founded by comedian Tony Hawks and fashion executive Patrick Hollwey. It aims to create healthy, vibrant local tennis communities for free on public park tennis courts creating new tennis players of all ages and backgrounds, and showing that tennis can be enjoyed by all. Tennis For Free supporters include Judy Murray (mother of World No.1 Andy), BBC tennis commentator Andrew Castle and ex Grand Slam winner Pat Cash. Paul Jessop, Tennis For Free CEO, said: “With support from the LTA and local partners, St Mary’s is just one of hundreds more schemes we are planning within the next five years including many more across the North West. All of our sessions are very well suited to the whole family coming down and all playing tennis at the same time. There are no catches, and all equipment is provided.” Samuel Foakes, LTA Regional Tennis Participation Manager, said: “We are very excited about the free activities being created for people to play tennis in Prestwich through the Tennis for Free programme. The park has really accessible facilities in the heart of the community. Having easy access to local good park facilities where you can play informally with your family and friends is really important in encouraging people to play. And with Tennis for Free offering free sessions every weekend, people will be able to meet and make new friends, get fit and have some fun and all for no cost.” Councillor Andrea Simpson, cabinet member for health and wellbeing at Bury Council, said: “The Tennis for Free programme is a great way for families to try out the sport. It’s free, it’s fun and it gets people out into the fresh air in one of our welcoming local parks. With all the benefits that getting moving brings, like feeling fitter and stronger and boosting our wellbeing, I hope that lots of families sign up to this free scheme. Come along and give it a go – there’s nothing to lose and so much to gain.”



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