TWELVE local rising sporting stars have been given free leisure centre membership thanks to a scheme run by Wyre Forest District Council and Places for People Leisure Management Ltd.

The scheme, called Access Gold, provides selected young people within the area with a free year’s membership to Stourport Leisure Centre and the Glades Leisure Centre, Kidderminster.

Each one plays a sport at county, West Midlands or international level.

The scheme aims to support and develop local sporting talent within the Wyre Forest area and includes free access to the fitness and swimming facilities.

To be eligible for the scheme the members must be a resident of the Wyre Forest Area and be participating at county level or above with the aim to develop themselves further in their sport. The scheme was open to anyone up to the age of 19.

The 12 include athlete Sam Lloyd-Perks, judo twins Rachel and Sally Moon, Kidderminster and Stourport AC's Ed Fussi ,who is county 100m and 200m champion, hockey keeper Alexander Cook, as well as Kidderminster Victoria duo George Hatfield and Jack Beadsworth.

Kickboxer Jack Baylis, Samurai Judo Club's Sarah Biles, swimmer Megan Tinsdale, Stourport Tennis Club's Michael James Cox and squash player Thomas Griffiths have also been called up to the scheme.

Lloyd-Perks said: “The access gold scheme has given me the opportunity to improve a number of different aspects of my sport." I use the facilities 3-4 times a week and already I have seen improvements in my performances.”

Another youngster benefiting from the Access Gold scheme and a member of Kidderminster and Stourport Athletics Club, Ed Fussi said: “The scheme helps me reach my targets by improving my ability. The membership allows me to develop my strength which will make me achieve my goals."

Applications for next year's scheme will be available from wyreforest in November.