Children at Ferndale Primary School in Great Barr are raising money to go towards installing an all-weather pitch on the school field.

Local businesses are also being invited to support the project. To help towards the fundraising, pupils and staff this week (Monday 19 March) took part in an obstacle course challenge in the hall.

The Football Association (FA) is leading the Mini Pitches initiative in conjunction with The Premier League and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). The school is one of only seven in the country that has been selected from more than 19,000 that originally applied to be part of the project and 65 that were shortlisted.

This followed a successful bid written by the headteacher Ruth Gillett. Staff and pupils are working had to raise £20,000 to go towards the pitch.

The school has already managed to raise just over £10,000 with events planned to help raise more over the coming months.

If the school is able to raise the money, the rest of the cost of the project, estimated to be in excess of £80,000, will be met with a grant from the Football Foundation.

Ruth said she is keen to get local businesses involved too. She said: "The mini pitch is very much needed at Ferndale as our fields are very water-logged and unusable for much of the year. "The pitch will not only benefit the school children as it will also be available to the local community and sports groups. "Our school community has been so generous and I've been really touched that a couple of children have donated some of their pocket money to the cause. "If there are any local businesses out there that can help us raise the rest of the money, we would be very grateful." Councillor Simon Hackett, Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for children's services, visited the school on Monday. He said: "Staff, children, parents and carers have done an amazing job in raising money for the mini pitch. Having seen the enthusiasm for myself I am confident that they will get to their target. "The mini pitch will ensure the children at the school and the local community will have the chance to be more active and healthy using state-of-the-art facilities."

The school has many other fundraising events planned including discos, cake sales and raffles. To get involved, donate or learn more about the project,

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Sandwell Council has extended its popular free swimming scheme for young people and those aged 60-plus.

Cabinet member Councillor Paul Moore confirmed the council is extending the scheme for a further two years.

Young people aged 16 and under living in Sandwell can currently swim for free at any public swimming session at Sandwell leisure centres in the school holidays.

Older people living in Sandwell – aged 60-plus – can also swim for free up to 1pm daily all year round.

More than 7,500 adults and more than 28,000 children and young people have become members of the scheme since it was launched in June 2013.

Since the scheme was extended in April 2015, eligible people have enjoyed nearly 250,000 free swims.

Recent surveys have also showed that people aged 60-plus and 16 and under swim more often when free swimming is available, with older people keen to boost their health and young people enjoying socialising with others and improving their swimming ability and confidence in water.

Councillor Moore said: “We have extended our free public swimming scheme, which has been a great success over the past five years. “Swimming is not only fun but also has big benefits for people’s physical and mental health. “It's good news that we have been able to extend the scheme until 2020, working with Sandwell Leisure Trust and Places for People Leisure which run swimming centres in Sandwell."

A report on the proposed extension of the free swimming programme was approved at today's cabinet meting (21 March).

Over the next two years, the FA is investing £1.5 million into the Football Foundation’s Grow the Game Scheme to encourage ‘not for profit' organisations to set up one or more new football teams for two underrepresented groups - Women and Girls (age 7 up) and Disabled People.

Grow the Game grants of £1,500 will help to meet the costs associated with starting new grassroots football teams and can cover a range of expenditure including:

• Facility hire

• Hire of FA qualified coaches

• Referees fees

• CRB checks

• Affiliation fees

• League entry

• First aid kits

• Promotion and publicity

• FA coaching courses

The costs of football kit and equipment can also be covered through a bespoke voucher.

Organisations eligible to apply will be:

• Football Clubs

• Youth Clubs with a football programme

• Futsal Clubs

• Community groups/centre/clubs

• Charitable Organisations

• Parish Councils and Local Authorities

• Sports Associations and Multi-sports clubs

• Professional Club Community Schemes

• Companies limited by guarantee and Industrial and provident societies

• Unincorporated not-for-profit organisations

• University and College Teams playing in FA affiliated community leagues This round of funding closes on Thursday 29th March.

The next application deadline for Stage 1 applications to the Royal British Legion's external grants scheme is the 27th April 2018.

Grants of up to £50,000 are available to any not-for-profit or non-statutory organisation running, or planning, charitable activities in support of the Armed Forces community.

Priority will be given to projects or services supporting the following outcome themes:

• Employment and training;

• Family support;

• Homelessness and outreach;

• Supporting the elderly.

Grants awarded in 2016 included:

• X-Forces, a pilot, an enterprise training workshop at four Pop In Centres for Armed Forces community offering advice and support in setting up businesses and teaching the skills needed to succeed.

• Reading Force, to design and provide scrapbooks for children which helps to capture shared memories and creates a book for them and their Service parent deployed on operations to read.

Organisations successful at Stage 1 of the application process will be invited to submit a Stage 2 application.

The deadline for Stage 2 applications is the 2nd July 2018.

Individuals and local groups that would like to hold an event to celebrate Armed Forces Day – Saturday 30th June 2018 - can apply for funding from the Ministry of Defence.

The event can be anywhere in the UK and the funding can be used for celebrations such as (but not limited to):

• A picnic in the park

• Themed BBQ

• Knees up in your living room

• Street party or fête Applicants should try to hold their event on or in the weeks around Armed Forces Day.

The amount of funding the MoD will provide must cover 50% or less of the total costs of running the event.

Event organisers should in the first instance register their event on the Armed Forces Day website and apply before Monday 30 April 2018.