Junior fencing began again at the Brixton Fencing Club on 21 April after sporting lessons had to pause during the pandemic. The Imperium Sessions, which are free lessons offered to local school children, also restarted on 23 April.
The Imperium Sessions are designed to encourage participation by children from the who might not otherwise have access to a sport like fencing. These sessions are funded by the Leus Family Foundation, founded by Dmitry Leus, former European fencing champion.
Some flexibility has been needed to get the children back into their sport as the lockdown has eased. Brixton Fencing Club’s usual venue in the Recreation Centre is still being used as a food bank and so the fencing lessons have been moved to 5-a-side football pitch.
The Fencing Club say that this temporary venue has been a good enough substitute with the lower numbers that lessons may accommodate at this stage in the UK’s lifting of the lockdown.
Chris Tidmarsh QC, Committee Chair of the Brixton Fencing Club, explained:
“Before 21 April we ran online exercise classes which worked well, but the juniors are clearly delighted to be back in person to renew their techniques and their friendships.
We still have to observe many requirements such as social distancing, risk checks and attendance of COVID officer at every session, but the children’s enthusiasm makes it all worthwhile.”
Dmitry Leus, who is also Honorary President and Patron of the Brixton Fencing Club, commented on his foundation’s support for the drive to get local school children back to their free sessions:
“The pandemic has been especially hard on the youngest members of our society, especially with months of in-person schooling missed. We know the lockdown hit the most vulnerable the hardest.
For our Foundation to help in any small way to get kids exercising, building confidence and learning the skills and discipline that we gain from sport – for me that is incredibly meaningful.
Fencing transformed my own life as a child and I love to see the same impact taking place with children in London.”
Chris Tidmarsh QC added:
“None of this would be possible without the sterling support of Dmitry and the staff at the Brixton Recreation Centre. Dmitry’s sponsorship of the Imperium Sessions allows us to offer free fencing lessons to local school children.
Also, when our Fencing Club faced difficulties during the pandemic, as our expenses exceeded our income, Dmitry’s Foundation stood firmly by our side offering financial support to keep our community sporting association going.”