By David Gold

thomas_cook_childrens_charity_03-08-11August 4 - Thomas Cook Children's Charity has joined forces with Sport England to offer £500,000 ($820,500/€575,000) to the Inspired Facilities fund for the improvement of sporting opportunities for disadvantaged youngsters across the country.

Inspired Facilities is part of the Places People Play legacy programme, which aims to bring the Olympic and Paralympic Games to communities across the country, investing £50 million ($82 million/€57 million) from the National Lottery through five rounds of funding.

Local sports clubs and facilities have the chance to apply for investment from the Thomas Cook Children's Charity if their project can be demonstrated to benefit disadvantaged youngsters.

Vice-chairman of Thomas Cook Children's Charity Pip Tyler said: "We are proud to be working in partnership with Sport England and have allocated £500,000 of our charitable funds to help invest in our sports stars of the future.

"As Thomas Cook is one of the key sponsors of the 2012 Olympics, we are keen to nurture home grown talent and ensure sporting opportunities are accessible in the most deprived areas of England."

Sport England chair Richard Lewis added: "We are really pleased to be working with Thomas Cook Children's Charity to deliver improved sporting opportunities for disadvantaged young people across the country.

"Building partnerships, like this, are essential if we are to create a world-leading community sport system and deliver a lasting grassroots legacy from London 2012."

Up to £35 million ($57 million/€40 million) of the funds available will be going directly to community and voluntary organisations with grants ranging from £20,000 - £50,000 ($33,000 - 82,000/€23,000 - €57,000) available, and the remainder of the money will be open to a wider group of councils, schools and similar organisations for up to £150,000 ($246,000/€172,000) per grant.

The investment can help to renovate tired facilities, making them more cost effective and easy to maintain, as well as restoring the clubs to the heart of their communities.

Hugh Robertson, the Minister for Sport and the Olympics, said: "This £50 million fund is a huge boost to community sport.

"It will transform local sports facilities up and down the country and leave a lasting legacy from London 2012 at a local level."

The programme is designed in such a way that it is accessible and straightforward for groups who may not have applied for public funds before, as well as the opportunity for successful applicants to use pre-appointed contractors rather than embark on lengthy procurement processes.

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