A SPECIALIST sports centre offering activities for all has launched a £60,000 appeal to help it reach out to more disabled users.

Oxsrad, the Oxford and District Sports and Recreation Association for the Disabled, has helped disabled Oxfordshire residents for 23 years.

It is the second fundraising campaign in two years, after supporters saved it from the brink of closure in 2010.

Now staff say the building is starting to look rundown and new equipment is desperately needed.

They hope the spirit of the Paralympics will spur people on to help them.

Manager Sax Saxton said: “We would love to raise £60,000, which would allow us to complete our wish list for the centre. Things are in desperate need of repair, so a big proportion of that money would be spent on new gym equipment.

“We also need a new projector and equipment for our sensory room, better access for the spa bath and just generally new carpet and paint.”

He added: “And we desperately need a new hoist which allows us to get people out of their wheelchairs and on to equipment. That’s really important.”

Oxsrad, which is funded by grants, activity fees and donations, was opened in 1989 by Princess Diana and now has more than 400 regular users, along with dozens of disabled groups.

But it was on the brink of closure in August 2010 when staff were ordered to pay a £48,000 unpaid bill for two photocopiers.

The bill was settled in May last year after a huge fundraising effort and months of negotiations.

Mr Saxton said: “I honestly don’t know what people would have done if we had closed. We’re the only place like this in Oxford.

“It’s not what we do, it’s how we do it. People come into a relaxed environment and it’s all about integration.

“This money would allow us to keep doing that for the next five years at least.”

Fundraising events include an endurance events weekend, starting on October 19, with dozens of supporters taking part in sponsored events.

There will also be a fashion show in aid of the appeal in November and concerts are planned for December.

Jane Slade, 56, from Cowley, uses the centre’s gym twice a week. She was left paralysed from the waist down after suffering an aneurysm on Christmas Day in 2009.

She told the Oxford Mail last month: “When it first happens you think you’re in the chair and that’s it, you’ll never be able to do anything.

“But after going to Oxsrad, I’ve grown in confidence and I’m able to pedal myself backwards and half way forwards on the machines now.

“I never thought I would be able to do that.”

lTo make a donation to Oxsrad, visit localgiving.com/charity/oxsrad or send a cheque to Oxsrad, Marsh Lane, Marston, OX3 ONQ