A SPORTS body which aims to improve the health and well-being of North Yorkshire residents has won charitable status.

North Yorkshire Sport is now a company limited by guarantee with charitable status, and an event was held in Westminster today (Tuesday, April 1) to celebrate its transformation.

The event was hosted by Andrew Jones, MP for Harrogate and Knaresbrough, and Parliamentary Sports Champion for North Yorkshire.

The aim of North Yorkshire Sport is to promote healthy lifestyles to reduce inequality and generate economic benefit.

Since 2006 more than £4m has been invested by Sport England through North Yorkshire Sport to support sport in North Yorkshire.

Sport participation rates across North Yorkshire have risen from 23.5 per cent in 2005 to 28.7 per cent in 2013.

Other key successes include supporting more than 3,000 coaches through education and training; the establishment of 18 new clubs in secondary schools; and more opportunities for school sport competition.

David Watson, chief executive of North Yorkshire Sport, said: “We have been tasked by national partners such as Sport England to engage and inspire people to participate more in sport and to lead healthier and active lives.

“We believe that the transformation to a charitable body will help us considerably in achieving this goal and make us more responsive to the local community.

“The charitable status will make it easier for local businesses to work with and support us and we have already had two companies stepping forward to invest and support the work that we do.”

Mr Jones said: “North Yorkshire Sport plays a critical role in driving and co-ordinating local partners to achieve great things within our community across sport, health and education.

“The success of national sport, education and health programmes can only be achieved by shaping the offer to the local community and over the past ten years North Yorkshire Sport has achieved considerable success in driving local community participation.”

Representatives of the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust attended the launch to announce the first Get on Track programme in North Yorkshire, which will be launched in Scarborough in June.