WIDNES Vikings have launched a new foundation to oversee its Vikings in the Community programme.

Following advice from the Rugby Football League, the club is launching the Valhalla Foundation and has appointed Pat Cluskey as the organisation's chief executive.

The Vikings in the Community programme was originally established in 2002 through £250,000 worth of funding received from the Government and the European Union over three years.

Additional funding of £250,000 has been received via the government's Neighbourhood Renewal Fund to ensure the sustainability of the programme to the present day as well as various sums from external organisations.

Since its inception, the club's community department has expanded from one member of staff to five and it is now felt that the time is right for Vikings to establish a trust to capitalise on the funding opportunities available to not-for-profit organisations.

The new foundation should be operational in summer and will continue the work started by Vikings in the Community by delivering sports and educational activity that is engaging and fun for children with courses run by Tim Holmes, John Foran, Martin Davidson and Michele Carter.

Using the Vikings team as inspiration, the foundation will aim to encourage participation in sports whilst also encouraging healthy lifestyles and good citizenship - using players as role models.

The foundation will also aim to deliver sporting services to the wider community and help amateur clubs raise money to improve facilities and train staff.

Partners in the foundation will include Halton Borough Council, Cheshire Police, Halton Primary Care Trust, Riverside College and Halton Education Department.