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11th April 2022

A Louth-based bouldering gym climbs its way back into business thanks to £160,000 RLS investment

A Louth-based climbing gym is set to open a second site in Lincoln city centre thanks to a £160,000 investment.

Darren Thompson, owner of Ascend Climbing Gym has received funding from First Enterprise – Enterprise Loans through the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF) and the Community Investment Enterprise Facility (CIEF), backed by the Recovery Loan Scheme (RLS).

The Lincolnshire bouldering only climbing gym will use the finance to kit out their new site and offer a range of new wall layouts, whilst focusing on providing young people with the chance to experience and progress in the sport.

Ascend Climbing Gym provides an accessible route into climbing for novices and a variety of challenges for experienced climbers, with a welcoming atmosphere for climbers of all levels.

In 2019 Darren opened the Louth-based climbing gym, with plans in 2020 to open a site in Lincoln city centre. After being severely impacted by COVID-19, the company was forced to delay the opening of their Lincoln city centre site due to the strict lockdown rules.

Despite the challenges faced by Darren, Ascend Climbing Gym is now able to expand to Lincoln city centre.

Darren Thompson, Director at Ascend Climbing Gym, commented:

"First Enterprise enabled me to expand my climbing gym business by building a second gym, this has safeguarded our business and the jobs of our staff whilst creating several new jobs."

Matthew Wright, Investment Manager at First Enterprise - Enterprise Loans, commented:

We at First Enterprise-Enterprise Loans are delighted to be able to support Darren in opening his new city centre branch. With restrictions now eased, hustle and bustle is returning to town centres and having a climbing gym is a great addition to the already superb city that is Lincoln.

Lewis Stringer, Senior Manager UKN at the British Business Bank, said: The investment from the MEIF will help Ascend Climbing Gym open its second Lincolnshire site, providing a boost to Lincoln city centre and creating new jobs. We would encourage businesses across the County looking to grow and invest to approach First Enterprise and the other MEIF fund managers.” 

Pat Doody, Chair of the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “The pandemic had a severe impact on many businesses, but among the most badly affected were hospitality venues and gyms.

“Darren’s climbing gym was clearly affected by Covid restrictions so it’s great to see the business bouncing back with the help of First Enterprise – Enterprise Loans and the Midlands Engine Investment Fund.

“Physical exercise is also very important for mental health so we’re doubly pleased to see that Ascend Climbing Gym is expanding and giving more people the chance to try climbing in a safe environment.”

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