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Saturday, 23 May 2015

Olympic legacy ace saves village tennis club

THANKS to a bumper grant from Sport England, Riding Mill Tennis Club has been saved from closure.

And the tennis club is only one of the Tynedale sports club celebrating, with major cash boosts also going to development at Hexham Squash Club, Haltwhistle Swimming and Leisure Centre, Corbridge Cricket Club and Allendale Golf Club.

This is all thanks to Olympic legacy funding from Sport England, the five local projects benefiting from a share of the organisation’s Inspired Facilities fund.

As part of the £135m Places, People, Play legacy programme to bring the magic of a home Olympic and Paralympic Games into communities across the country, the Tynedale clubs will now carry the London 2012 Inspire mark.

After more than six decades of tennis in Riding Mill, the village was close to losing the sport as the courts had seriously deteriorated and become unplayable.

But the Sport England funding has come to the rescue and will be spent on resurfacing three courts, adapting one into a multi-sports use games area, new fencing, signage and revamping the clubhouse.

On top of the £38,000 from the national body, the community rallied around to help raise £14,000 for the project which will begin in spring.

Riding Mill becomes the third tennis club from Tynedale to receive Inspired Facilities funding following successful bids from Corbridge and Tynedale.

Committee member Sheilagh Matheson said: “This is the biggest ever investment in the courts, and it should secure the club’s future for at least ten years – the normal lifespan for top quality tennis courts.

“It means young people in the village and surrounding areas will have excellent tennis facilities, which should encourage them to enjoy sport and improve the competence of their play.

“We are a family friendly club, which means everyone is welcome, from complete beginners to team players.”

Membership at Corbridge Cricket Club has increased significantly over the past five years and the funding will go towards upgrading the facilities at their base at The Stanners to meet the extra demand.

While the club needs to find a further £40,000 to complete the project, the Sport England funding will help provide bigger and better changing rooms, showers, officials’ room and a much needed storage area.

The work will bring the club’s facilities into line with the England Cricket Board’s quality and space standards.

Club secretary, Michael Robinson, said: “The £50,000 Sport England grant is fantastic news for the club and, hopefully, will persuade other funders that our project is worth supporting.

“The club have worked very hard to improve their playing and practice facilities over the past six years or so and to be able to improve our changing facilities as well would be a marvellous achievement for a small village cricket club like ours.”

A major refurbishment will be carried out at Hexham Squash Club, in Spital Road, with the courts and men’s changing facilities to receive a makeover.

The work will include new side and back court walls, two new floors, an improved lighting system, and roof and wall insulation.

The funding will help chairman Jim Chambers’s tireless drive to develop squash in the area, more juniors playing the sport than ever before due to his recruitment skills.

He said: “We are delighted to have secured this investment which will ensure the future of the club, making it much more attractive to both existing and new members.

“It places the club in a good position to develop additional interest in the sport locally as a result of press coverage to promote the bid to include squash in the Olympics and Commonwealth Games.”

Two unused squash courts at Haltwhistle Leisure Centre will be transformed into a more practicable, and attractive, fitness studio to help increase usage.

The dingy courts had grown into a state of disrepair, but an improvement of the space should see more sporting activity take place there.

The £50,000 Sport England fund will provide a big help to the £75,000 project to renovate the space, along with a connecting corridor, and breathe new life into the venue.

Manager Nick Woof said:“It is absolutely brilliant and the impact of this project will be massive and will hopefully increase participation in the centre by allowing us to move specific exercise groups and classes from the main sports hall.

“We will use the area for more dance and aerobic classes and they will be able to use a much nicer area.”

Allendale Golf Club is to receive £31,158 of the National Lottery funding to upgrade the facilities at the clubhouse at High Studdon.

The provision of a state-of-the-art catering kitchen will enable the club, which already has an enviable catering reputation among visiting golf parties, to offer visitors and members an even better dining experience.

In addition, a new central heating system will capitalise on the power generated by the wind turbine erected in 2011 and a small permanent facilities building will replace the current temporary structure.

Club chairman Colin Wraith said: “We are delighted to have secured this investment, which means we can upgrade the quality of our premises to match the quality of our golf course.

“Our membership is on the increase and these improved facilities will be a fitting legacy of the 2012 Olympics, particularly for our junior members”

The sports development team at North Country Leisure has played a big role in helping the clubs gain the funding by working closely with those associated.

The team is keen to show it is there for the local sporting community and can help with any development needs.

Any organisations requiring assistance with applications for further Inspired Facilities or playing pitch funding from Sport England, or Sportivate funding for those aged between 14 and 25, can get in touch on (01434) 613220 or email: sports.development@northcountryleisure.org.uk.