The Fernhurst Recreation Ground Trust (Charity number 1185601) is seeking funding to dramatically improve the village's sports pavilion to serve the football, cricket, tennis and stool ball clubs, in addition to the broader local community.
The existing 1970s pavilion is no longer fit for purpose. It can no longer cope with the numbers of sports being played at the ground nor the range of activities held there. Following a concerted drive to increase the scale of participation in sports at the recreation ground over the past ten years, club membership has increased dramatically from a position where it looked as though the football and cricket clubs were in danger of folding.
Total club membership now stands at 800 but the pavilion has capacity for only 40. Moreover, access for the disabled is inadequate, facilities very male biased, and provision for children sub-standard, especially in the light of important legislation regarding safe-guarding. An important part of the rural community, we provide facilities for several local parishes that are officially in the 10% most deprived of services in England.
Over the last decade, the trustees have revitalised the sports’ clubs by investing in the complete relaying, levelling and draining of the football pitch, two hard cricket nets and three hard tennis courts. Sports participation is now at an all-time high, attracting players of all ages and families from the surrounding villages as well as Fernhurst residents. However, without a new pavilion which meets current needs, the investment in sport made over the last ten years will not realise its full potential.
Financing the new pavilion will cost in the region of £900k and, with all the competing demands on sports governing bodies, we know that a large chunk of this will need to come from the generosity of villagers, friends, or even complete strangers who recognize the value of sport to the community. Sadly the "can't you just get it from the Lottery" myth perpetuates, but it just isn't that easy and if we want to deliver the village with the pavilion that it deserves, we will need to do the vast majority of the work ourselves in the form of (ever more inventive!)fundraising efforts and events.
Times have certainly changed since our original pavilion was built and, whilst it has served us well, the existing building just isn't up to scratch as far as modern expectations are concerned. Standards regarding shower, toilet and changing facilities have changed dramatically over the past 50 years, as have the various regulations laid down by sports governing bodies regarding what has to be in place. Environmental health considerations also have to be taken into account, as our catering capabilities are judged by the same standards as a commercial enterprise.
Run entirely by volunteers the various sport and leisure clubs that use the facilities in Fernhurst have flourished in recent years. There were some dark years around 2010 when membership had dwindled to an unsustainable level, but timely measures taken by the Trustees and the sports clubs have seen a complete transformation.
The creation of a tennis club, with three excellent courts, has seen many new faces arrive with a substantial membership to boot. More significantly the diversity of tennis, as opposed to some of the traditionally male dominated sports, has really highlighted the need for our pavilion to cater to a much more diverse membership. The limited capabilities of our kitchen have also been put to the test, and found wanting, by the demands of our tennis players.
A new fully drained football pitch, and the creation of a junior section, has been absolutely transformational for our football club. The junior membership rapidly rose to well over a hundred children, placing significant challenges on the infrastructure of the pavilion and its sports fields. The club reacted brilliantly by bringing in more volunteers, coaches and obtaining Charter status, but being able to change and socialise during those cold damp winter months in a shiny new pavilion would be a very welcome reward.
The new cricket nets and, like football, the creation of a new junior section also saw vast changes for our cricket club. Now there are three senior sides, five junior sides and most recently of all the emergence of a ladies side. The club has responded by pursuing the demanding ECB Clubmark qualification, actively recruiting more volunteers and making sure that increasing numbers of their coaches have formal ECB qualification. However, providing changing and catering facilities for such a large group is pretty much impossible in the constrained quarters of the old pavilion.
Stoolball is also a very important part of the summer scene at Fernhurst's recreation ground. The club takes part in several tournaments throughout the year, preserving interest in one of the less well known, but beautifully traditional English sports. As with the tennis and cricket clubs, the stoolballers have to try to squeeze into the limited facilities offered by our aged pavilion, which really wasn't designed to have more than one activity going on at a time.
In addition to the various sports activities, the pavilion also hosts social gatherings, bridge clubs, yoga, aerobics, creches, and parties for special events. As a vital part of the local community, we want to make sure that the facility is able to support local needs and become a hub for local social activities. We have found that an engaged village, with a strong capability to play sport and socialise together, has brought people together in a pronounced community spirit whilst also reducing levels of petty vandalism or anti-social activities.
Fernhurst has been transformed by the success of its sports and leisure activities, with any Saturday morning at the village green being a clear demonstration of this. Perhaps over a hundred children playing football or cricket, whilst tennis matches take place, aerobics classes trot around the perimeter, and parents gather to drink a coffee, eat a bacon roll, or just catch up on the latest gossip.
Help us to deliver the final piece of the jigsaw in the shape of a new pavilion, which will ensure that we can provide the village with a building to be proud of and preserve all the hard work that has been done to create such a successful community.
Disclaimer : No raffles, sweepstakes, giveaways or promotions are offered in exchange for any donations made to this GoFundMe.
- Tom Henry
- Roger Cripps
- Camilla Ghosh
FERNHURST RECREATION GROUND TRUST
Donations eligible for Gift Aid.