EASTNOR Cricket Club have entered a new era with the construction of an impressive new pavilion.
With assistance from the England and Wales Cricket Trust and Sport England, as well as the Eastnor Castle Estate, the club are expecting the new facility to be completely operation by the start of the new season in April.
To accommodate the new structure, the previous building, which was opened in 1984, has been demolished.
The replacement now sits on the same site and extends down the boundary in the direction of Eastnor Castle.
"All the facilities will be to ECB specifications," said Eastnor treasurer Malcolm Hughes.
"As we are fortunate to have a pavilion in such a scenic location within the Eastnor Castle Estate, considerable care has been taken over the aesthetic appearance of the new pavilion and we are pleased with the design.
"The pavilion will have two large dressing rooms with integral toilets and showers, an enlarged social room and bar and kitchen."
The Eastnor Club have had to embark upon a huge fundraising campaign to generate their share of the costs.
But they have been boosted by generous assistance from outside.
"Eastnor Cricket Club was identified by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the Herefordshire Cricket Board as a club of strategic and developmental importance and because of the strength of their junior programme," said the ECB's Mike Turner.
"The club have been awarded a grant of £99,999 and a £42,000 interest free loan by the England and Wales Cricket Trust and a £50,000 grant by Sport England.
"The total project cost was approximately £240,000."
“We were delighted to receive the grants because we urgently needed to greatly improve our pavilion facilities,” said Hughes
“In recent years the club has made good progress and we have achieved ECB Clubmark and Focus Club status. We have four senior Saturday league teams, a senior friendly XI and the Under 17s play on Sundays and we have over 90 junior cricketers at the club.”
“We are pleased the ECB has recognised the work we do at junior level and in the general development of the game and we are extremely grateful for the generous financial support given by the England and Wales Cricket Trust.
"We're grateful, too, to Sport England for their grant from their Inspire Fund which is part of the Olympic Legacy programme for sport. We also very much appreciate the financial support and the help and advice given by the Eastnor Castle Estate.”
“The new pavilion will obviously help the development of cricket at Eastnor Cricket Club and the new facilities will be welcomed by all the players and visitors to the club," said Sport England's property director Charles Johnston.
"We are confident that by investing in high quality, sustainable facilities will help cricket to retain many new participants and create more opportunities to develop sporting talent and will also benefit the local community.”
While the building is now virtually complete, the fundraising, which has been going on for some time, will continue into the future.
"Over the past two years the club has raised more than £25,000 towards the project, the vast majority of which was achieved before the Sport England and ECB Grants were in place to ensure that the project would receive the green light," said Hughes.
"This was achieved through fund-raising over and above the significant schedule which we need to keep the club running, aided by a donation appeal that has to date raised £2,000.
"As a small club, our major gamble to invest almost £15,000 (although the Castle contributed a third of this figure) in producing a successful planning application before the grant applications were submitted, played a significant role in us reaching our current position, but not without a few anxious moments along the way.
“We would like to express our sincere thanks to all our members, sponsors, supporters and the Eastnor villagers for their terrific fundraising efforts to raise over £25,000 which enabled us to make the successful grant applications.
"Special thanks should be offered to the numerous people who made our fixture with Lashings last August into a major fund-raising success.
"There is no doubt that the success of the scheme is the result of real team effort. This season we will have a wonderful pavilion – but the fundraising will continue to pay off the loan.”