Members of Swindon Croquet Club wrapped up warmly and took their croquet lawn in early February, although there wasn’t a blade of grass to be seen.
However the excitement of securing £42,622 of Olympic legacy funding was too great not to celebrate.
The grant from Sport England’s Inspired Facilities Fund will provide a new club room to provide better facilities for members and the many community groups it supports at the Moredon Fields playing lawn.
The Inspired Facilities fund is part of the £135 million Places People Play legacy programme that is bringing the magic of a home Olympic and Paralympic Games into communities across the country. Every sports facility that receives funding will carry the London 2012 Inspire mark – celebrating the link to the Games.
Club chairman Arthur Ingersoll said: “We are delighted to have secured this investment as we are very proud of the contribution the club makes to the local community.”
Sport England’s chair, Richard Lewis, said: “This National Lottery investment will create a lasting sporting legacy for Swindon. The fund has really hit the mark with sports clubs in the South West. It shows we’re offering the legacy that people want for their local community. For hundreds of clubs and tens of thousands of people, 2012 will be the year their local sports facilities got better.”
North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson said: “This is fantastic news. The award of £42,622 from Sport England’s Inspired Facilities fund means Swindon Croquet Club can now build their much-needed new club room. They already do a lot of valuable work in the local community, and this new facility will help them to extend that even further.
“I’m a big believer in grass roots sport, and the Swindon Croquet Club is a shining example of what can be achieved, and how it can benefit the whole community. I very much look forward to the grand opening later this year, and wish the club many congratulations and continued success”.
As well as providing exercise for club members, many of whom are elderly, SCC entertains groups such as the Stroke Club and the Blind Club, and are actively involved with the Access Sports for disabled children, and the Healthy Lives groups for COPD sufferers. The secretary John Airey has developed a ‘flat iron’ type mallet for wheelchair users, and has also made coloured pucks which can be used indoors on shiny surfaces where balls do not roll.
The club averages just under 30 members each year but in 2011 gave 464 children and 439 adults 311 hours of voluntary coaching and support, and this is increasing year on year.
The club previously rented its lawns from Swindon Borough Council which also maintained them, but in order to help the council save money the club has volunteered to maintain the lawns themselves.
This has meant the purchase of suitable equipment, and to store this meant using the club’s existing meeting and storage room – an old container. A new club room was really a necessity. Fortunately one of the members, Neil Morrison, ran an architectural practice for many years before retirement so was able to provide plans for the new building. This will provide vastly better facilities which should mean the club can attract more members, entertain more groups and host corporate events.
To find out more about the club at www.swindoncroquetclub.org.uk or on Twitter or Facebook.
Swindon Croquet Club is one of hundreds of projects across England benefiting from lottery investment through the second round of the Inspired Facilities fund. Many more communities will also be able to benefit from the fund, with a further two rounds remaining.
Find out more at www.sportengland.org/inspiredfacilities. Bids will be accepted from 4 March 2013.
Photos: Richard Wintle www.calyxpix.com