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Hightown secure funding to construct new clubhouse

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Hightown members with Bill Esterson MP & Sefton Council representatives Hightown members with Bill Esterson MP & Sefton Council representatives

A £50,000 grant from Sport England, added to insurance payments and the Liverpool Competition club's own fundraising efforts, means that the process of tendering can begin almost immediately and it is hoped that the new pavilion will be completed by Spring 2013. Planning permission was granted in May.

For anyone who saw the gutted, charred remains of the club's old home after fire had devastated it over 18 months ago, the news that Hightown's plans have taken this major step forward will be welcome indeed. For the club's officials and players the receipt of the Sport England grant is a justification of the faith they kept, the spirit they showed and the work they did.

Along the way, Hightown's officials and players have drafted plans, held dinners, redrafted those plans, applied for money and been coached by Peter Moores at Old Trafford. There has been more paperwork than enough. Now the plans are going to take shape. No wonder they are happy, although not complacent.

"This is fantastic news for all our players and supporters, who have been incredibly patient during a difficult 18 months," said skipper Shaun Vosloo. "Despite everything, we have maintained a great team spirit and been able to operate pretty much as normal, which is some achievement when you consider we've had temporary changing rooms and no social facilities."

"We also owe the Lancashire Cricket Board an awful lot of gratitude for their help in steering us in the right direction," said Hightown's Nick Gordon. "In particular, we must praise the efforts of the LCB's Paul Bryson and Shaun Anders, whose ability to act quickly and put us in touch with the right people certainly aided the recovery process. 

"The LCB knew we were looking for temporary facilities and quickly put us in touch with Workington Cricket Club, whose pavilion had suffered severe damage during the 2010 floods.  We ended up purchasing three portakabins from them, funded by the ECB small grants scheme, which were a huge help in getting us back on our feet.

"Further meetings, supported by the ECB in the shape of Dan Musson, helped us to make contact with the right people at Sefton Council, which led to our Sport England funding.  I can't thank the LCB and ECB enough for their reassurance and guidance during a very difficult period for the club.

In the best sense Hightown has needed political support too, so it is little surprise that local MP Bill Esterson has joined the large group of people delighted at the club's success.

"This is great news for the Hightown Club," he said. "It has been through a lot, but hopefully this grant should see them benefit from brand new facilities so they can continue their long history within this community. I know only too well the important work the club does in Hightown and Sefton as a whole in getting people involved in sport. I congratulate every single one of them in securing this funding."

Many people who are not members of Hightown have also offered their support, not least Romida, who provided free cricket shirts when they heard of Hightown's plight. The biggest single difference, however, has been made by the Sport England grant.

"This National Lottery investment will create a lasting sporting legacy for Sefton," said Sport England’s chair, Richard Lewis. "The fund has really hit the mark with many sports clubs in the region. Sport England awarded the highest possible amount of £50,000 towards Hightown's project.  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."

The funding opportunity came via the Sport England 'Inspired Facilities' scheme, which 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."

Hightown president Chris Scrine responded: "Our very special club has probably been through more in the last 18 months than it had in its previous 103 year history.   This award is the culmination of many hours of hard work, particularly from our rebuild committee led by Alan Verinder and Roger Matthews, as well as the support from Simon Burnett, Tina Pillkington and Nicola Hedgecock at Sefton Council.

"Naturally we are all overjoyed with the decision.  We are all looking forward to our new facilities, which, we envisage, will help us to increase both our membership and wider sports participation in the area," he added.

Written by: Paul Edwards

 

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